How to Get More Sales-Ready Leads and Increase Lead Engagement

How to Get More Sales-Ready Leads and Increase Lead Engagement

Most Demand Generation and Marketing Operations professionals are familiar with the concept of using lead scoring and a typical funnel model to prioritize the leads they create for Sales. It appears to be an age-old practice. Leads are received, and a score is assigned based on their level of participation and demographic characteristics. Over time, that score rises until… Poof! An MQL is conceived. From there, the prospect progresses through the funnel.

The classic funnel and lead scoring were created with the best of intentions. Because Marketing doesn’t want to burden Sales with leads who aren’t ready to buy, they use lead scoring to track engagement and identify which prospects should be followed up on as they progress down the funnel. It makes perfect sense: Sales doesn’t have to waste time on low-quality leads because Marketing takes care of the tough lifting in getting a lead to engage to the point where they’re ready to buy.

Is the traditional model, however, the best option? Is there any other way to get more sales-ready leads and boost lead engagement?


Leaving Lead Engagement Opportunities on the Table


The difficulty is that lead scoring isn’t very good at determining a lead’s intent on its own, especially in a world that’s been turned entirely upside down. Buyer behavior has evolved to the point that 79 percent of buyers are eager to speak with Sales at the awareness or consideration stages of their purchasing process, which is significantly earlier than most traditional lead handoff techniques would allow. Knowing this, there’s a good chance that by the time you give a lead on to Sales, it’ll be too late.

If you rely on a lead score to notify Sales when to follow up, you’re probably missing out on some crucial possibilities for engagement with your prospects and, as a result, losing money. Here are some examples of where the standard top-of-funnel procedure falls short:

Typically, you send out about 40% of your new leads as MQLs, with the remaining 60% going into a nurture program or retargeting campaign. How confident are you that every single one of those leads is actually “not ready”?

When leads have exhausted all of their nurture campaigns, they are frequently left in your database to get stale. You may launch revival campaigns now and again, but for the most part, those leads sit and you have to rely on them to raise their hands again on their own.

Of course, you’re snagging hot leads and sending them straight to the SDRs. But how quickly do they respond? In many circumstances, they don’t have the capacity to follow up within the same day (if not the same hour), or they give up after a few tries. Delays kill deals—the longer you wait to follow up, the less likely you are to be engaged.

What happens to a lead once it’s disqualified if Sales makes no attempt to qualify it? You undoubtedly have a nurture campaign in place that picks them up, but now you’re relying on the prospect to raise their hand and say they’re interested once more

You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take if you don’t take them.

We’ve devised a method for keeping leads in the top of the funnel and, as a result, slowing down the purchase cycle. Yes, it’s entirely unrealistic to expect Sales to follow up with each and every lead. You’ll not only have an army of disgruntled salespeople on your hands, but you’ll also have a strained Sales and Marketing relationship and wasted a lot of money in the process. Naturally, we want to assist Sales in prioritizing and facilitating outstanding conversations. However, when did priority become talking to only 40% of your prospects?

The truth is that if you never ask, you’ll never know if a prospect is interested in speaking with you. Unfortunately, the approach isn’t scalable for your Sales staff, so hold off on trashing your lead scoring approach just yet.

When you grade your leads, you usually have your SDR follow up with the best leads, referred to as “A leads”—this part remains the same. Rather than tossing your low-scoring leads into a nurture campaign and waiting for them to turn into MQLs, you can meet each prospect with a personalized greeting from an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA).

Giving your lower-scoring leads some individualized attention is known to accelerate their progress through the funnel, resulting in serious pipeline that would not have occurred if you had relied on those leads to surface over time.

CenturyLink, for example, reported a 16 percent to 20% boost in qualified leads simply by using an IVA on prospects that were less qualified in the traditional sense. When the IVA establishes that a lead is genuine, she can link that lead with a Salesperson in the same way that an SDR would.

Consider Using a Funnel That Isn’t a Traditional Funnel


Prioritization is necessary for a variety of reasons. Maintaining a decent lead volume for Sales and ensuring that Sales is having constructive interactions with prospects who are truly interested in buying are two of the most important goals. Prioritization, on the other hand, must coexist with coverage—that is, continue to hand along hot leads to Sales as part of a standard lead scoring plan, but don’t allow the rest of your leads to fend for themselves and navigate the buying process without assistance.

Intelligent Virtual Assistants can handle the heavy lifting of following up with all of your less-qualified prospects, putting less strain on Sales, and generating more pipeline from the leads you already have.

Furthermore, the IVA’s work can assist you in fine-tuning your lead generating strategy in real-time. The information the IVA gathers from leads you didn’t think were qualified might help you fine-tune your scoring model and better understand which channels are performing well.


No leads were lost. reduced overhead.
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