In the face of increasing goals and changing preferences of B2B buyers, sales and marketing teams alike are being forced to evolve in order to meet the needs of their prospects today. And on top of those changes, they’re being asked to hit lofty revenue-based KPIs, so it’s not shocking that ways to drive faster sales cycles are a hot topic today.
But the secret to faster sales cycles, as we’ll see below, is actually making sure you’re engaging with the right prospects through a process called lead qualification.
What is Lead Qualification?
Lead qualification is the process of identifying which of your prospects are the best fit for your sales process and solution, and therefore, which leads your sales team should be focusing on the most. The process of lead qualification begins in the early stages of your prospects’ research and buying process, and continues as they move down your marketing funnel, all with the goal of gathering answers to sales qualifying questions.
Better Qualification, Shorter Sales Cycles
When you focus your energy on qualifying and disqualifying leads, your sales team is able to spend their time prioritizing following up and building relationships with the very best prospects for your company.
In fact, 67 percent of sales are lost as a result of sales reps not properly qualifying their potential customers before taking them through the full sales process.
By efficiently qualifying your leads across marketing and sales generated prospects, your team can focus on nurturing the right leads, shortening sales cycles, and reducing wasted effort.
But effective qualification requires more than just activity-based lead scoring today. That’s why savvy marketers and salespeople are turning to interactive content to collect deep, qualitative information that can’t be gleaned from traditional lead scoring indicators, like visits to a pricing page.
Tools for Interactive Lead Qualification
Interactive PDFs represent a unique opportunity to transform your top of the funnel content into a lead qualification engine guaranteed to shorten your sales cycle. Layering sales qualifying questions on top of your static PDFs presents an opportunity to learn about your prospects earlier, and tailor follow-up to move them down the funnel more quickly.
This example from Montage Talent does just that with their report on AI in the talent acquisition industry. While this type of industry overview guide tends to be top-of-the-funnel content, by making the PDF interactive, they were able to ask qualifying questions that resulted in nearly 28 percent clicks to leads and over 53 percent leads to form view ratios.
Read more about the power of interactive PDFs here.
Solution finders are the secret weapon of well aligned marketing and sales teams, and can help radically shorten your sales cycle when leveraged correctly.
Sometimes called product pickers, solution finders are used to help prospects differentiate between multiple solutions your company might offer. They are often set up as short assessments that result in personalized recommendations for users based on information they provide.
This example from Blackbaud helps prospects differentiate between two of their fundraising software solutions by offering objective information about which solution more closely lines up with a prospect’s needs, based on sales qualifying questions. Suggesting prospects check out your product picker to fact check information you’ve already discussed, or incorporating their results into your conversations builds trust that is critical as you move into the negotiation and closing stages of the sales process. And the results speak for themselves:
ROI calculators take inputs from users and combine them based on a set formula to generate numerical results. This allows users to evaluate specific solutions to their pain points quickly, which can also be critical for faster and more in-depth lead qualification.
Calculators create a dialogue with your audience by providing valuable, personalized content (in the form of numerical impact) at specific stages in their buying journey. The rich data collected from calculators can then be mapped to your marketing automation for lead scoring, trigger campaigns, disqualification, and to inform further sales conversations to speed the sales cycle.
This example from Iron Mountain, a company that provides data and records management services, created this calculator to help their prospects understand the costs of not employing a record keeping service. By structuring their content this way, Iron Mountain created a powerful sales enablement tool, which helps create urgency, and shortens the sales cycle by collecting powerful qualifying information.
You’d be hard pressed to find a business today that would say they’re uninterested in improving and shortening their sales cycle, and improving lead qualification is an often overlooked opportunity to do so. By employing interactive qualification tools, like interactive PDFs, solution finders, and calculators, you can make sure that both marketing and sales are spending their time focused on the right leads.