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How to Determine What an SQL is for Your Business

Posted by Fernando Gallo on Thursday, April 30, 2015

Topics: Sales Process

how-determine-what-sql-is-for-your-businessThanks to inbound marketing, we have digital marketing down to a science. We know what works and what doesn’t, and we understand how we can attract visitors to our business website (through the use of keyword-laden content). However, sales remains a very inexact science, which creates many anguished and confused salespeople. In fact, the struggling salesperson is so common, it has become cliché in modern entertainment; dating at least as far back as Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, which first hit the stage in 1949.

One of the primary concerns for any salesperson is determining when a lead has become a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). Basically, that means the lead is ready to be contacted by a salesperson and could potentially make a purchase immediately. There is no standard method for determining when a lead is sales ready – it truly can be different for any company in any industry. But if we use HubSpot’s Buyer’s Journey as a starting point, we can get a general idea of what an SQL looks like for your company.

Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

Every potential customer goes through a three-part Buyer’s Journey. Step 1 is Awareness: the buyer knows they have a problem, but they don’t know exactly what that problem is. Step 2 is Consideration: The buyer now understands precisely what their problem is, but they aren’t sure exactly how to solve it. Step 3 is Decision: The buyer knows how they’re going to tackle their problem, now they just need to find the right business, product or service to help them do it.

For our purposes, we’re going to disregard the first two steps of the Buyer’s Journey. These phases are of greater concern to marketing, which is trying to educate visitors about our products/services. Sales really comes to the forefront during step 3, and it’s easy to see why: sales needs to convince the lead that our products/services are the best way for them to solve their problem, which can only happen once the lead has decided on the type of product/service they need.

When is a lead in the Consideration stage?

Therefore, we now know that our SQL will be in the Consideration phase of the Buyer’s Journey. So how do we determine when that has happened?

The lead has made contact with our business: They’ve either filled out a form on our site and submitted it, or they’ve gone through the trouble of contacting us via email, our website or a phone call. When a lead is reaching out, they’re close to making a purchase.

They interact with our lead nurturing emails: repeatedly sending emails to leads not only keep our business on their minds, it also gives us a chance to gauge their interest. If a lead is opening and interacting with your sales emails, it is probably time to give them a call and push for a sale.

They’ve downloaded specific content offers: Leads that are in the consideration stage will be most interested in content such as case studies, product comparisons or trial downloads. If you have content offers similar to these on your site, and a lead has downloaded any of them, that’s a signal that they’re ready to consider a purchase. You should get on the phone with them right away.

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