To make a sale, you need to find potential clients who are interested enough in your business. That’s why lead generation is so vital for any company keen on turning a profit.

And while it can be helpful to drum up as many prospects as possible, the sheer quantity of your leads is meaningless if you aren’t closing any sales. If you want customers to actually buy what you’re selling, your quality of leads needs to be up to par. 

But what makes a lead good? And how do you nurture a business relationship with an ideal customer? Follow along for everything you need to know. 

What Is a Good Lead?

For starters, a lead is a person or company interested in what you’re selling. Some salespeople get a little more specific and only consider leads to be potential clients they’ve already interacted with in some way (over the phone, via email, etc.). 

Either way, any contact who’d conceivably give you business can be a lead. But a good one comes with much more than just a phone number and job title. Good leads, by definition, have a sky-high likelihood of translating into actual purchases. The better the lead, the higher the conversion rate. 

4 Characteristics of High-Quality Leads

Good leads are tailored to your target audience, meaning they vary according to the needs of your company. That said, the best ones have some traits in common:

Great Data

A high-quality lead means you have access to a treasure trove of all the relevant information about a potential customer and their buying habits. This includes basic contact information like a phone number, email address, job title, and your lead’s business goals. 

But that’s just one piece of the puzzle. With the best leads, you know exactly how one potential client compares to the rest of your target demographic. They come with clusters of data about a customer’s company: its annual revenue, market share, number of employees, and growth rate. 

With a high-quality lead, you also know where your potential customer is located in the sales funnel. This data helps businesses to meet customers wherever they stand in their purchase journey, and nurtures them towards a hopeful sale. 

the sales funnel

Demonstrated Interest

If you ran a gourmet cheese service, would you target your sales pitches to known vegans? Probably not — because good leads should be interested in your business solutions. You can gauge a lead’s interest by, for example, seeing whether they’ve visited your pricing page online. Or if they’ve contacted your sales team. 

Good leads are also attuned to a company’s buying signals. Anything from their business partnerships to online job listings may hint that a customer is interested in what you’re selling. 

But don’t conflate interest with intent (see next). 

Qualified Leads

Many people may want your product or service. But to be classed as a good lead, a potential buyer needs to be qualified.

A qualified lead is a prospective client who needs what you’re selling, and can afford it. They should also have a problem your business can actually solve, and the power to make a purchase. 

Leads That Are Quick and Easy to Close

Sales take time. Time is money. So any lead that has a short sales cycle relative to the value of any eventual deal is a good one. 

High-quality leads also make salespeople’s jobs easier, because they’re potential customers who require little convincing of a business solution’s value.

How to Find High-Quality Leads

Now that you know what sets a good lead apart, consider these three strategies for seeking them out in practice: 

Know Your Customer

Who is your target customer? A concise answer should be at the core of every sales and marketing strategy, because your best leads will always fit that customer profile. 

If you’re still murky on who your ideal customer is, a good starting point is to look at your existing ones. Which of them did you convert the most easily? Which made you the most money? Are there any traits most of your customers have in common? If you want good leads, you need to constantly evaluate (and re-evaluate!) your client base to see what’s resonating and what’s changing.

Progressive Profiling

Say you’re getting a lot of leads, but their quality is unknown. Progressive profiling is a handy method of unearthing the good prospects by building a profile for each potential customer who regularly interacts with your business. 

For instance, say your company uses a form that asks a different question each time the same lead visits your website. Not only are you tracking repeat visitors, you’re also developing a view of this lead that grows more complete with every answered question.

Instead of bombarding leads with dozens of questions right off the bat, this approach is steadier, giving leads a chance to consider your business before you begin heavy engagement.

Consider the Source

Where are your leads coming from? If you want good ones, you should be searching across a variety of channels. Modern B2B marketing campaigns cast a wide net to target customers, using everything from social media and email marketing newsletters to cold calls and snail mail.

The more information you have about where, why, and how often a lead interacted with your business, the better your lead becomes. For example, a phone number you got via the referral of a happy customer is probably a higher quality lead than an anonymous Twitter user who “liked” your post. 

How to Measure the Quality of Your Leads

Lead quality is more of a spectrum than a simple binary of good versus bad. And luckily, there are a few handy ways to measure how effective a lead is.

