5 Techniques to Automate Prospecting and Improve Quality of Your Leads and Marketing

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Below, we’re sharing this insider-look to help you automate your prospecting and increase the quality of leads. These strategies will allow you to build a tested framework that qualifies leads from marketing to sales and promises higher conversion rate. We’ll be discussing the following strategies:

  1. Having a solid model for lead qualification
  2. Funneling initial leads with a clear response framework
  3. Identifying pain points of sales ready leads
  4. Setting triggers to identify other high-value actions
  5. Funneling sales ready leads with progressive profiling

Learning from experience is a good thing, but learning from other’s experience is better. In this article we’ll discuss some great strategies from one of the most successful SaaS vendors and a thought leader in inbound and lead generation – HubSpot.

Having clear email workflows, persona snapshots, rich content database and the right tools has allowed HubSpot to improve and grow its business to more than 40,000 customers in 90 countries today. At the core of their secret sauce is the discipline to understand its market and the commitment to invest in the right tools.

You can automate or streamline all of the prospecting marketing strategies we’ll discuss with HubSpot CRM and HubSpot Sales, which are both great tools that allow you to create email templates, schedule email sequences, set triggers, associate records and lay down a clear visual sales pipeline to track nurtured leads towards the bottom of the funnel. Or, you can try any of these leading CRM solutions, but make sure you have the same features as the ones offered by HubSpot, otherwise such tools simply won’t be able to automate your processes well-enough.

You’ll be needing those features to follow the prospecting techniques listed below, so we recommend that you start on the right footing and sign up for a HubSpot CRM free app here.

How can you effectively automate your prospecting and increase quality of leads? Let’s discuss the best strategies you can take:

1. Have a solid model for lead qualification

The first step is to establish a clear matrix for lead qualification. MQLs are basically divided into two columns — sales ready and sales unready — intersected by two rows of good fit and poor fit to create four quadrants. The best leads are in the upper left quadrant (sales ready and good fit) with the least qualified at the lower right quadrant (unready and poor fit). It looks like this:

Generally, sales ready leads are ones that are open to talk to sales. You may have your specific rules on this, but a common example of sales ready leads are people directly contacting your sales and and asking for something. They can ask about your pricing, your product features or requesting a demo. Unready leads are simply leads that don’t reach out to your sales for some reason.

Identifying good fit versus poor fit leads should also be fairly simple, a matter of knowing your ideal customers. Good fit are leads that fall under any of your personas, while poor fit are outliers.

If you’re unclear about your personas, now is the time to get back to the drawing board with your team. Six Ventures provides a clear strategy on how to define your personas, mainly by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Who’s your ideal customer?
  2. Would they know they’re your ideal customer if they looked at your marketing site?
  3. Of your current customer base, what percentage does your ideal customer represent?

The lead qualification matrix can be tweaked further to suit more detailed scenarios. HubSpot suggests adding a special sales-ready column for leads that are explicit about buying; hence, they are given special attention by the vendor. Updated matrix can look like this:

The tricky part  is knowing the prospects’ engagement so they can be put in the right top row. Except for those that are clearly buying, sales-ready leads need nurturing towards a sales conversation. To go straight to selling may drive away some of them.

There are many ways to measure engagement, check out these metrics to measure website engagement suggested by Content Marketing Institute.

For HubSpot, it boils down to profiling. Knowing how certain groups of prospects respond to different offers helps the vendor put the leads in the right top bucket. That means keeping a close tab on your conversion rates at this early stage of lead funneling.

Once you have strong criteria for qualifying leads, you can automate the process with HubSpot’s lead scoring feature. It will help you in building smart lists of contacts for the next stage. You can actually do that right away, just sign up for HubSpot for free here and start automating your prospecting.

2. Funnel initial leads with a clear response framework

The next stage in automating prospecting marketing is to establish an immediate connection with sales ready leads. For good-fit sales ready leads, HubSpot team sends each of them an email based on the rep’s tone and communication style. This lends the message an authentic and personal touch.

You can follow the same tactic with an email template and triggers for sales ready leads. But, as the vendor qualifies, the email should sometimes be adjusted to adapt to specific regions and how reps conduct outreach there. Here’s a sample contact email from HubSpot:

At this stage, you need not bother your busy rep while you follow up with the initial leads. Here’s how HubSpot does it:

“We put the rep’s actual email in the FROM: line, and we include a link to the rep’s personal calendar link.”

 

If you’re using HubSpot Sales you can easily sync the email and calendar so your rep is kept in the loop.

But what of sales ready but poor fit leads? Here, you need to walk a fine line. You want to avoid bugging sales with false leads and waste their time, while you don’t want to appear a snub to people who like your product.

