It doesn’t need much emphasizing that reaching customer has never been simpler. However, you might have noticed that casting a wide virtual net and getting high traffic doesn’t always equal high and stable conversion. Today, to get your hands on quality customers, you need to learn how to qualify leads that land on our website without driving people away.
As you cast wide nets over the virtual world, they often bring you more than you bargained for.
Do hours of follow-up and sales efforts without conversion sound familiar?
The truth is, not everyone who lands on your website is going to be the right fit for your company no matter how great your product is. Focusing on such visitors is a waste of money, time, and energy on dead-end leads. Plus, you are also missing out on a potential conversation that could have been had you invested all those resources into high-quality leads.Hence, qualifying customers from the moment they land your site becomes absolutely necessary. Doing so will give you the time and resources to focus on leads that are most likely to convert.
PROBLEM WITH THE SOLUTION:
The lead qualification process often requires asking for information. The bottom line is, unfortunately, people don’t like to give out information. Especially so, if they are not even sure they want your services.
So, how to qualify leads in an experience economy? After all, customers expect pleasant encounters and frictionless processes. Is it possible to take a lead through the qualification framework without annoying/boring or frustrating them?
SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM WITH THE SOLUTION 😄
The good news?
There IS one.
A good one.
But let’s begin, well, at the beginning.
What is a Qualified Lead?
A qualified lead is, essentially, any prospective customer who fits (or is as close as possible to) the company’s “ideal customer” profile in terms of his or her needs, timing, budget, and many other factors.So, before you plunge into building your qualification framework you need to define who is your ideal customer. Depending on your product or service, your ideal customer can be an individual of a certain age or a company of a certain size. Though, the basic defining factors are:
- Demographic information (gender, age, familial/marital status, education, income, occupation)
- Geographical information (country, region, city)
- Psychographics (personality, lifestyle)
- Behavioral data (spending habits, product/service usage, etc)
Besides that, you should also try to establish if the client fitting these criteria is also:
- Aware of having the need/problem
- Aware that your company can help to solve this need/problem
- Actively looking for a solution
- Prepared to pay for the solution
MQL vs SQL
If you dig deeper into the topic, you will come across two types of qualified leads:
- Marketing Qualified Leads- shows some level of interest/commitment; e.g., a person who checks a couple of articles on your blog or engages on social media and comes back for more (to ask a question or download an ebook)
- Sales Qualified Leads - is a potential customer who possibly passed through the stage above and is actively checking your pricing or anything else you assess as common pre-first-purchase behavior.
But, how can qualify these leads without throwing “logs” under their feet?
The Form Fallacy: Why The Most Common Lead Qualification Method Fails
Forms are, by far, one of the most common ways businesses and websites go about qualifying prospects and customers. Data gained through forms are a priceless commodity for accurate lead scoring.
I’m sure you have seen it before when trying to access content:
BUTThe problem with forms is three-fold:
- Too short of form requirements, as in just email and names, isn’t enough to qualify someone. How big is their budget? What is their role in the business? Etc. You have no idea!
- Too long of form requirements and nobody will take the time to fill them out, giving you a notably lower amount of leads.
- Forms don’t provide instant gratification e.g. in giving users the info they need. There’s hardly anything more frustrating than having doubt or a question, searching for the answer and landing on a site with a big wall in shape of a form. Here, fill out this form and we will be in touch.
Today, the world is moving faster, it’s moving through experiences. People expect answers in real time, on demand. The age of messaging made us impatient.Still, a vast majority of businesses fail to speed up their responses, leaving potential customers frustrated.
Just think how hard you work to get people to your website! All that time, money and sweat. Yet, once people are where you want them to be, you raise your hand and say:
Wait, please! Fill out this form and we will be in touch when we have the time.
Letting people wait fatally ruins your chances to convert. In 2011, Harward Review conducted a study auditing 2000 of US companies and their lead response time. Although 37% of business responded within an hour, the average response time amounted 42 hours! Surprising results, taking into account another Harvard Review study has proven that companies that get in touch in less than an hour are 7 times as likely to convert leads.
You would think that times had changed. Not so fast though…In 2017, another survey from a sample of 433 B2B SaaS companies showed that only 7% business responded within 5 minutes of receiving a lead and a staggering 55% took more than 5 days to get in touch!!! Furthermore, the study demonstrated that responding in 10 minutes instead of 5decreased the chances of converting by 400%.
This kind of stats is what turns many marketing teams and sales teams against each other. Naturally, you WANT to respond to all your leads as fast as possible but your sales reps can only handle so much.
You simply can’t afford more people to service the phones or live chat. Still, replying to someone several days after they asked their question is like ignoring a customer that just walked into your store.
So… what CAN you do to make hay while the sun shines without putting more pressure on your budget or your team?
