How to Marketing Qualify Your Manufacturing Leads

Whether your manufacturing digital leads are feast or famine, how do you know which leads are a good fit? How is the sales team determining which leads they should talk to and which ones are in need of nurturing by marketing because they are aren’t quite sales-ready? In other terms, how are they being qualified? If you find yourself asking these questions, you might need some help determining a marketing qualified lead. 

Often referred to as an MQL, a marketing qualified lead is a lead that is considered more likely to become a customer compared to other leads. These leads have shown an interest in buying. They are open to the idea of a sale and have engaged with you and your business by taking some sort of action. Marketing efforts are typically what bring the leads in, but it’s what the lead does next that prompts them to become an MQL. 

qualify manufacturing leads

Define Your MQL Criteria  

Before you can begin to qualify your manufacturing leads, sales and marketing need to come together and not only define what an MQL is but agree on that definition. What are the characteristics and engagements that make up a good lead for you and your sales team? At Lake One, we lovingly refer to this as your lead fit to win criteria. It includes both lead requirements and lead engagements.

Related Reading: Lead Generation for Manufacturers: 9 Strategies to Crush 2020

But okay, where do you start? Here are the top areas for consideration when it comes to defining your MQL criteria.

qualify manufacturing leads

Review existing opportunities and customers: Who is your team talking to right now? Which leads have turned into customers and what actions did they take prior to inking a deal? You’ll likely uncover similarities in demographic data, such as industry, geo, company size, or job title, along with similarities in engagement. 

Engagement can be the content offers downloaded, the frequency of web visits or maybe even specific page views. 

Examples of MQL Actions

  • Requests a quote
  • Requests a product catalog
  • Attends a webinar
  • Downloads an ebook
  • Engages with your social
  • Opens a marketing email (or two)
  • Subscribes to your newsletter
  • Visits your website and/or visits key pages
  • Requests more information or asks to be contacted 

Talk to Sales: Find out what a qualified lead means to sales. They are not only key drivers in moving leads from marketing qualified to sales qualified and beyond, they know what they need and are a great resource. For example, is a lead worthless without a phone number? Or does sales need to be connected to a certain role within a company to increase the likelihood of closing a deal? All of these can be factored in as MQL criteria. 

Marketing MQL

Nice to know vs Need to know: Defining MQL criteria is really finding a balance of what is ‘nice to know’ vs what is ‘need to know’. Especially when starting out, we recommend creating opportunities to collect information (like updating form fields and leveraging progressive fields if you have that accessible) while still making the MQL status obtainable by leads. You can always tighten up the fire hose. 

Review. Revise. Repeat: Like with most things in sales and marketing, you can’t just set it and forget it. We recommend revisiting your MQL definition at least on a quarterly basis as a team. If you aren’t seeing the number of MQLs that you anticipated, is it because your criteria is too narrow? Or is it a lead quality issue? MQL criteria is a great place to start.

Once you’ve defined your MQL criteria, you need a way to collect it, track it and communicate it with your sales teams. 

Cue marketing automation.

qualify manufacturing leads

Leveraging Marketing Automation Software

Determining marketing qualified leads for your manufacturing company doesn’t have to be a manual process and in fact, we recommend it’s not. Marketing automation helps with:

  • Data capture at the time of form fill
  • Contact data storage
  • Housing the MQL criteria infrastructure
  • Notifying sales when a lead becomes an MQL
  • Closing the feedback loop

Here are some of our favorite marketing automation tools to get you started.

Out of all that is listed above, we wouldn’t be doing our due diligence if we didn’t discuss the importance of notifying sales and closing the feedback loop. When a lead is hot, it’s hot and sales needs to be notified in real-time and on the contrary, if a lead isn’t so hot, marketing needs to know that too. Marketing automation software helps facilitate communication through notifications and custom properties.

It’s All About Alignment

Marketing qualified leads are really just a piece of the big picture of sales and marketing alignment. If you know anything about Lake One, you know we’re major proponents of alignment and defining what a marketing qualified lead is for your manufacturing company is a critical step to getting both teams on the same page and funneling quality leads to sales.

MarTech Assessment

Lead Generation for Manufacturers: 9 Strategies to Crush 2020

Over the last decade, lead generation for manufacturers and industrial organizations has transformed. While the industry is still heavily relationship-driven, like every other vertical it’s been affected by digital disruption. B2B buyers are empowered with more data then ever and shopping experiences in our consumer lives are informing our expectations in our business lives.

As the modern economy evolves – manufacturers and industrial firms may find themselves wondering how to get more sales opportunities in a quickly changing sales and marketing environment.