Track these 7 Lead Quality Metrics

Some good lead generation data to consider:

  • Click-through rate: Shows the amount of users who clicked on a specific link compared to the total users who viewed the web page, email, or ad.
  • Conversion rate: What percentage of your leads are following through and making a purchase? 
  • Time to conversion: How long does it take your buyers to make a purchase after first discovering your business?
  • Cost per lead: The less it costs your marketing team to develop a lead, the greater your return on investment if you close a sale. 
  • Leads per channel: Great for determining which channels are generating the most leads, which gives you more information on your customers’ preferences. 
  • Month to date success: If you set lead generation targets across channels, this data helps compare your results to your goals. 
  • Return on Investment: Lead generation and conversion is important, but the real bottom line lies in how much revenue your marketing campaigns generate. 

Lead Scoring

The best way for companies to gauge the quality of their leads is by developing their own in-house criteria. Lead scoring is a points system that sales and marketing teams develop in unison to evaluate how interested a lead is in their business, as well as how qualified they are to make a purchase. Marketing teams find the qualified leads and nurture interest. After that, the sales teams follow up as soon as they can to try to convert the sale.

lead scoring

The exact points rubric will vary across companies, but the aim is to develop a numerical system to pluck out the best-performing leads. 

According to an Eloqua study of 10 B2B companies that adopted lead scoring systems, deal close rates rose by 30% and company revenue increased by 18%.

Lead Mapping

Lead mapping is a similar method for measuring lead quality. But instead of assigning numerical values, this process isolates which stage a lead is at in the sales journey. For example, if you’ve reached out to a potential customer but haven’t heard anything back, you can flag the lead as an “inquiry.” 

Once a marketing team realizes a lead is both qualified and interested, the sales team can bump the designation up to a “sales engaged lead.” In this strategy, leads ideally move all the way up the ladder into the “customer” designation.

3 Tips for Improving the Quality of Your Leads

Determining the quality of your leads helps you improve them. And here are a few tips to make your leads even better:

Integrate Sales and Marketing Teams

Sales and marketing teams often work independently of one another. But they need to be on the same page for better leads. If the two parties are in perfect agreement on who their target customer is, marketing efforts can discern the promising leads from the duds, and then hand the good ones off to salespeople to convert purchases. 

It helps if marketing and sales agree on what constitutes a sales-qualified lead (SQL). This way, neither side wastes time on leads that likely won’t pan out. 

Marketing and sales should also be in constant communication about lead quality in order to review and adapt their criteria. It may be wise to create a single workflow that lets both teams track leads and share information with each other, and ensure they each have access to the same CRM. 

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of finding qualified prospects and cultivating a relationship with them, even if they don’t buy right away. It’s important because the vast majority (96%) of qualified leads aren’t ready to buy anything when first coming into contact with a business. By patiently working with potential customers on their own terms, you’re likely to upgrade mediocre leads into good ones, boosting your chance at a conversion. 

After all, according to a study, companies that prioritize lead nurturing make 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost

stages of lead nurturing

Use Software

If all this talk about scoring and nurturing your leads sounds like a ton of work, that’s because… it is. At least it is if you don’t use marketing automation software. Such technology streamlines the process and makes it possible to account for every lead in your sales funnel. It also gauges how well your marketing strategy impacts lead generation, sales, and revenue, all while targeting customers who are most relevant to you. Most of the top-performing B2B companies use some form of automation software.  

Choosing the Right Lead Generation Tools

If your lead generation consists of nothing but fruitless first impressions, you’re not targeting the right customers. You need quality leads to close sales, which can only be obtained when you have access to every piece of customer information you can muster. The best way to get this data: using a lead generation tool

These tools, found online, identify qualified leads for you and deliver hard-to-find profiling details that make it easier to nurture new leads with customized content. If you pair automated lead generation software with automated marketing software, you can easily pick out your best prospects and bolster your chance of conversion. 

Datanyze, for instance, is a B2B service that helps you find and connect with high-quality leads. Our free Chrome extension supplies contact and company information for any potential client on LinkedIn, with one click. It works on company websites, too.

You can’t gauge the value of your lead generation without the right information. To learn more about the quality of your leads, sign up for Datanyze today for a free 90-day trial.