Marketing Redefined: Leads
Starting this week, we’re introducing a new Definitions series, explaining more in-depth certain aspects of marketing. We know that business growth depends on some form of marketing, yet not all business owners ever stop to get educated about what goes into that. We hope this review of the fundamentals will help you develop a marketing strategy that works.
It all starts with Leads.
Most people define a lead as a “potential client or organization that has an interest in what you are offering.” Whether they encountered you through a Google ad, a mailer, a cold call or just through word of mouth, these possible customers have somehow reached out or responded back to you.
Once that contact has been made via call, email, DM, or letter, it’s now up to you to follow up on that “lead” and turn it into a sale. So, what’s the issue?
Well, a lead is not always a lead. I like to compare the entire sales process to the phases leading up to marriage. Basically, you don’t walk up to the person of your dreams that you just met for the very first time and ask for his/her hand in marriage. Why? Because it’s weird, and most likely, whether it’s business or personal, you’re going to get rejected.
Here’s how we clearly define each stage in the process with a lead to help you more effectively prepare for that wedding:
- The Subscriber Stage: This is the very beginning of the lead stage. This is when you get introduced through different channels (social media, ads) and you actually exchange contact information. Congratulations, but don’t jump to any conclusions yet.
- The Nurturing Stage: Let’s get real, once the contact information has been exchanged and the communication starts, it’s pretty common that they will ignore whatever you send, mostly because they don’t really know you. Eventually, you want to improve the interaction. How? Continue to offer valuable content, pursuing their interests and giving them more opportunities to visit your website, download resources, listen to your podcasts, register for a webinar, etc. You are nurturing your relationship during this important stage.
- The Marketing Qualified Lead Stage (MQL): As you continue to nurture, eventually they will show a genuine interest. Here’s where they finally say yes to your offers or even reach out to you for a meeting or a call. If they meet the criteria of your target market, this has now become a qualified lead.
- The Sales Qualified Lead Stage (SQL): They are now qualified and ready to buy. For most companies, this is where the hand-off happens. Marketing has generated a qualified lead; now it gets handed off to the sales department for the closure. In the dating metaphor, this is when you go ring shopping – it’s almost time to pop the question.
- The Opportunity Stage: You’ve worked hard to get here and to earn trust. Now it’s time to let them know that you are the right fit for them, where effort turns into opportunity. An opportunity to journey together for as long as you both shall live…and guess what? It sounds like this could be the happily ever after.
I hope breaking down the stages of leads helps you strategize a long-term master plan for your company, and allows even more growth to be generated as each stage is defined and nurtured.
Here’s to you and your business finding true love!