11 Expert Tips for Driving More Sales Qualified Leads

Sales Nov 23, 2020 15 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    Imagine this situation, hundreds of leads are pouring into your marketing funnel every day, but the ones that actually make it to your sales teams are none.

    That’s really bad for your business and definitely needs retrospection — because spending time and resources on buggy leads that don’t convert as customers is harmful. 

    Generating leads is no doubt an important goal for any business.

    But, going a step ahead to focus on the sales qualified leads (the ones that make sense to your sales team and ultimately become your customers), will make an impact on your revenue, and at the same time help sales teams to hit their numbers.

    So, how can you do exactly that?

    In this blog, we’ll talk about MQLs, SQLs and some of the proven tips and tricks for generating more sales qualified leads. Read on to find out how our community of experts identifies, segregates, and generates SQLs.

    Let’s jump in.

    1. What are SQLs and How are They Different from MQLs?
    2. How to Identify an SQL?
    3. 11 Effective Tips for Generating More Sales Qualified Leads
    HubSpot CRM – Sales Analytics Overview Template

    What are SQLs and How are They Different from MQLs?

    As the name itself suggests, a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a prospective customer who has been qualified and ready to be contacted by the sales team to answer specific questions and potentially close a sale.

    Generally speaking, a customer’s journey of a business starts from once they are acquired as a lead. This occurs when prospective customers are exploring a solution for their pain points.

    Next, the marketing team digs into the details based on how the lead interacted with your business (either website or ads), carefully analyze it, and determine whether that lead qualifies to be passed on to the sales team. 

    The leads that pass from the marketing team are known as marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and once they reach the sales team’s funnel, and go through further analysis, they become sales qualified leads (SQL).

    So, to put it in simpler words, SQLs are those leads that are ready to be pitched or hot leads that have high chances of converting to customers.

    Use this sales leads dashboard to gain a high-level overview of all the sales qualified leads in your funnel.

    How to Identify SQL?

    The process of identifying and moving leads from MQL to SQL stage is known as lead scoring. It’s an effective way to identify potential customers based on multiple attributes that make sense to your business. 

    Once you start assigning scores to your leads based on their interaction with your business, professional background, and organization level details, you can prioritize your work. The sales teams would then know which lead to focus more on and hit their sales targets. 

    The metrics that make a lead pass the marketing and sales stage can vary from business to business. Let’s illustrate this with an example.

    If your software is a data reporting platform, and a lead has signed up with a business account and previously downloaded a case study on your website, it can be called an MQL. Why? Because there’s a clear intent of an organization looking to know more about your offerings.

    And further, if this lead creates at least one report in their account using some data sources, the sales team can consider it to be an SQL and reach out to deliver the sales pitch. Because here, there is an intent of using your product and the lead being in the consideration stage. Such SQLs are marked based on their app activity and accordingly, the sales pitch changes. 

    This way, sales teams know exactly which lead is likely to convert to a customer, what pitch would work, and furthermore, project the sales numbers for that month. 

    Next, let’s learn more about tips to generate such sales qualified leads.

    11 Effective and Easy Tips to Generate More Sales Qualified Leads

    1. Implement the lead scoring technique
    2. Use a marketing automation tool to setup lead scoring
    3. Integrate marketing platform with CRM and understand your SQL end-end
    4. Dig into data to understand the SQL’s pattern
    5. Align your sales and marketing to establish buyer personas
    6. Create contextual and empathetic content
    7. Create content with purchase intent and product’s pain points
    8. Bet on long-tail niche related keywords
    9. Tap on your leads’ social media account
    10. Account-based marketing and sales program
    11. Run Google Ads

    1. Implement the Lead Scoring technique

    Lead Scoring is a method to score leads based on attributes that make sense to a particular business that can help sales teams identify which leads to pitch first. 

    So, the most important and first tip to generate more SQLs is to keep a clear lead scoring technique in place. Plus, doing it the right away and optimizing the process, as you understand your SQLs better going further, so you don’t miss out on potential customers.

    Start with understanding your ideal customer. David Haar says, “You are a good fit for ABC… You may not be a good fit for XYZ… Putting that on the radar of your MQLs can help them to think whether or not they are a good fit.”

    Dennis Bell of Byblos Coffee adds tips about carrying out the lead scoring. 

    “Gather as much information as you can about your lead. Explicit data like job title, company size, industry type, and geographic location helps in organizing a prospect’s readiness to purchase from you.

    It helps you generate more qualified leads by ranking them. Our team has criteria for SQLs. It enables us to evaluate the lead’s potential. The interest of a buyer is an important criterion to consider. It determines the purchasing potential of a lead. Having an interest is a great reason to buy.”

