When businesses talk about their desire for leads, one thing they often fail to do is define what makes a lead a sales lead and how they handle the different types. They also often fail at having an effective lead nurturing process for non-sales leads. Only by defining what leads mean to your organization can you implement measures to track and validate them for your sales and marketing funnels.
Lead validation is the process of separating true sales leads from non-leads. Although rarely done, it makes a huge difference in an organization’s ability to test elements of its various marketing campaigns and improve upon them quickly.
But before we can talk about lead validation, we first must define what is a lead and the process leads must go through to meet your organization’s needs and goals.
In my article titled, “Breaking Down the Sales Funnel” I distinguish leads across three different phases (or levels) – Suspects, Prospects, and Hand Raisers, but depending on your organization’s needs you may need to define more specific phases or levels.
A lead shouldn’t be limited to somebody that fills out a web form or calls you, nor should you necessarily assign all leads to the same point within your sales process. By defining multiple levels or phases of a lead you can validate them at their onset and as they pass along in your system.
In the embedded SlideShare presentation, Aaron Wittersheim, COO of Straight North, a Chicago-based Internet marketing company, shares his company’s analysis of more than 373,000 inquiries for a pool of clients over a period of 18 months. In his analysis, only 23,000 of these inquiries were not validated, leaving 350,000 that went through the entire process.
The result…about half of these leads, 178,000 were validated as sales leads.
- The first visit is the crucial visit. In Aaron’s data you will see the staggering drop-off in conversions after a person’s first visit to the landing pages.
- No lead validation = overstated results. Roughly 50% of all leads and inquire are NOT sales leads.
As you can see, lead tracking and validation give marketers the ability to optimize campaign performance to a higher degree than can be achieved through inquiry data alone. A good tracking and validation system can help an organization achieve a multitude of objectives such as the types of leads various sources produce, the ROI of those source, and so on.