How to Qualify Leads using a Chatbot
Before we dive into the world of conversational marketing and create an actual lead qualifying chatbot, let’s go over what conversational marketing is.
Simply put, conversational marketing treats each customer as their own market. It focuses on driving 1 to 1 conversation with a prospect who answers questions about their goals, attributes, and demographics, helping you to understand their needs and pain points.
Sounds good? Good.
Chatbots are the bread and butter of conversational marketing because they allow you to engage with a potential customer in a natural messaging format, in real-time. Better yet, they allow you to show your brand personality and create a memorable, fun experience.
Below is our own chatbot leveraging conversational experience which we developed to qualify customers. First, the bot asks customer gets asked their name. Though, that is just the beginning. After learning the name, the chatbot asks for other details such as the company they work for or the name of the project for which they want to use Landbot.
Naturally, the nature of the questions will depend on your qualifying needs.Asking questions… hmm… What makes a bot so different from an online form then, you wonder?
The main difference between a form and a chatbot is that as the bot obtains more data, it begins to tailor the conversation to the individual based on their responses.
For instance, imagine a bot on a wedding planner’s site that qualifies leads based on the size of the wedding they wish to organize. A couple who wants to organize a wedding for 50 people will be taken down a different conversation thread than a couple organizing a wedding with 500 attendees. This way, each of the chatbot leads receives appropriate answers and options in real-time.
And, there are plenty more reasons to think of chatbots when creating your lead generation and management strategy.
You are probably wondering how can you be sure that the chatbot provides your leads with correct answers and information.
The secret is to stay away from Natural Language Processing (NLP), AI, and Machine Learning. Instead, work to build a conversational user interface.
Leverage the Simplicity of Creating Conversational Experience
The major issue with NLP and AI chatbots is that they are widely overestimated. When we think of AI, we imagine something of the likes of Terminator or HER.
Truth is, despite many claims, computers are a long journey from understanding natural language. Nobody has figured out how to give a computer common sense yet. And, no matter how smart the AI, without common sense, it’s hard to decode human speech correctly.
Even if you managed to find an NLP AI capable of perfect service, it would be very likely lightyears out of your budget.
But there is a handy, effective workaround - an AI-free conversational user interface.A conversational UI doesn’t need AI to be helpful. Such UI allows the user to interact with the chatbot using elements he or she can see (or hear). This includes the use of buttons and other visual assets to create the conversation. Most likely, you have already interacted with such an interface when you ordered food, called a taxi, or made a flight reservation….Without AI, isn’t this just a form with a different design?Well, that is the point.
Because, ultimately, it IS about the design, the feel, the experience. People naturally gravitate toward engaging experiences that give them a sense of interaction and control over what is being presented to them.
Conversational chatbots make tedious experiences fun, easy and accessible.So, are you ready?
Step 1. Set Your Lead Qualification Parameters
As no architect would build a house without a plan, you shouldn’t build a chatbot without one either.When deciding how to qualify leads, you should pick a framework to lay out and organize your lead qualification questions. First of all, forget about using BANT (budget, authority, need, timeline) structure that focuses on limiting yes-no responses. Here are the two most popular framework options:
If you still want to keep it kind of short but still get complex data, choose CHAMP. It uses similar criteria to BANT. But, rather than just trying to determine if the lead is a good fit or not, it focuses on assessing the best possible way to approach a different kind of leads (while still helping you weed out low-quality leads).
- Challenge (What challenge is your lead facing? In what way can your product/service help?)
- Authority (Who or Who else within the company is involved in the purchase decision?)
- Money (Does your lead have an allocated budget? If not, how does the process involving budgetary decisions work?)
- Prioritization (How urgently is the solution needed? You can ask questions such as “When do you hope to solve this problem?” or “When will you be ready to make a decision?)
The name looks scary but GPCTBA/C&I is the most thorough lead qualification framework, perfect for valuable and complex B2B sales. It’s great at helping you identify the needs of your sales leads in-depth. It stands for:
- Goals (Ask probing questions about your prospect’s goals – goals for both, using your product/service and overall company goals. These questions give you the info you need to explain, with precision, how your business or tool can help the prospect achieve those goals.)
- Plan (Next, find out how your prospect attempted to solve their issue in the past – and how these attempts panned out. Also, an opportunity to emphasize how your solution may work better for the lead.)
- Challenges (Stir the conversation toward the obstacles & challenges your lead has experienced and which have stopped them from achieving their goals. This topic will be brought up further down the conversation.)
- Timeline (Find out whether your lead is ready to buy immediately or if they need time before making the final purchasing decision. This will help you determine if it’s necessary to nurture the lead closely or, perhaps, it’s ok to prioritize others for the time being)
- Budget (This part of the conversation is not just about the prospect’s ability to buy your product/service. Instead, shift the discussion toward the potential ROI the lead should expect to experience once they sign up for your service or buy your product. Instead of the price, focus on comparing the investment necessary to receive mentioned returns.)
