A reader asks: How can phone calls from prospects be tracked to determine my marketing statistics for the month, without having to relay so much on the people answering those calls at the office. Are there tools that can be utilized to optimize phone call generation information?
Putting a system in place to capture and track leads can be challenging. The first step is to decide beforehand which metrics will best quantify your success. With phone calls, you might be looking at
- What types of people are calling?
- How did they find you?
- What stage of the decision making process are they in?
- Are they qualified to do business with you?
All firms hope that everyone who calls is a qualified lead ready to do business with them. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, so it’s up to you to qualify them. To do so, you need to quantify exactly what types of people will be a good fit for you.
Inquiries vs. Qualified Leads
There’s a big difference between an inquiry and a qualified lead, so let’s define the terms.
Inquiry: When people contact you in any way – via phone, email, website, etc – they are making an inquiry. They want to know more about you and whether you can help them. Here, you know nothing about them, while they know at least enough information to contact you. At this stage, you have no idea if they have a problem you can solve and can/will pay your fees to hire you.
Lead: Inquiries become leads when you pre-qualify them. This is the basic information you need to know to determine whether this prospect is worth your time. These questions will be different from firm to firm, but should be questions anyone can ask to get a feel for who the inquirer is and what they are looking for. If their answers match your ideal pre-qualification questions, then generally, you move forward to a phone or face-to-face consultation. If not but they have potential, you add them to your lead nurturing list.
Qualified Lead: Leads become “qualified” if they meet your criteria for your idea prospect – and like the pre-qualification questions, they are specific to your firm. Usually that includes things like the person has an immediate need for your solution, they are the decision maker, and they have a set timeframe and budget. These are the most likely to buy and should be given to your sales team.
Defining a Qualified Lead
Here’s where you need to pull your sales team together and ask them “What do you consider a qualified lead? What characteristics do your ideal prospects have? Who is involved in the buying process?”
Typical answers usually include:
- Does the inquirer have a specific need for your solution?
- Are they a decision maker?
- What is their time frame for purchasing?
- Do they have a budget for the project?
- Is the size of the opportunity worth your time and effort?
- Are they ready to speak to someone at your firm?
This is usually an evolving process that requires several meetings between marketing and sales. Here, you can follow up with sales about particular opportunities – was ABC a lead? Why or why not? How long did it take them to make a decision? What other information would you have liked to know about them?
Once you have a good idea of the types of people you are looking for, you can set metrics to help you measure your goals. If you are looking to measure the quality of your calls, make sure everyone in your office agrees to the set of pre-qualification questions they should ask each caller. The answers to these questions will determine if
- they are ready to talk to a sales person
- they aren’t ready to buy and should be added to your lead nurturing list
- they are a bad fit for your company
Over the course of the month, you can record how many of each category you receive. Most people will probably fall into category #2 – those that don’t have an immediate need, are collecting information, wanted your free report or information kit, don’t have a set time frame/budget, aren’t the decision maker, etc.
These people are not lost causes – studies show that with consistent follow up, 75-80% of these leads will eventually buy, so having a long term lead nurturing system in place is critical to your lead generation success.
You might also look at other metrics like how people are finding you – through your ads, mailings, website, referrals, etc – to determine where your best leads are coming from and focus more resources on the better tactics.