By Scott Levine, VP, Strategy— Originally published on April 25, 2011

If the three most important words in real estate are location, location, and location, then the three most important words in Lead Generation are quality, quality, and quality. When it comes to generating leads, think of quality as the “X” factor.The other critical factor in lead generation is timing. Sales needs a steady supply of high-quality leads in order to meet their sales goals. But what are the necessary ingredients you need to turn this sales-and-marketing dream into a workable reality? In the 1970s, Paul Masson ran a very successful advertising campaign with Orson Welles as their spokesman. Their tag line, “We will sell no wine before its time,” can be applied to marketers who don’t want to turn their leads over to sales too early. Not wanting to waste sales’ time is a worthy goal. However, when sales is clamoring for more leads, so they can make their quota, marketing will likely give in and pass on leads prematurely. How then can smart marketers make that sure their leads are mature enough to be given to sales? Is there a system that can be put in place that can determine when leads are ready to buy? The old theory that leads should be pushed through a pipeline won’t work in today’s sophisticated and complicated markets. The strategic marketing process has changed dramatically from just a few years ago when the sales rep was seen as an adviser who guided the prospect through the decision-making process. Today’s prospect has a wealth of information at his fingertips, and it’s easy to do research, access reviews from peers, and make an informed decision without ever talking to a salesperson.

Today, buyers don’t want to talk to sales reps until they’re ready to buy. In fact, a recent Forrester Research report stated “Mature lead management processes pay off in better sales follow-up rates and higher close-rate percentages for marketing-generated leads.” But how do you know when your leads are mature? What’s the best metric to use? The answer is that leads need to go through a thorough process that’s been developed by bringing together the entire sales-and-marketing organization. Definitions of lead quality must be established and agreed upon by all constituents. And protocols for lead scoring, classification, routing, and nurturing all must be established. Each of these components will have thresholds and parameters that streamline, automate, maximize, and optimize the lead process. Once it’s honed to perfection, the result is quality leads, better-quality leads, and top-quality leads. Companies who partner with a direct marketing agency to create, automate, manage, and facilitate their entire lead generation process will end up far ahead of their competitors. Watch for Part 2 of this article: “8-Step Lead Nurturing Explained in Detail.”


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