The Almost Qualified Lead (“AQL”) is the latest innovation to come out of the Panaya marketing team. I hope the story of the birth of this new B2B best practice will inspire other high tech companies to continue to innovate.
Beating the Summertime B2B Blues
Those of us who work in B2B marketing dread the first of July. On one hand, we are planning our summer vacations and well deserved time off. On the other, July 1st is the official end of the business season. July and August are the most challenging months of the year for many companies.
We (“the Panaya marketing team”) had a meeting at the end of July. Our then current number of qualified leads didn’t look good. We were far from our goal and August wasn’t going to be of much help.
Meet the Almost Qualified Lead
Mati Cohen, our CTO, asked us, “What else can we do to meet our goals?”
“What about our almost qualified leads,” I blurted out without thinking.
“What do you mean?”
Like a politician answering a tough question, I reasoned that every leads database must have a percentage of leads that are “almost qualified”. These are the leads that are “one click away from the finish line.” They need to do one more activity and we can pass them onto sales.
The almost qualified lead was born.
Two Types of Almost Qualified Leads
The Panaya marketing automation team discovered that there were two types of almost qualified leads:
- Almost qualified leads who we could qualify on a technicality.
- Almost qualified leads who required the chance to cross the finish line.
Going through your leads database is like searching behind your couch at home. I will always find old guitar picks when I give my couch its centennial cleaning. The same goes for your leads database. You will always find leads who can be qualified based on your updated qualification standards.
The second group are those who cannot be automatically qualified. For these, we are running an ongoing campaign to get that last click out of them.
The Customer’s Interest in Almost Qualified Leads
If you are a potential Panaya customer, what is your interest in our paying attention to you as an almost qualified lead?
I invest a lot of time researching the gadgets that I buy. Before I bought my new pair of Bose Quietcomfort 20 noise cancelling earbuds, I spent hours reading dozens of reviews and news articles about them. Before shelling out $300 on earbuds, I wanted to make sure I was paying for quality.
At a drip pace, I saw ads that tried to sell me Bose earbuds, headphones and those of other companies. I clicked on many of them and learned even more. I was an “almost qualified lead”. Finally, I was one article away from the big decision – to fork over 3 Benjamin Franklins for a pair of earbuds.
I read that last article and went from almost qualified lead to qualified lead. The next day, I was at Best Buy. Looking back, it was worth it. Bose’s retargeting campaign kept me thinking about their product. I read about the competition and learned that no one does noise cancellation like Bose. Their focus on me did both sides a favor.
Panaya offers an incredible service in a complex domain. Whereas Bose noise cancelling earbuds remove noise, Panaya removes the noise – and risk – of ERP changes.
Our new almost qualified leads campaigns allow us to focus on educating our soon-to-be customers and give them those last pieces of quality content that they need in order to pick up the phone.