Striking the Right Balance Between Lead Quality vs Quantity

Intronis CEO Rick Faulk and CMO Aaron Dun explain why bigger isn’t always better when it comes to scaling a SaaS company’s lead generation efforts.

For most growing SaaS companies, it’s relatively easy to drive either higher lead volume or better lead quality. But, according to Rick Faulk and Aaron Dun, the CEO and CMO of online cloud backup and recovery solution Intronis, it’s often very difficult to do both.

“Typically, when your objective is to raise lead volume, it comes at the expense of lead quality,” Dun explains. “And all too often, that imbalance tends to cause SaaS businesses to spin their wheels. Sure, they’ve got more leads coming in. But if the sales and marketing teams have to invest more time into filtering out the low quality ones, then what value does higher lead quantity really provide?”

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Dun says there are three steps SaaS marketers must take to ensure that they not only produce more leads, but also that they continue to filter and nurture those leads in a way that volleys only high quality opportunities to the sales team.

1) Establish efficient automation, nurturing, and scoring processes

Generally, Dun says that most established SaaS companies have some sort of process in place to automate and nurture lead generation. However, as many companies begin to step on the gas, those processes — which also tend to double as a filtering mechanism — often weren’t built to scale and break down as lead volume increases.

To change that, Dun says marketers must invest more time and energy into honing in on their processes for acquiring, filtering, nurturing, and scoring leads, and making adjustments to their lead generation efforts based on that information.

Aaron-Dun“If you treat every lead the same way, or you don’t have a scoring system in place that tells you which leads are more sales-ready than others, you’ll have a lot of waste or you’ll end up sending leads on to sales that aren’t really ready for that step.”

— Aaron Dun, CMO at Intronis

“You have to marry the ideas of inbound marketing and content marketing together with lead scoring and nurturing to build a holistic system,” Dun explains. “That allows you to attract and cultivate a wide range of lead cohorts.”

2) Implement an Automated Lead Filtering System or Consider Hiring a Lead Scrubber

There are numerous data collection tools and services (i.e. Data.com, Hoovers, etc.) that now allow marketers to easily match or supplement their lead information with that of outside databases. Dun says those services can be hugely valuable tools in a SaaS marketer’s arsenal, largely because they allow you to continue to refine your lead scoring models.

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“Depending on the system you use and the attributes you have in your scoring model, you could, for example, set a trigger that says if a lead comes in with ‘X, Y, and Z’ attributes, they go straight on to sales,” Dun says. “Conversely, if a lead comes in and doesn’t score high enough, a good lead filtering or scoring system could immediately redirect that lead to a different content source that better assesses the lead’s quality. And from there, the lead can be re-scored and re-directed again.”

Dun says another option could be to hire someone who is explicitly responsible for filtering lead quality with certain qualitative attributes that may fall through the cracks of an automated system. “Doing that would allow you to address the middle percentage of leads that have some gray area,” Dun explains. “Sometimes, it takes subjective analysis to really understand where a lead is and where it needs to go, and automated systems aren’t the best at doing that.”

3) Give a Little More to Get a Lot (and Consider Executing Progressive Profiling)

Dun says it’s critical to focus on improving the value that you deliver to prospects in exchange for their information (i.e., name, email address, phone number, etc.). The more you know about your buyers and what they need, Dun explains, the better your chances are of delivering the kind of highly relevant value that yields a higher volume of high quality leads.

Dun says that one way Intronis accomplishes that goal is by performing “progressive profiling.” For example, when a first-time visitor comes to the company’s blog, that person might be asked to sign up for Intronis’ newsletter with his or her email address only. If that same visitor responds to a future email campaign, they will ask them to provide a little bit more information about themselves (i.e., the position at their company, the company’s revenue size, etc.). And if they come back to take a product trial for example, the company would ask that visitor for another tidbit of information.

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“The idea is to acquire information over time as the prospect engages with additional  content pieces in the context of their buyer’s journey—rather than hitting prospects with a list of 20 questions either too early or too late in the process,” Dun says. “Ultimately, it allows you to deliver more relevant information to each lead and score them better based on a specific set of criteria.”

Importantly, Dun says there isn’t a perfect prescription for how or when you ask for more information. “It’s really just about understanding your audience and knowing which core elements will help you better score and nurture your leads,” Dun says.

Avoid Thinking You’ve Got it All Figured Out

As you’re doing each of the three things above, the one thing Faulk says it’s important not to forget the importance of iteration.

“For example, the first offer or piece of content that you deliver to prospects might not resonate with them, so you have to be ready to make your offer or content better,” Faulk explains. “It’s all about providing the value that your target customers really need to progress through the buying process. If your lead quantity and quality metrics aren’t where you want them to be, you need to keep iterating until you find that balance. And if your scoring model isn’t delivering the volume or quality of leads you need, then you may need to adjust that, as well.”

Rick Faulk is CEO at Intronis. A results-driven chief executive with more than 30 years of experience in executive management, sales and marketing, he has worked for some of the world’s most successful SaaS and technology companies, including j2 Global, Mzinga, Cisco, WebEx, Intranets.com and PictureTel. Connect with him on Twitter @rickfaulk.

What steps have you taken to maintain the balance between lead quality and quantity?

Photo by Gillie Rhodes

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