The Difference Between Qualified Leads

As a sales professional, the origin of a lead is important to know, especially when establishing expectation for a lead. Lead generation is not a cookie-cutter process and because of this, all leads are not equal. Understanding the difference between qualified leads helps to properly layout your sales strategy for each individual opportunity as you advance it through the sales process.

lead_generation-300x200

The Origin of Leads

First, let’s look at common ways leads come to life:

  1. Referral/word-of-mouth
  2. Online research (i.e.: website, SEO, PPC)
  3. Social media
  4. Self-generated (i.e.: cold calling, telemarketing, email or mail campaigns)

Commonly, sales people will look at each of these avenues of lead generation as equal, or very similar. Therefore, a sales person will subconsciously assign the same level of expectation and approach to all leads, no matter its origin.  With this mindset, some leads will fall short of expectation, no matter how good they are. Additionally, leads run the risk of dying if opportunities are not properly planned and nurtured.

The Difference Between Qualified Leads

How are leads different?  In the broadest perspective, there are two forms of lead generation:

  1. Buyer-generated: Created by the potential buyer, reaching out in an effort to find a solution
  2. Seller-generated: Created by the seller, reaching out to identify potential buyers

Buyer-Generated Leads

Selling opportunities created by the buyer are usually the most qualified and advance through the sales cycle faster than seller-generated leads. This can be attributed to the fact that the buyer has a need and is looking for a solution; the need is creating enough pain that the buyer starts actively looking for a company who can solve the problem.  Not much legwork, such as cold calling and other telemarketing efforts, is required of the sales person up to this point.  From a typical sales person’s expectation, these are the best kind of leads to receive.

However, downsides exist. Commonly, there are not enough buyer-generated leads to satisfy sales quotas and sales people have little control on generating a volume of them (referral or word-of-mouth). Also, they can become expensive to produce (online and social media advertising).  Ultimately, in most business-to-business situations, there are not enough of these leads to fully distribute to and satisfy a whole sales team – certainly not enough to achieve overall company sales success.

Seller-Generated Leads

Selling opportunities created through seller-generation usually occur when a sales person initiates activity that stimulates conversation (i.e.: cold calling, telemarketing, email or mail campaigns) with a prospective company. Conversation usually starts with probing-type questions.  If you are lucky and the timing is right, good questions become the start of a new lead opportunity. In this situation, similarly to buyer-generated leads, your Q&A session will coincide with an existing pain the prospect might be dealing with; however, this is the exception, not the rule.

Read more about how to write a telemarketing script.

More frequently, you will stimulate a level of interest. But, timing is dependent upon many less controllable factors such as being inside an existing agreement term, the need for the prospect to research new solutions, or the prospect having to decide if making a change to your solution is worth the effort.

The Journey

It is important to recognize the point in a prospect’s journey where you, as the seller, get involved. With seller-generated leads, the journey begins when the prospect expresses a level of pain associated with their current solution.  With buyer-generated leads, the journey is well underway by the time the sales person gets involved.  Understanding your point of entry will help guide you into setting proper time lines, expectations, and upcoming sales strategy.

A seller-generated lead can feel colder early on because the buyer is at an earlier stage in the journey; however, when properly nurtured, the selling opportunity becomes more valuable.  During this development, you start building a relationship with the prospect, which ultimately becomes an advantage for you.  Frequently, seller-generated leads have fewer competitors involved.

In Summary

Expressing a level of pain by the prospect and the action you take to resolve this pain can take time and sales skill to advance.  Because of this, it is important to apply a fair expectation on each, as the value of each opportunity is different and the amount of time and work involved with each opportunity varies.  The close rate of buyer-generated leads is higher than seller-generated leads; however, there is a finite number of buyer-generated leads available and that number is not enough to satisfy company sales goals in most business-to-business environments.  This is the point where it becomes important to realize the value of seller-generated lead generation.  In most organizations, sales professionals should also maintain an adequate number of these leads inside the sales funnel.

In almost any instance, a proper balance of buyer-generated and seller-generated leads are required for a company to be successful and exceed sales goals. With both types of leads inside the sales funnel, always remember the difference between qualified leads.