One way is to divert poor fit leads to a knowledge base or content funnel and nurture their engagement in there. Again, this can be automated with lead scoring, knowledge base, autoresponder and analytics. You must also have a rich content library that relates to your market category.

3. Identify pain points of sales ready leads

Even with a focused lead generation campaign and landing pages with clear messaging and CTAs, the bulk of what you’ll get is likely to be good fit but unready leads. This means a lot of nurturing to direct prospects towards a willingness to talk to sales and improve conversion at this stage. In this case you provide value, not a product pitch, to hook the leads until they’re sales ready.

At this stage you should address a problem, pain point or question of the prospect. Here your personas and targeted content come into play. Having a clear picture of your personas, you can intuitively align your response along their interest by using the right content.

For example, we know that web visitors who download our Top 15 CRM Software for Enterprises buyer’s guide are interested in this specific subset in our CRM software programs category.

This allows us to send them an email featuring more detailed reviews of each top player on the list they’re already familiar with. Some of these leads will actually subscribe to a free trial and that’s the only time they are directed to the vendor’s sales team.

HubSpot suggests a great tactic for conversion nurturing: “We ask the person what their biggest challenge is and then give them four CTAs to choose from.”  Based on their CTA choice, the prospect receives relevant content.

This will help you to contextualize what prospects are trying to do. Ultimately, these leads get an immediate connect email or are bucketed as poor fit. Using email sequences, email templates, lead scoring and analytics in HubSpot, this process can be fully automated.

4. Set triggers to identify other high-value actions

Many of your sales ready leads will come from different channels like your website, social pages and old prospect lists. So it’s important to set triggers to capture prospects’ high-value actions in these channels.

Triggers are specific actions taken by prospects that tell you they want engagement. These can be browsing your pricing page, downloading a digital asset or prolonged use of your free app.

Do you have analytics in place for these prospect’s actions? You should, so that you know what actions are being taken by prospects and you can set triggers for appropriate actions on your part.

Consider integrated analytics like the one you find in HubSpot, especially if you have numerous marketing channels. Integrated analytics gives you detailed reports on where your prospects are engaged, such as: product websites, landing pages, emails, blog posts, social pages and CTAs on other channels.

With clear trigger-action rules, HubSpot channels its leads in different ways:

  1. Enroll the person in a workflow
  2. Send an internal notification to the appropriate sales rep
  3. Retarget the person on social

Communication is critical in automating this part to avoid duplicating emails or actions, an annoyance at best to prospects. Hence, the rep is kept in the loop even though he isn’t yet involved. In HubSpot CRM, you can configure a sales pipeline in a way that shows you what previous steps were involved in each deal, so the rep knows the exact next step to take.

How sales rep is notified about the recent actions on leads.

5. Funnel sales ready leads with progressive profiling

HubSpot calls it micro-nurturing, which allows you to continuously collect more information from leads through progressive profiling. This is quite different from the standard email marketing technique that funnels down replies to different branches depending on prospects’ response.

Progressive profiling collects data to help you put more context in future offers and be more relevant to your prospects. This means prospects don’t hit a snag down the funnel, but as more data comes in, they are being reassessed and requalified. When some of them turn up sales ready, they are forwarded to rep, while the others are funneled back with more focused content or offer until they’re ready.

There’ll be dropouts in this process, but so long as make sure your lead scoring is accurate and conversion rates are tightly monitored, you can eventually convert many MLQs to sales ready, if not today, maybe tomorrow. Here’s how HubSpot puts progressive profiling as an example:

“Let’s say someone downloads an infographic template that only requires them to provide us with their email address. We might send them an email with a related offer that requires them to provide us with their name and job title. If they don’t act on it, that’s fine, but if they do, then we send them another related offer that asks for a little more information.”

Progressive profiling can be automated with lead scoring, email sequences, content library and a lead funnel to track the MQLs until they can be exported to the sales pipeline.

A typical lead funnel logic where HubSpot gradually collects lead data via tiered offers.

Conclusion

Lead generation is important to sales, in the same way as marketing can qualify sales ready leads. That’s why it’s important for your marketing team to keep a close tab on your lead funnel. However, it doesn’t mean you have to spend your entire days stuck with it. Automation frees you up from this tedious process. Even more important, automation means you can focus on fine tuning lead criteria and conducting experimentation to stay in tune with the market beat.

You can easily implement all the above lead funneling strategies and prospecting techniques with HubSpot or some other free CRM software. If you’re still wondering how to automate your prospecting and increase quality of leads, try using these techniques and let us know how it went. Or you can jump right in and sign up for HubSpot for free here to start automating your prospecting.

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