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What’s more important than QUANTITY when it comes to lead generation? Ask anyone who’s ever been involved with a lead-gen effort and their response will no doubt be, “QUALITY.”

So what goes into generating a quality B2B lead? Three things:

1. Good Data — For B2B marketers, “data decay” has always been an issue. And with B2B data-decay rates estimated at 25% annually — and even up to 70% during times of economic downturn — the cost of bad data can really add up! B2B data decay wreaks havoc on your ability to maintain contact with and nurture your target buyers at key accounts. It can also mistakenly target prospects who have moved up or on — leaving you with outdated or irrelevant messaging — and can put companies at a serious disadvantage in targeting their campaigns for effective lead generation. According to Mary Firme, Chief Lead Accelerator and Director of Marketing at ReachForce, “As people change jobs more often and more people get into the buying process, you simply can’t deliver what you’re supposed to if the data decay issue is not addressed consistently.

By introducing data cleanse and enrichment programs into your marketing operations process, you’ll established a clean, complete, and uniform database that can be used to fuel better demand generation efforts. But don’t take my word for it — find out how nCircle identified half a million dollars in sales in newly cleansed lead records that were candidates for deletion in this ReachForce case study.

2. Customer Intelligence — Wouldn’t it be great to be able to wrap your head around all the activity and interaction a prospect had with your content before they ever became a customer? If you’re still using traditional analytics to anonymously track page views, referral sources, goals, and the like, you’ll have to keep playing The Guessing Game.

The ability to associate the entire behavioral history of an anonymous website visitor to a real, live person up to the point they became a customer is a game changer. Modern people-centric analytics platforms are able to accomplish this feat of “internet magic” through a combination of code that installs tracking cookies on website visitors, and well-crafted and optimized landing pages with clear calls to action. When someone downloads a piece of content from one of these landing pages, their data is captured via a form, and the cookie they received way back when they were first visiting your site gets tied to that person, creating an individual profile of their history. There are a lot of things you can do with this level of detail in your analytics — from identifying the pieces of high-value content that convert the most visitors for you, to analyzing your conversion funnels to find out where people fall off your carefully planned content paths, to determining the lifetime value of your real customers.

3. Qualification — Arguably the most important of the 3 pillars is qualification. As we learned in “Are Your Marketing, Sales, & Lead-Gen Services DRIVING Revenue?” 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads are qualified (Source: MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey; Methodology). It’s important to define what your business will define as an acceptably qualified lead that should be worked by your sales department, since a “lead” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.

A great framework for helping to define a qualified lead is BANT – Budget, Authority, Need, Timeframe. {Tweet this!}

{Monthly GROW eNewsletter} Subscribe today!Top sales executives at IBM used this framework to create the Signature Selling Method (SSM) that effectively mapped their sales process to the natural cycle a customer goes through when making a decision regarding a purchase.

This systematic demand generation process was the first of its kind for such a large enterprise. Much like a marketer today would develop a buyer persona, SSM was designed to garner a deep understanding of the customers’ (a) business issues and initiatives and (b) current technology environment and needs, so IBM could articulate — in detail — a solution that would win their business.

Targeted and integrated marketing campaigns would seek to qualify leads for IBM technology solutions by collecting valuable business intelligence through the SSM process. Scores agreed upon by both marketing and sales departments would be applied to the data collected, and when a certain score was met — a lead was deemed “sales qualified” and passed over to be worked.

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So there you have it —

The 3 pillars of a quality B2B lead: (1) Good Data, (2) Customer Intelligence, and (3) Qualification.

When combined with technology like CRM and Marketing Automation, customers are able to be tracked along the entire buying process. Lead scoring can be applied automatically, based on behavioral cues, allowing you to nurture a prospect along their buying journey — delivering the right message at the right time.

At Cultivate Communications, we believe that truly effective marketing should follow the customer through this natural buying cycle. We call this process Growth Cycle Marketing and use it to help our clients develop and deliver high-value content throughout the entire journey a buyer takes on the way to becoming a customer.

Stop by our learning resources section of our website for a series of articles, eBooks, and other resources full of tips, tricks, and strategies to help you convert more leads into more sales for YOUR business. It’s all there — FREE for the taking.

If you have further questions about lead generation or lead scoring, connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m always happy to “talk shop.”

Mike Kissel

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