If you’ve ever wondered – how do I qualify leads and stop wasting time on tire-kickers – then I’m sure you’ll love the advice I’ve got for you today:

A guide to improving your inbound marketing leads.

In this post, you’ll learn how to qualify leads and save valuable time you could spend developing other areas of your business.

Interested? Let’s begin.

#1. Know Your Customer And Their Journey

Before you can qualify leads, you need to know what a quality lead looks like for your business. Often, a lack of sales-ready leads ties back to a foggy sense of who exactly would benefit from your services.

If your company provides IT infrastructure management, then you’re targeting specific businesses. You’re looking for growing companies without a dedicated IT team and perhaps little to no overall IT strategy.

And so, as the first step, target your marketing toward that audience to improve lead quality.

We’ve written about how to differentiate your MSP from the competition in the past.

But what does targeted marketing actually look like?

For One, It’s Transparent

If you’re looking to cut down on the noise of unqualified leads in your sales funnel, transparency is essential.

Leverage success stories from similar clients that found the solution through your MSP business.

Your goal: show what your business can do, without revealing how you do it.

Dangle the carrot just enough so that your ideal client knows you understand their struggles. But, make sure they need to speak with you to understand how it happens.

It Understands Your Customer’s Buying Process

Whether you’re selling to an early stage startup or a well-established business that needs urgent IT help, it’s likely that your customer’s buying process for outsourcing to an MSP is fairly complex.

sales process to qualify leads

(image source)

Investors, finance, any existing IT leadership, and the C-suite may all need to sign-off on a new deal. It’s your job to know the buying process of your customers. Tailor your content to each stage in that process.

A high-level understanding won’t cut it. As Mike Lieberman, Co-founder of Square 2 Marketing, an inbound marketing firm, writes:

“[Y]ou and your sales team must be able to find out exactly where every prospect is on their individual path. How is it different? What are the unique issues? How can you help? What does the timing look like? Every one of your prospects is going to be slightly different, and your team needs to know how and why.”

Prospective clients are looking for an MSP that can truly “own” components of their business that are inhibiting growth. Tailoring your marketing strategy to their buying process is the first way to demonstrate you know their business.

It Provides Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is often the key differentiator between your MSP business and the competition. If your company becomes a go-to resource for quality, industry-specific content, the gap between you and your competitors widens in your favor.

There are two things:

First, that the content is varied enough to be appropriate for customers at different stages in their buying process. It’s tempting to gear all your marketing efforts towards sales-ready leads, but leveling your content will refine qualified leads and keep future customers at earlier stages in the buying process coming back to you for more.

Second, that the content is selfless, not selfish. Again, the temptation is there to try and relate all content back to the services you provide in hopes of higher conversion rates but remember: that’s not the goal. We want to see higher quality leads, not necessarily a higher quantity. Sharing thought leadership that is geared toward the pains and processes of your ideal customer will help you get there.

#2. Add Qualifying Questions to Your Inquiry Form

Yes, it’s true:

A concise inquiry form that only asks for the basic INFORMATION – name, company, contact information –  is going to get you far more leads.

But it’s unlikely going to get you many qualified leads.

For that, you’ll need to expand your inquiry form with additional fields that will help you better assess the leads that are entering your funnel and prioritize your outreach.

Consider incorporating the following fields into your inquiry form to better qualify leads upfront:

  1. Business challenges. A free-type field that asks your customer to outline in a sentence or two what challenge(s) their organization is up against is a great way to qualify leads. If you know your customer’s buying process, it should be fairly easy to connect the dots between the challenges a business is facing and how close they are to needing your services.
  2. Title/Role or a LinkedIn profile link. Determining whether or not you’re dealing with a decision maker minimizes the time you’ll spend on the phone qualifying leads.
  3. Budget. Again, this saves you valuable time by weeding out the tire-kickers. Instead of leaving this field up to the imagination, we recommend offering a few different budget ranges for a lead to select from. This way, you’re getting an idea of how much your lead is willing to spend, and they’re getting a general indication of how much your services are going to cost.

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#3. Let Your Leads Self-qualify With Tiered Calls-to-action

In a marketing strategy intended to attract quality leads, a tiered series of varying calls-to-action helps qualify leads before they even enter your funnel.

Example. Imagine that a startup CEO struggling with their IT infrastructure has found you on Google.

They’re reviewing your site and find a case-study of a similar-sized startup that found success through your services. The call-to-action at the end of the case-study encourages the now-interested lead to complete an inquiry form to talk with a member of the team that actually worked on this client’s implementation.

Bingo!

You’ve now peaked their interest through tailored content, and a call-to-action specifically focused on what’s interesting to that lead at that stage in the buying process.

But…

A larger company with previous experience partnering with an MSP likely wouldn’t be as compelled by the same case-study, which is why you need tiered calls-to-action on your site that addresses different client sizes and stages in the buying process.

Here are a few calls-to-action you should consider for your site:

  1. Get Started. Instead of “Sign-up” or “Contact Us,” which are generic and bland, “Get Started” opens up so many possibilities for your lead on what may unfold. “Get Started” reads like you’re embarking on something exciting, not joining a mailing list.
  2. See Our Work. For leads in the earlier stages of the buying process like the startup in the above example, a link to your portfolio of testimonials (leveled, of course, so there’s something for everyone) is a great way to open the door to the services you offer.
  3. Find Out More. As mentioned earlier, a good content strategy shares a lot of positive results from existing clients, but doesn’t reveal the specifics on how success is reached. A call-to-action like this one lures your leads into that next step in the process.

Conclusion

Fact: not every lead is a good business opportunity.

And hopefully, after reading this post, you now know how to quickly qualify leads to identify opportunities worth pursuing.

 

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