    How do you get started with lead scoring?

    Margo Ovsiienko of Margo Leads details the process of setting up a good lead scoring method: 

    • “Define the criteria for lead scoring which reflects the specifics of your industry or, in particular, your company. Here are just some criteria to consider: role in the organization (decision-making status), organization size, industry, and engagement metrics such as specific pages which your target audience views or number of pages viewed. 
    • Start with thinking about what criteria are important for you, in particular, which criteria would make a perfect sales lead. 
    • Then continue with assigning a number of points that would cumulate. Design a system and get down to testing to check out how it works in practice, then iterate.”

    The below image depicts that more than 60% of teams set clear criteria for assigning their SQLs. And that criteria helps in implementing strategies that drive more SQLs.

    does you team have clearly defined criteria for SQLs?

    2. Use a marketing automation tool to setup lead scoring

    A marketing automation tool can help you move the lead stages automatically without human intervention. And that’s the type of setup that’ll help your business reduce manual and sloppy work. All you have to do is set up a customized lead scoring process along with lead nurturing sequences, and the rest is done by the automation tool. 

    Ovsiienko further explains, “To build a good process of nurturing MQLs leads into SQLs, you can consider implementing some scoring criteria in your marketing automation tool to help score leads automatically and send notifications to a sales department once a lead status has changed.”

    Andre Oentoro of Milkwhale adds, “Marketing automation helps your team heaps and makes the job of reaching out to potential customers way easier. Once you have used marketing automation, you can focus on nurturing those leads.”

    3. Integrate marketing platform with CRM and understand your SQLs end-end

    Well, these days most businesses use software that has marketing automation and CRM under one platform. But if your business is having a varied set of tools for marketing automation and CRM, you might want to consider keeping them in sync.

    Why? You would always want your contacts’ details in sync across your system, so whenever sales teams pitch to an SQL, they have all the marketing data handy. 

    Further, this helps in understanding the marketing campaigns behind these SQLs, which you can double down to generate more such SQLs.

    Robert Applebaum of Applebaum Beverly Hills says, “It all comes down to the marketing strategies you use to bring people into your website to boost the quality of traffic to your website. That means, from content marketing to email marketing to SEO, you need insight into the quality of leads and traffic from each of your marketing campaigns in order to increase traffic and improve SQLs.”

    Jasmine Hippe of Augurian explains, “Integrating your marketing platforms with your CRM allows you to track the exact campaigns that are driving SQLs so that you can invest more in the tactics that are filling your funnel.”

    Hippie adds an example, “HubSpot events integration in Google Ads allows advertisers to import events like lead stages into Google Ads to see which campaigns, ads, and keywords are driving the highest volume of qualified leads.” See also these free CRM dashboards.

    4. Dig into data to understand the SQL’s pattern

    “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve”, says Sasha Matviienko of growth360.

    “To drive higher quality leads, SQLs vs MQLs, you need to be able to identify which of the past Leads converted into SQLs.”

    And how do you do that? Matviienko adds, “One of the favorite methods that we use is Data Import for Google Analytics. It allows us to extend what we already know about Leads in Google Analytics with valuable data from CRM and Sales teams. This gives us an unparalleled insight about which of the Leads converted into SQLs. Later on, we refine our targeting and create new audiences based on past converters that turned into SQLs.”

    Borja Prieto of FROGED emphasizes optimizing the entire journey from Lead > MQL > SQL.

    “Find out opportunities to improve conversion rates for each of these lifecycle stages. And then, document the entire process in a playbook.” 

    And this is a part of how Blueleadz increased sales qualified leads by using Databox to understand their client’s data and optimize their strategy. Databox has made it easy for Blueleadz to report on their client’s ad-hoc metrics and sales reporting requirements.

    5. Align your sales and marketing to establish buyer personas

    “Get sales and marketing alignment upfront and establish specific buyer personas then define what constitutes a sales-ready lead”, says Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls.

    Most of the companies have their marketing and sales teams aligned decent enough to drive more SQLs.

    How well do marketing and sales collaborate within your company to help drive more SQLs?

    Knowing who your ideal buyer makes it easy to target and sell to the right audience. And this is not a one time job. Businesses map out a hypothesis and establish a buyer persona based on the pain points their services are solving.

    And as the customers provide more data and feedback, revisiting and aligning your buyer persona is important. This way, you can generate more sales qualified leads.

    Mariya Finkelshteyn of Orchid Agency explains, “Marketing typically focuses on establishing a clear Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), messaging, positioning and create integrated campaigns which result in leads for the sales team. If those leads are within ICP and have engaged in marketing activity then the sales team can qualify those leads to SQLs. The tight integration between marketing and sales can significantly accelerate SQLs, drive higher volumes, and larger average deal sizes for the organization.”

