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5 min read

Inbound lead qualification

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Isn't it frustrating when you spend all that time and energy generating leads, only to find out that most of them aren't even qualified? It's a waste of your time and it can be demoralizing. But don't worry, there are ways to avoid this. Qualifying inbound leads is one of the keys to success and should form part of your inbound marketing. In this blog post, we'll explore different types of leads and where in the buying stage they are. We'll also discuss qualifying, nurturing and converting. So stay tuned to learn more!

Inbound vs outbound leads

To understand inbound leads, let's compare it to outbound leads. There are many factors that go into inbound lead qualification, but the most important criteria are:

  • Are they currently in the market for your product or service?
  • Do they have a budget allocated for your product or service?
  • Do they have the authority to make decisions within their organization?
  • Do they have a need for your product or service?
  • Are they a good fit for your target customer profile?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then you have a qualified inbound lead.

Outbound leads are a little different. With outbound lead generation, you are proactively reaching out to potential customers who may or may not be actively looking for your product or service. An outbound lead is a potential customer who has been contacted by a company or sales representative who initiates the contact, rather than the customer. Outbound lead generation is the process of identifying and contacting potential customers who may be interested in your product or service.

There are several methods of outbound lead generation, including cold calling, email marketing, direct mail, and online advertising. Outbound lead generation can be a way to reach potential customers. However, it's important to qualify your leads before attempting to sell them anything.

Qualifying inbound and outbound leads is critical to the success of any business. By taking the time to understand the different types of leads and what goes into qualifying them, you can ensure that you are focusing your efforts on the right leads, which will result in more sales and a higher return on investment.

Understanding the different types of leads

There are seven different types of leads:

  1. Cold Leads
  2. Warm Leads
  3. Hot Leads
  4. Information Qualified Leads (IQL)
  5. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
  6. Sales Ready/Accepted Leads (SRL)
  7. Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)

Here is a short explanation of each:

  1. A cold lead is a lead that has had no contact with your company. They may have seen an ad or heard about you from a friend, but they don’t know anything about your company or product.
  2. A warm lead is a lead that has had some contact with your company. They may have visited your website or seen an ad, but they haven’t requested more information or spoken to anyone from your company.
  3. A hot lead is a lead that is ready to buy. They have requested more information or spoken to someone from your company and they are interested in purchasing your product or service.
  4. An Information Qualified Lead (IQL) is a lead that has been contacted and has expressed interest in your product or service, but needs more information before they are ready to buy.
  5. A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a lead that has been contacted and has expressed interest in your product or service, but is not yet ready to buy.
  6. A Sales Ready/Accepted Lead (SRL) is a lead that is ready to be passed off to sales. They have expressed interest in your product or service and are ready to speak to a salesperson.
  7. A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a lead that has been contacted by sales and has expressed interest in your product or service. They are ready to purchase your product or service.

Identifying the buying stage of each lead

The next step in lead qualification is to identify the buying stage of each lead. There are four main stages of the buying cycle: awareness, consideration, decision, and action.

Awareness: In the awareness stage, the customer is just becoming aware that they have a need or problem. They are starting to do research on potential solutions and are beginning to educate themselves on the options available.

Consideration: In the consideration stage, the customer has identified their need or problem and is now considering their options. They are comparing different solutions and looking at features and benefits to see what is the best fit for their needs.

Decision: In the decision stage, the customer has decided on a solution and is now ready to make a purchase. They are evaluating different vendors and comparing prices to find the best deal.

Action: In the action stage, the customer has made their purchase and is now using the product or service. They may also be considering other products or services to supplement their original purchase.

By understanding which stage of the buying cycle each lead is in, you can tailor your sales pitch and marketing messages to meet their needs. This will result in more qualified leads and higher conversion rates.

Qualifying leads using a lead scoring system

Once you have identified the different types of leads and what goes into qualifying them, you can start to develop a lead scoring system. A lead score is a numeric representation of the lead’s overall potential. It is used to prioritize and rank leads so that sales and marketing can focus their efforts on the most qualified leads. There are many factors that go into lead scoring, but some of the most important criteria are:

  • The buying stage of the lead
  • The level of interest shown by the lead
  • The budget of the lead
  • The authority of the lead
  • The need for your product or service
  • The fit for your target customer profile

Lead scores help you to identify which leads are ready to be contacted by sales and which ones need more nurturing. By qualifying your leads using a lead scoring system, you can ensure that you are focusing your efforts on the most promising leads.

Nurture qualified leads until they're ready to buy

Nurturing your qualified leads is important to keep them engaged with your product or service. There are a number of ways to nurture your leads, but some of the most effective methods are:

  • Sending educational emails
  • Offering free trials
  • Providing exclusive content
  • Hosting webinars

By nurturing your qualified leads, you can keep your brand on their radar and build trust. This will result in more sales and a higher return on investment.

Converting leads into customers

The best way to convert leads into customers is by accelerating them through your sales funnel. Lead acceleration allows your revenue teams to capture, qualify, and engage with more website leads more quickly. Lead acceleration eliminates the delay between a visitor arriving on your website and being able to engage with your team. It increases the quality of website leads by qualifying them with smart questions to discover if they’re a good fit for your business. And thirdly, it increases the quantity of website leads by capturing their information 24/7 with conversational chatbots and forms.

By automating your lead capture, qualification, and assignment processes and instantly engaging with leads and engaging with the right ones at the right time, you'll easily convert your leads into paying customers.

Conclusion

Inbound lead qualification is a critical step in the sales process. By taking the time to understand the different types of leads and what goes into qualifying them, you can ensure that you are focusing your nurturing efforts on the right leads, which will result in more sales and a higher return on investment.

Learn more about what we do at OnceHub here.