For more information on this topic, please contact Mike Dunlap at miked@dunlapmarketing.com.

 

Summer 2016 Internship Program

Business guy

This summer, Dunlap Marketing hosted three college interns. They worked on selected, entry-level projects and did exceptionally well. When asked to describe her experience with the internship, Meredith, University of Texas, said, “It has been great – I’ve had the chance to see a side of business and marketing that usually goes on behind the scenes. I’ve gained so much knowledge from it!” Lydia, University of Texas, agreed and added, “I learned how to deliver a message in an effective and understandable way during a phone conversation. Over time, I became very comfortable and really enjoyed getting prospects to cooperate. I had a great time at Dunlap Marketing and really enjoyed all of the people here.”

The interns worked a fulltime schedule and even put in their fair share of overtime. “This job has taught me patience and tactful persistence,” said Grace, Texas A&M University. “It can be tiring trying to get to the decision maker, but having a positive attitude can go a long way. The person on the other end of the phone can tell a difference when you speak in a happy tone and they’re more likely to help or listen to what you’re saying.”

Each of the interns agreed that saving time is the biggest value Dunlap Marketing’s services provide to its customers. “Instead of spending time on setting appointments, sales reps can focus on their expertise and actually sell,” said Grace. Meredith added, “We [Dunlap Marketing] are the middle man between our client and their prospect. Dunlap Marketing reports back with details gathered from prospecting calls and the client can use that information to advance the sales process.”

Meredith summed up her experience by saying, “I have definitely improved and gained confidence in speaking with individuals as well as businesses on the phone. It’s a great skill to have in general, but even more important to me because I’m majoring in business. It’s essential to have these skills.”

Dunlap Marketing kicked off its internship program in the summer of 2015. It was a great success for the interns, Dunlap Marketing, and Dunlap’s clients. “The internship was extremely rewarding as well as eye opening,” said 2015 intern, Matt, University of Texas. “The program has proved to be a win-win for both our customers as well as business men and women in the making. Our client campaigns that staff interns flourish with the added enthusiasm. Additionally, these upcoming business leaders gain valuable, real-life knowledge and skills,” said president, Mike Dunlap. With such a fantastic experience for both the interns and clients, Dunlap Marketing will continue with the program. Please email Kaitlin, kaitlind@dunlapmarketing.com, for more information.

Top 8 Things INTERNS Will Tell You About Telemarketing

internship

Describe your experience this summer with your intern job at Dunlap Marketing.

  1. “I had the chance to gain valuable real-world experience while also developing my leadership skills and understanding how important marketing/sales is to every aspect of business.” – Jessica, University of Texas, Marketing
  1. “During the campaign it is hard work, but at the end of it, there is a sense of satisfaction hearing the final results, and knowing you took part in the early stages of the sales cycle.” – Matt, University of Texas, Accounting

What do you consider the most important thing you learned during your internship?

  1. “How to be fearless in a professional setting. Having made so many telemarketing calls during my time here, I know I can go into the workforce and not be afraid of meeting with people and selling.” – Allen, Texas A&M University, Finance
  1. “You can’t wait for business to come to you, and getting business is not as simple as putting an ad out. Identifying prospects and turning prospects into customers is the only way you will be successful.” – Matt, University of Texas, Accounting

What do you consider the second most important thing you learned?

  1. “Hard work pays off – just because something does not seem to be working in the moment, business is a numbers game. It’s also a game of inches, and every inch you can get goes a long way.” – Matt, University of Texas, Accounting
  1. “The reasoning that goes into the businesses’ strategy. Sitting down with Mr. Dunlap and hearing him talk about why he does things and why he doesn’t will really come in handy in the future.” – Allen, Texas A&M University, Finance

What do you consider the biggest value that a customer receives from Dunlap Marketing services?

  1. “It’s the security of knowing that everyone at Dunlap Marketing who works on their behalf is looking out for their best interest. Customers know they’re getting a high quality service.” – Allen, Texas A&M University, Finance
  1. “The one-on-one interaction with prospects. Talking individually to prospects makes a big difference. With Dunlap Marketing, customers know they are getting friendly voices to adapt to prospect needs and lead them through the first steps of making a sale.” – Jessica, University of Texas, Marketing