The most effective way to market your business and dedicate resources to closing sales is to work from a base of qualified leads. One definition of a qualified lead is, “A potential customer who has expressed interest in a product or service and meets general buying criteria.”
Qualified leads can be the success factor in an online business. Qualified leads are so critically important that some part of the mission statement for an internet business should address your commitment to cultivating qualified leads: “XYZ company is all about helping people find the goods and services they need.”
A qualified lead is a potential customer who has specifically requested information about your product or service. This is someone who has found you, either through organic or paid search, and who has indicated, through a click or a response form, that, yes, they are interested in what they have found on your Web site.
A qualified lead must also have the financial ability to purchase your product. For example, someone might request forty luxury yacht catalogs. Even though they are requesting information, if they do not have the resources to purchase a yacht, they are not qualified. For many products or services, the process of further qualifying a lead involves research, reference checks and personal interaction.
Even for non-monetary transactions, like the request of a catalog or product literature, leads should be reviewed. Delete obvious errors and spam requests. The goal is to refine your leads to those that are earnest and truly qualified.
A qualified lead has already opened the door for you. They have requested information. The more specific that request can be, the more highly qualified the lead.
For example, you sell a variety of sports shoes, and your Web site gets good traffic, including responses to a “Mail the Shoe Catalog” button. Your shopper enters their information, and is now a qualified lead. If you offer additional options as they enter their information, for example allowing the shopper to request specific information by checking “Volleyball Shoes,” this shopper becomes an even more highly qualified lead.
The test of your marketing savvy is how you respond to your qualified leads. For the volleyball shoe shopper, send all of your court shoe information, your volleyball catalog, and email a volleyball specific sales offer. This lead is many, many times more likely to convert to a sale – probably of volleyball shoes - than an unqualified lead.
Work your qualified leads, target your marketing efforts more directly, and focus your efforts on growing your business following the path of least resistance: sell to the people who express interest in your product.