Sales lead funnel: Where do leads come from
As mentioned, sales leads come from different channels. Broadly, marketing and sales campaigns generate leads, so leads coming through respective channels are:
1. Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
An MQL is a lead that your marketing team qualifies based on the lead’s activity on your website (example: pages visited) and engagement with marketing content (example: downloaded an ebook on how to use your product).
When it comes to generating leads, the marketing department leverages website CTAs, downloadables, and marketing campaigns such as ad campaigns.
The team also produces relevant content to move leads through their content funnel. Here’s how this funnel is divided:
The first stage to create brand awareness, understanding leads’ problems, and create top of the funnel (TOFU) content about it, such as blogs and infographics, to attract them.
The second stage or the consideration stage when leads become aware of their problem and actively start searching for a solution. Here, you need to create middle of the funnel (MOFU) resources such as ebooks that talk in-depth about the problem and provide solutions in the form of your product or service. It is a good idea to gate and collect the contact information of leads downloading or accessing these resources.
The third stage or when the lead is both aware of their problem and possibly how your business can solve it as they try to understand your product/solution. To encourage them to call the shots in your favor, bottom of the funnel (BOFU) resources such as case studies, demo videos, and webinars help.
These MQLs are passed on to the sales team. Using a CRM, this is a breeze as all leads are captured and moved within the software. The marketing team can also track each lead’s status to understand how well they’re converting.
2. Sales qualified lead
SQLs are the leads that your sales team qualifies or accepts as a potential customer.
Where the marketing team moves the needle in driving awareness and assisting leads in the consideration stage, the sales team takes on the responsibility of closing deals by helping leads in the bottom of the funnel.
Let’s say a lead reads an ebook about your product’s capabilities in their consideration stage and now wants to understand further use cases on how your product might suit them. A salesperson can help with that by giving a personalized demo.
With outbound sales, sales reps are also involved in finding sales leads and nurturing them with emails and phone calls. They can use tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find leads who will benefit from your business offerings.
An important question then is:
How do you find the right lead?
Apart from the qualification methodologies discussed above, your sales team can consider the following parameters that gauge the quality of sales leads -
The lead fits your ideal customer profile (ICP). Meaning: their company size, budget, industry, and location are ones that your business serves.
The lead is the right person to make the purchasing decision. Depending on who your target is, this is important. Otherwise, you might be wasting your time engaging with a lead that has no power to call the final shots. So you’d rather target someone who can make the decision.
The lead is genuinely interested in your business. A CRM can help you identify this by looking at the lead’s website and email activity and their touchpoints with your marketing team (i.e. the marketing content they’ve consumed).
3. Customer or deal
You’d assume that a sales cycle ends when a lead converts into a buyer. Except there’s more: retaining customers or converting them into repeat buyers depending on your business model.
An eCommerce business, for example, would focus on turning closed deals into repeat orders. Say with the help of discount codes.
Similarly, a subscription-based business would want to take steps to keep their customer engaged to retain them. Overtime, account executives or the customer success team can also target retained users for upselling or cross-selling services to them. Again, a CRM can help you manage relationships with your customer – showing their in-app activity and assisting you in selling more.