How to Create Better Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)?

If you are looking to improve your Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) process, and also your lead nurturing process, you have come to the right place.

Fact: 97% of the leads from marketing are not useful to sales(1).

Marketing Qualified Leads

Most firms in B2B selling and B2B marketing are finding it more and more complex to set up a good process to qualify “leads” before spending valuable sales time on them.

The harsh reality is that marketing often qualifies a lead based on actions such as downloads, clicks, form submissions, and open rates. But these signals are not necessarily sufficient for sales. For example, there may be no budget, no urgency or a real need, the action could be purely for education etc. Over time the sales team comes to view these “MQLs” as less and less valuable. That’s a big problem.

How can marketing teams adopt a more robust lead nurturing and qualification process?

For marketers trying to put up good numbers on the dashboard, adopting  practices like we outline below may look bad in the short term because your MQL rate may drop a bit, but you’ll be basking in glory in the long run.

A Quick Review of the Challenge

Lead scoring and nurturing has widely been reduced to a mathematical problem.

  1. We assign points when certain things happen.
  2. Then when the score exceeds a threshold we want to pass the lead on to sales
  3. We check the various boxes on our monthly dashboards.

The trouble is that no one is genuinely happy with a cookie cutter process like this. All this looks great for a few months as the shiny new toys are implemented. But when folks start drilling down into the actual impact such as revenue or new deals, this process looks like we are going through the motions – we know it needs to be done, but are struggling to get to the real value.

Is downloading an eBook, submitting a form, or attending a webinar really an adequate way anymore to score leads and pass them to sales? If the concept of “showrooming” from retail sales is familiar to you, you’ll agree that many of those “leads” are not looking to buy but have many other reasons to browse your material. Such leads should no longer become marketing qualified leads, and should not be passed to sales unless a higher level commitment happens. But how do you then progress such a lead? (we’ll address this below)

It’s even more complicated when your sales team rejects a lead. What happens then? How do you nurture them back “knowing what you know now”?

Finally, you have most likely been saddled by a marketing automation system AND a separate CRM system. Regardless of what anyone says, we guarantee that the integration is finicky or pretty dismal at best. Everyone is happy in isolation with their kingdoms, unless you look at the end to end process of how you qualify and nurture leads.

The Solution to a Good Marketing Qualified Lead

We think the biggest problem underlying all of this that we are failing to give an opportunity to our marketing team to actually qualify a lead properly to the Marketing Qualified Lead status before handing over to sales. This implies that the marketing team (or the SDR / inside sales team) must be able to interact with the prospect with something more than just emails.

Here is how you would empower both your marketing and sales teams with Evalinator:

  1. Create interactive content – this is basically an assessment aligned with your sales offers. For example a marketing agency might have something like, “Is your SEO cutting it for you?”. A technology services company might create “Are you maximizing the time of your data scientists?” or “Is your data strategy up to the mark?”. A product development firm might create “Is your product development cycle geared for success?”.
  2. Market your assessment – Use this instead of generic material in all the usual places, and give users incentives to take it. e.g. get this infographic free after you take this assessment, etc.
  3. As respondents take the assessment, the marketing team can now follow up with a set of predefined or practiced interactions. Evalinator allows this through a variety of bench-marking and goal setting tools.
  4. Sales uses the same assessment to interact with the prospect with full context. And it becomes a great sales pursuit tool as well.
Follow Up & Lead Nurturing

Those who respond to your assessment can be considered more promising and conversations with SDRs or the marketing team can follow a semi-automated cycle like this:

  • Follow up 1:  “70% of respondents actually scored higher on this category. Do you want more information?. Do X or Y”.
  • Follow up 2: Let’s set up a short term goal to do Z?

As is evident, X, Y, and Z are options that indicate a higher level commitment. For example, provide more information on budget and project need, ask other members of their team to take the assessment, agree to a short term goal to do something, etc.

All of this can still happen through your marketing automation system complimented by a manual touch for more promising leads. Three things can happen:

  1. The lead is going to push for a sales meeting – the best case.
  2. You will build up valuable context about the lead (important goals, budget, schedule etc.). Such lead work out much better when sales gets them.
  3. The lead will not respond in the right way to any higher level commitment. In which case, it was never a good lead to pass to sales to begin with.

The process of flagging a lead as a Marketing Qualified Lead needs to become more sophisticated. 97% of such leads are not useful to sales or are ignored.

In the long run, this is bad for the marking team’s morale, and also affects the productivity of the entire sales and marketing engine.

Try Evalinator and see if it is right for your situation. You don’t need to pay anything until the free trial ends.

  1. Marketing Qualified Leads statistics
Next steps

If this approach sounds reasonable to you, then there is nothing better than testing it out! Get started for free and craft your first assessment. We are here to help you be successful.

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