Here are three questions.
The best sales managers should be able to answer each of these questions positively with the type of confidence it takes to close a deal...
- Do you know exactly who your sales reps are selling to?
- Do they truly know the potential lifetime value of each of the potential customers they’re talking to right now?
- And do they understand how to detect which leads look like your ideal customer (and which ones don’t)?
We’ve already dedicated an entire article to explaining why a stripped sales back process will reduce time wasted, prioritize workload, and allow your sales team to focus on the all-important task of selling.
But if you want to scale growth for your business, you need to do more than just focus your team on selling.
You need to find a repeatable process to help you focus on selling to the right prospects.
A key part of that process must be understanding how to find the cold leads in your pipeline and trade them for new hot leads.
You can’t afford for anyone in your business to waste time selling to the wrong people.
An efficient sales team focuses their energy on selling and concentrates on selling to the right clients.
A structured lead qualification process is what you need to make this happen, but before you can set up and implement this process, you need to know how to find your ideal customer.
How do You Find Your Ideal Customer?
The answer is simple:
You need to analyse your best customers and determine the similar characteristics that your sales team can look for in new prospects.
Your best customers drive the most recurring revenue for your business.
But there’s so much more value these customers can offer.
Apart from presenting an opportunity to upsell these customers, you can also gather priceless data that you can turn into actionable insights.
You need to analyze your best customers to work out how to find, nurture, convert and retain more of these ideal prospects.
Before you develop your lead qualification process, find answers to the following questions:
- How did you find your best customers?
- How did these customers find you?
- Why did they choose you?
- What are their specific pain points?
- Why are they still customers? What’s the main reason they stay?
These are the kinds of insights you have available to you right now.
You don’t need to spend thousands on costly market research or expensive consultants.
Just pick up the phone and ask your customers!
You might like to offer these customers a little incentive to help you out. Some company swag, a thoughtful freebie, a gift card or a one-time discount will do the trick.
Use these insights to reverse engineer the perfect lead qualification process for your ideal prospect.
This will help you find more of the right leads with regularity, rather than filling your pipeline and hoping for the best.
Marketing and Sales Must Develop a Lead Qualification Process
Once your team is equipped with the knowledge of who your ideal lead is, all that’s missing is a practical lead qualification process.
Now that you are armed with the info you need to find your best customers, you just need to turn your insights into something your salespeople can use to simplify their sales process.
A practical lead qualification process should help your sales and marketing teams understand:
- How to pinpoint the best leads in your pipeline
- How to find and purge cold leads from your pipeline
- When a marketing lead is qualified enough to send to the sales team
- Which activities need to be completed before a lead is moved to the next stage of your pipeline
- The average length of your sales cycle
- The average length of time your best leads take in each stage of the sales cycle
You can use this information to set up your sales pipeline and assign the key activities to each stage of your sales process.
You can measure performance based on:
- the number of activities completed at each stage of the pipeline
- the average duration a deal spends at each stage of the pipeline
- the percentage of leads that convert at each stage
- the percentage of leads that drop out of your pipeline at each stage
Suddenly, you’re building a scalable, repeatable sales process for your business.
Your marketing and sales teams know exactly what is required of them to drive success.
Each team member can focus on the activities they need to complete with faith in the knowledge they are doing the right things at the right time to maximize effectiveness.
Tracking and reporting will help you constantly refine and optimize your process.
A simplified, consistent process means you will feel more comfortable handing over control to your team, safe in the knowledge that everyone knows the right activities they need to complete at any given time.
Your team will be happier in their roles, with less stress, simple prioritization, one clear focus, and a better chance of consistently hitting their targets.
The long-term results are so worth it.
Higher recurring revenue, faster growth, and, just as importantly - higher team morale.
Analyze Past Performance to Constantly Improve Your Lead Qualification
The work doesn’t end after you seal that deal. It’s crucial that you and your team take the time to analyze the characteristics of the ideal customers you land in order to understand why they’re valuable, and exactly what makes them the right fit for your business.
That’s where sales reporting comes to the rescue, and doing it right can be summed up in an easy four-step process:
- Automate data collection
- Generate simple, actionable reports from the data
- Analyze the insights from these reports on a regular basis
- Use insights from the data to continually improve your sales process
A quality sales-specific CRM automates the majority of this process for you.
Data collection cannot be a manual task if you intend on scaling growth.
Pipedrive’s sales reporting dashboard automates this data collection, giving you real-time monitoring and tracking capabilities, and generating the simple, clear reports you need to make informed decisions about your performance. The dashboards are intuitive and visual - making your analytical task as simple as possible.
You can also customize these reports to focus on the unique metrics that matter for you and your business (you could track key aspects of your lead qualification process in your dashboards to help you make sure your team is focusing their time on the right leads).
Make Sure You Use Your Existing Data in the Right Way
Sales reports are a good means for reflecting on what’s happened, but can also give you great insights into your future results.
You can also use Pipedrive’s sales reporting tools for successful and reliable forecasting. Here’s a quick primer on what you can do:
For example, all your ongoing deals can be arranged by their likely close data based on the deals you’ve already closed - allowing for easy comparison.
Your team can use these forecasts to work on the deals most likely to close or find new deals to work on while ignoring those that are colder.
The next step is to dig deeper into the characteristics of your existing customers. Who did you close with – what is their role in the business?
How did they engage with your business before closing?
How many follow-ups and face-to-face meetings did it take to get the deal over the line?
All this information can be quickly accessed through Pipedrive’s visual sales admin report, allowing you to assess the leads you have in your pipeline with ease.
Use Automation to Instantly Qualify Leads
As soon as a prospect enters your pipeline, the lead qualification process must begin. But don’t rely on your team to manually qualify your leads at every stage of your sales process.
You need to gather as much information as possible without burdening your team with unnecessary admin.
So much background information on your leads can be gathered through Pipedrive’s Smart Contact Data feature to help you qualify leads as soon as they are entered into your CRM. This automatically retrieves web-data about your contacts including LinkedIn and Google+ at the click of a button. Everything will then be assembled neatly in your contact’s profile.
Straight away you can qualify a prospect using Smart Contact Data to identify any initial characteristics that a prospect may share with your ideal customer.
Advanced Lead Qualification: How to Perfect Your Sales Process and Focus on the Right Activities
How do you build an effective sales process and perfect your performance?
This requires more than one dedicated blog article.
Time to dive into the practical details.
We have four helpful guides designed to help businesses develop a structured lead qualification process and a scalable sales process. The guides go into great detail so you can work through setup and implementation as you go.
- The Fundamental Stages in Building a Sales Pipeline (This one will help you start from scratch)
- How to Use Your Sales Process as a Pipeline to Success (This one will help you refine and validate)
- How to Develop a Lead Qualification Machine (This one is for the more advanced managers with bigger teams)
- The Ultimate Guide to Activity-Based Selling: What, Why, and How (This one will help you assign the right activities to the right stages)
Select the guide that is right for you or read all four and make yourself into a real sales management expert!