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Defining a Qualified Lead, Pt 3: Types and Stages of Leads

Sharon Swendner

Sharon Swendner is vice president of dealer relations at Cirrus Solutions, a dealer management system and marketing program provider built by dealers for dealers. www.cirrussolutions.com. 

So far in our series on Defining a Qualified Lead, we have gone over what a qualified lead is and what common buyer characteristics to consider in defining a qualified lead for your business. In this third article, we’ll review a typical marketing funnel and go over some ways to define leads as they make their way through the funnel.

The Marketing Funnel and Your Customer

Because the people your team speaks with may be in different phases of their decision cycle, you may need different approaches based on where they are in the marketing conversion funnel.

We first introduced the marketing funnel concept in our article Steps to the Sale.

Figure 1: Marketing Conversion Funnel

 

Leads Through the Stages of the Marketing Funnel

If you think about the lead type and quality through this funnel, you may define leads in several ways:

Lead Generation (Awareness) = SUSPECTS

At this early state of the sales cycle, you typically won’t know anything about the lead and if they fit into your buyer profile characteristics. Many will not flow down the funnel to become buyers. Some will ultimately buy.

Lead Nurture (Interest, Consideration) = PROSPECTS

At these phases, your marketing job is to learn about the suspects to turn them into prospects. This includes:

  • Asking for their information via landing pages and contact forms on your website or at your location (name, email, phone)
  • Providing them content that can help them move further into your funnel
  • Identifying intent triggers:
    • Timing to purchase
    • Consumption of specific content such as pricing, unit specifications, etc.

Sales (Intent, Evaluation) = QUALIFIED LEADS

At some trigger point, either using content triggers above or things such as lead scoring or purchase intent models, these leads will become qualified to interact with the sales teams. When this happens, send them to the sales team or encourage them to visit your location if they have not already done so.

Sales (Purchase) = QUALIFIED BUYERS

At this final stage, your sales team will be fully interacting with these leads: qualifying them for purchase, negotiating and finalizing deals.

In the next article in our “Defining a Qualified Lead” series, we’ll focus on ways for your sales team to qualify leads in person. 

 

BIO: Sharon Swendner is Vice President of Dealer Relations at Cirrus Solutions, a Dealer Management System and Marketing program provider built by dealers for dealers.  www.cirrussolutions.com.