Sunday, April 27, 2014

Top 10 Ways to Spot a Good Sales Lead

Today, sales and marketing teams need every advantage they can get to keep ahead of their competition. At Infer, we’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of companies on developing their lead scoring. While every business is a little bit different, in general they’re all aiming to figure out how to determine when they’ve got a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) to send to their inside sales team. By honing the lead qualification process, salespeople can focus all their energy on prospects who are a good fit for their product.
 Here are the top 10 signals that we’ve found tend to spot the best sales leads:

1. Is the prospect’s company massive or tiny?

If a company is too small, or too large, you can often rule them out as a potential customer right away. Whether it’s Hoovers, D&B, or LinkedIn, there are lots of places you can go to get a sense for revenue and employee count.  Interestingly, we often find it’s possible to really hone in on a few specific ranges, which can help you pinpoint your sweet spot when it comes to these metrics. For example, one of our customers gets the most winners with leads whose company size are between $10-25 million in revenue, does okay with leads in the $5-10 and $25-50 million ranges, but starts to see a negative correlation to conversion once a prospect reaches the $500 million + mark.

2. What can you learn from a lead's web site clues? 

You can find out a lot about your leads just by checking the overall size of their web site, and whether it features shopping carts, “contact me” buttons, or customer support portals. For example, if you’re selling advertising, then it’s very useful to know how a prospect generates awareness and converts site visitors into customers.

3. Are they based in Tokyo or somewhere in the Midwestern U.S.?

Chances are there are certain geographies where you’re more successful than in others. Many web-to-lead forms will capture city and state, but even if you don’t have that data at your fingertips, you can visit the contact us page on their corporate website to look this up.

4. Are they growing like a rocketship or stagnating?

An expanding company often has more resources to take on new initiatives. Job postings, new offices, or financing news are all leading indicators for growth. Other good signals to look at are its web site traffic and its social networking presence in places like Twitter, Facebook, pinterest, Instagram, etc. Tools like Alexa and Google Trends give you quick insight into how rapidly a company’s online presence is growing.

5. Is their company in its infancy or middle-aged?

Do you sell into emerging or established companies? Many companies can target their customers based on company age, and looking at when they filed their incorporation document is one way to tell which stage of company life they fall into.

6. Who are their best leads? 

Is there a particular industry or business model you’ve had success selling into? By pulling up a prospect’s web site and digging into their product, customer or partner pages, for example, you can usually tell if they’re going to be a fit for your product.

7. What’s in their technology stack? 

It takes some digging, but you can often find out select products a company is leveraging. This tells you a lot about their level of sophistication and, in some cases, the environment for your product.

8. Where’s their box on the org chart? 

If the company is a fit for your product, it warrants looking at the individual’s job title. Do they have pull within the organization? Are they your target buyer? LinkedIn and Twitter are two great resources to understand their motivation.

9. Are they just spamming you or is there proof of life?

If the lead’s email address is, they may not be a real person. This type of information is negatively correlated to conversion, but it’s actually a highly valuable signal for weeding out spammy leads. For example, plenty of people might just want your free trial, so they type in fake contact information to get through your web form. On the flip side, if they take the time to fill out the form with complete, accurate data, it may indicate that they’re serious about purchasing your product.

10. Did they stick their business card in your drawing fishbowl at a trade show, or read a 10-page white paper on your website? 

There is often tribal wisdom within an organization around which lead sources are better than others. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With marketing automation platforms you can track how prospects are engaging with your content on your website, through email marketing, and social channels. These behavioral breadcrumbs can give you key insight into your leads’ interest areas, so you can target your messaging appropriately.
 While most of what you need to qualify a hot lead is actually out there in the public domain, the tricky part is stitching all those data sources together, and figuring out the right weighting for each attribute.