- Authority (This is where you learn who are the decision-makers. It will give you a chance to understand and prepare the best possible way to approach them with an offer)
- (Negative) Consequences and (Positive) Implications (As touched upon in the rounds of questions about challenges, draw your prospect’s attention to the things they are to gain by solving their pain point – as well as everything they have to lose if they don’t. Furthermore, bring up all else your lead will be able to achieve once after the problem has been solved which, incidentally, gives you one more opportunity to explain why your solution is most beneficial.)
Step 2. Make a List of your Qualifying Questions
Once you are clear on what kind of framework you will be using, list out the questions for each of the stages that you plan to input into the chatbot.If you are unsure about the type of questions to ask, download our list of common lead-qualifying questions. They are just a starting point you can adjust based on what information is important to your business.
Step 3. Choose Your Chatbot Platform
The market is saturated with chatbot builders of all shapes and sizes. If you are new to this, figuring out which platform is the best for your business can be confusing.
After you weed out the platforms reliant on AI and NLP, there is still a great deal left.
Consider the following factors:
- Technological requirements (E.g, Is coding necessary?)
- Format flexibility (website embedding, Facebook Messenger integration, etc.)
For instance, Landbot allows you to register and try the builder for free in action. You can:
- build a bot from scratch or by editing pre-designed templates
- embed the bot on your website or landing page in various formats (full-page, pop-up, etc)
- Change design to fit your branding.
More importantly, Landbot builder is extremely easy to pick up as it requires NO coding and provides you with a simple drag-and-drop interface. Even integrations with Google Analytics, Google Sheets, MailChimp, and other apps are a matter of a few clicks.
OK, we might be a little biased here but we do believe in Landbot with our heart, soul, and rational mind. After all, we have demonstrated that with Landbot, you can create a functional chatbot in under 25 minutes.
Step 4. Start Building the Conversation
So, you got the framework, you got the questions and you got the platform. Now it’s time to get conversational.
This is a critical step. A step that is hugely underestimated and overlooked by almost everyone.In other words, even if platforms such as Landbot make the practical part of creating a conversational interface easy, you still gotta design the conversation.The most common mistake here is forgetting you are writing a conversation, not a question blast. Hence, the conversational flow will need to include a lot of “unnecessary fluff.”Though, it is precisely this “fluff” that makes conversation a conversation. So:
- Start with “Hi!”
- Personalize ASAP - ask for a name and use it!
- Give your chatbot a personality
- Leverage Gifs, videos, and emojis (they are the gestures and facial expressions of the virtual world)
- Keep messages short and messenger friendly
- Say goodbye when you are done!
If you are interested in a more thorough guide, check out our tutorial on designing and building natural chatbot conversations.
Step 5. From Chatbot to Human Takeover
Did you know you can personalize the qualification experience beyond sending potential leads down different conversation threads based on their answers?
Any question down the funnel can include a variable to trigger a human takeover.
Naturally, as your chatbots “interrogate” your prospect, it collects data qualifying the lead for you. However, it can also give you the advantage of connecting especially interesting leads with your sales team immediately - given the lead “fulfills” the requirements you set as a threshold to initiate such a takeover.For example, your trigger variable can be:
- A mention of an important company in someone's email address (e.g., @appple)
- Size of the company (e.g., any company with 100 employees or more)
- Timing (e.g., the lead indicates an urgent solution)
These are only a few possible options.
The bottom line is, that chatbot will enable you to cater to everyone, qualifying the potential prospects for you while also allowing you to take actions on the hottest leads immediately.All that on top of providing your website visitors with a pleasant and satisfactory experience.
What Questions Should You Ask to Qualify a Lead?
Before you start building your lead scoring bot, you need to carefully consider the questions that will help you in your qualification process.
Here a compilation of lead qualification questions to help you put your list together:
- What problem are you struggling with right now?
- How is this issue impacting your business/everyday life?
- What will you gain from solving this problem?
- How long has the problem been around? What was/is holding you back from fixing it?
- Have you already try to solve this problem before? How did it work out (or not) for you?
- Are you considering buying [your product]? Why or why not?
- How do you see yourself using this product? In what ways could it help you?
- What are the risks involved in fixing your problem? What are the risks of not fixing it?
- Who needs to approve this purchase?
- Who is involved in reviewing our quote/proposal?
- How long it takes to get final approval?
- What is your budget for the solution?
Remember, these questions can be open-ended or, to make answering them faster, provide your leads with options in form of buttons or similar rich UI elements.
Most people and companies wait far too long to qualify and/or respond to sales leads.
Don’t be one of them.
Don’t waste time and effort on leads that will never pan out.Instead, attract traffic and be there to greet your visitors at the doorstep.
Assess their potential.In real-time.
Are you ready?