And whether you know it or not, you've likely been guilty of an identity crisis or two in regards to your leads at some point in your marketing endeavors.
Passing off leads to sales prematurely is no laughing matter. Not only are you wasting their time on the phone, but they're also plotting against you, as the marketer, for dumping a heap of crap leads in their lap.
Top of the funnel leads are easy to manage. They're still identifying their need and methods of addressing it, so information and resources are their best friend.
Middle of the funnel leads are a bit more delicate. What type of nurturing do they require? Are they simply ready to be touched by sales right now? Have they even re-engaged enough to be considered an opportunity?
It's this back and forth that often leads to many MOFU leads being marked as sales ready prior to them actually meeting the criteria for being so.
Since lifecycle stages are subjective to the marketer and company who determines their sales funnel, I thought I'd highlight the criteria that every MOFU lead should meet prior to being passed off to sales.
The Characteristics of a Middle of the Funnel Opportunity
This one sounds obvious, but once again, "educated" means something different to every marketer.
It should never be assumed that because a lead has downloaded an ebook you deem essential to your sales process, that they are in fact educated. Who says they even read the entire ebook?
To truly understand whether a lead is appropriately educated, it's important to delve into their behaviors as it relates to your website and content. Are they opening – and clicking – relevant emails?
Have they re-engaged with your brand on their own?
It should be noted that if they aren't digesting more advanced content to move through your sales funnel, they aren't any more "educated."
Consuming five introductory offers doesn't mean a lead has worked to the middle of your sales funnel. If you notice leads moving backwards, meaning they go back to downloaded intro offers after reading something more advanced, this is another sign that they may not be educated enough to be considered for sales.
Volume isn't an indicator here. What type or level of content is a lead consuming?
Never assume a lead is educated. Doing so only makes the sales process that much longer.
Not to be confused with social engagement – although this is certainly helpful – look for your leads to engage actively with any communications on your behalf.
How do they respond to your lead nurturing efforts?
Are they clicking through on emails? Not even opening them?
In HubSpot, you can actually create segmented smart lists that contain only leads who have clicked through on an email.
Your lead nurturing campaign is where the great leads are discovered. You just need to be looking for them and using the tools necessary in order to identify them.
How many emails has a particular lead clicked on? Between their level of education and high level of engagement, you almost have a case for qualifying a lead as sales ready.
As I just mentioned, if a lead is educated and displaying a high level of engagement with your brand, here's where it's time to get more granular in your assessment in order to fully identify a lead as an opportunity.
Using whatever marketing automation software you have at your disposal, start analyzing what your leads are doing on your website.
What pages are they visiting?
Quantify that. After all, wouldn't a lead who visits your pricing page be a bit more valuable than one who is simply viewing your homepage?
How often are they coming back to your website? Are they doing so on their own?
Monitor a lead's behavior, as this is a huge indicator as to whether they're actually serious about your brand, or simply gathering information.
Lastly, while this may sound obvious, is a particular lead even meeting the demographics your company deems necessary for a successful sales process?
Think of the information you're attempting to gather on your lead capture forms.
It could anything from geographic, industry type, company size, or even age.
Don't waste your sales team's time and resources by delivering leads that don't even align with the demographics your company has identified as essential.
Again, while this may seem obvious, it's also easy to overlook when a lead seems to meet all the other criteria. Educated. Engaged.
However, demographics ensure they're qualified to work with you.