If you’re ready to move past the basics of lead generation, these are the manufacturing and industrial lead gen trends we’re seeing drive success as we head into a new decade.

Industrial Lead Generation with Account Based Marketing

Account-based marketing can provide manufacturing and industrial firms a strategic way to market only to the prospects your organization’s value most. It flips the thinking of a funnel. Instead of casting a wide net and working to qualify down to the best opportunity, you identify the accounts you want to work with and target outreach and promotion to reach and influence buyers. Generally, it works as an additive strategy to a diverse sales and marketing program and can run parallel to an inbound effort. It’s also a great way to repurpose and leverage your inbound content in a complementary strategy making sure you maximize your content investment.

industrial lead generation with account based marketing

Centralize Marketing if you Sell Through Distributors

For manufacturers who sell indirectly through distributors, consider centralizing marketing efforts. By creating a coordinated marketing effort, you can provide a digital co-op marketing initiative to your distribution partners. It serves two purposes. First, it provides a central place for potential buyers to go to as they research products. As the manufacturer, you retain brand control. Second, it’s a value add to your distribution channel as you can provide a steady stream of leads. It can also serve as a channel to recruit new distribution partners. Finnleo, a sauna manufacturer with a dealer network distribution channel, is a great example.

manufacturing lead generation with centralized marketing

Leverage Inbound for Manufacturing Lead Generation

Inbound marketing is a great way to drive a steady source of new leads for your manufacturing or industrial firm. Inbound marketing at its core is about creating content that answers your potential buyer’s questions early in their research process. The content is designed to convert prospects along with conversion funnels, maybe you provide a webinar or request a quote. Inbound also serves as a great way to develop your organization’s thought leadership and is extra powerful when combined with industry outreach and PR. Further, inbound aligns well with how engineers want to consume content based on research from Engineering.com When asked about preferred ways to acquire engineering information, a search is the top channel for finding answers to questions. This begs the question: if your engineering buyers have questions, whose content will they find, yours or your competitors?

manufacturing Content

Leverage marketing automation and CRM

A key part of successful lead generation for manufacturers is implementing right sales and marketing tools. Essential to that tech stack is a CRM that your sales team will actually use, with data governance that is meaningful to your business and marketing automation that helps nurture and identify opportunities. Marketing automation in manufacturing is also a powerful tool to help drive efficiency into often manual processes from lead routing and quote management to data governance and lead nurturing.

MarTech Assessment

Activate retargeting

Outside of paid media for account-based marketing and promotion around tradeshows, retargeting is an absolute must. If you’re doing any sort of lead generation program – retargeting is a low-cost way to drive additional conversion opportunities off people who respond to your manufacturing lead generation programs but don’t convert on your website. You’ve already invested a ton to get a prospect to your manufacturing website, if they don’t convert, set aside a small add budget to serve ads to them after their visit to try again.

Monitor social conversations

Depending on what your firm makes, monitoring social media for conversations around needs or trends can be a great way to identify opportunities for direct sales, PR opportunities to talk about your offering or identifying new channel partners. You can monitor conversations in several different ways. Join groups on LinkedIn, set up feeds or lists on Twitter or search on Facebook.

Manufacturing lead generation with social monitoring

Activate paid media around trade shows

Trade shows are still a great gathering place for manufacturing and industrial firms. But following up with people from trade shows can sometimes be a bit – meh. Instead of grabbing everyone’s business cards, leverage your marketing automation tools and let people book real meetings with you. Or set up a nurture sequence for those who stop by the booth.

Activating paid search around the tradeshow name is often a low-cost way to drive traffic to a landing page ahead of the trade show. Here you can promote any giveaways or reasons for people to book time with your team.

Monitor industry news & trends

Similar to monitoring social media, monitoring news alerts can be a great resource on multiple fronts. It can inform you inbound content strategy, support your account-based marketing program or provide opportunistic outreach opportunities for your sales team. The easiest way to do this is to set up Google Alerts or create a Feedly account to monitor terms and topics that matter most to your industry and buyers.

Manufacturing news monitoring

Leverage tools

There is a constant flow of tech tools rolling into the market. Here are a few of our favorite lead generation tools for b2b. Of the tools mentioned in that post, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is probably the most relevant for our friends in manufacturing and industrial organizations. One of the features I find the most useful is the account and lead recommendations. As you interact with and tell Sales Navigator what kind of leads and accounts you’re interested in, it surfaces new contacts and accounts that are similar but might not have been on your account based targeting list. It’s a great way to expand your scope with the accounts you can truly add value to instead of randomly selling to anyone with a pulse.

manufacturing lead generation with LinkedIN