    6. Create contextual and empathetic content 

    The type of content your audience reads has an impact on their buying pattern. Be it emails, landing pages, case studies, or blogs.

    Be more mindful of what content you create to attract the right audience and help them go down the funnel with appropriate content for each stage.

    Wes Burger of CloudTask says, “Use different pieces of content that nurture leads, and which are targeted to that person depending on the stage of the buyer’s journey the person is at. 

    Marketing automation tools are great for this – as they can track the journey and send out emails or notifications at the right time.”

    7. Create content with purchase intent and product’s pain points

    Creating exhaustive content for the top of the funnel might attract a huge number of leads. But you’ll miss out on pushing them down the funnel or attracting direct SQLs if you don’t create a purchase intent type of content. For example – ebooks on your offerings, pain points, and case studies to back up with data.

    “To drive more SQLs, it’s important to create content with purchase intent. If you produce broad content, visitors consuming your content won’t be qualified or won’t be into the consideration phase.

    Create and distribute content with purchase intent and you will see that you will get less cold leads and more qualified and targeted hot leads”, says Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Marketing.

    Matteo Duo helps with the type of content that you can create. 

    “Create content that explains and shows how your product helps your prospect address their pain points. This type of content can come in any format: as a blog post, as a video tutorial, as a live demo webinar. This content, usually referred to as BOFU content, will drive less traffic (as it almost has little to non-existent search traffic) but it’ll bring in prospects that are keen to learn more about your product.”

    8. Bet on long-tail niche related keywords

    This tip is similar to creating content with high purchase intent. Typically, purchase intent content comes with keywords that are usually either less searched or are long-tail ones.

    But yet, they’re important keywords to your business niche.

    Peter Thaleikis of RankLetter explains, “Long-tail keywords are usually indicating a specific need or issue – someone is searching for a particular solution. A focus on these queries allows you to connect early on and provide value. Google Search Console or a suitable tool can provide you the needed information. 

    Best part? “Usually, long-tail keywords are also less competitive allowing you to find more SQLs.”

    9. Tap on your leads’ social media accounts

    Social media tells a lot about your audience’s interests that can be used in your messaging to make it hyper-personalized. So when you start to reach out, you’d have some data points ready to add to your cold pitch. 

    Catriona Jasica of Top Vouchers Code adds this tip.

    “To generate more sales qualified leads our favorite tip would be to first examine the lead’s social media channels, see what they truly like and dislike, vet them thoroughly and after you are done with that simply create a deal or a package that would be enticing for them, and start cold emailing or calling. In most cases, the sales will be almost immediately but some require an in-depth briefing but nonetheless, these methods will always bring the best ROI.”

    10. Account-based marketing and sales program

    When you know what your SQL pattern and how a typical SQL looks like to your business, targeting similar accounts by cold outreach helps. 

    “Execute an account-based marketing & sales program. Both teams align on a list of target accounts (based on the Ideal Customer Profile ICP) every quarter, then tightly orchestrate the execution: running targeted ads and offering personalized digital experience (marketing) while simultaneously prospecting and multi-threading those accounts thoroughly (sales)”, says Trinity Nguyen of UserGems. Track the number of sales your ads generate for your business using this sales dashboard software.

    11. Run Google Ads

    Google ads when implemented with a cost-effective bidding strategy, can prove to be a cost-effective way of generating leads. And if you’re looking to generate new leads from a hyper-targetted audience, Google Ads can be a good start.

    Jasz Joseph of SyncShow adds, “Google Ads are one of the best tactics for driving SQLs. When people have a sales-ready need, the first place they often go is Google. If your ad is there and stands out, SQLs will come in.” This is as simple as — when the iron is hot, it’s easy to mend. Use this lead generation dashboard to monitor the number of leads that come from Google Ads.

    HubSpot CRM – Sales Analytics Overview Template

    Wrap Up

    Those were the most basic and important tips to implement in your current marketing and sales processes to generate more sales qualified leads from existing leads and newer ones. If you’re just starting out, get started with the lead scoring and marketing automation implementation. And make sure to focus on the content you create under each marketing campaign. 

    Above all, keep the tip “dig into data provided by your sales dashboard to understand SQLs” always handy. Because, the more you dig into the existing data, the more insights you get into the type of SQLs you’re generating and get ideas to generate more such SQLs.  And if you’re looking to make your data reporting and analytics easy, a platform like Databox can help you just get that. 

    Article by
    Archita Sharma

    Archita helps B2B SaaS businesses with marketing (with a focus on content). She is happiest while helping founders unleash the power of content marketing and telling stories about her weekend artistic cafe visits!

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