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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistWed, Jul 22, 2015 9 min read

3 Secret Upgrades To Drive Sales-Ready Leads From Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing BOFU SecretsI’m going to be 100% honest: Everyone involved with inbound marketing wants to generate sales-ready leads. You know what I’m talking about – those perfect prospects who want to buy “right now.”

Every inbound marketing agency wants to get their clients more bottom-of-the-funnel, sales-qualified leads, ones who represent those clients perfect prospects. We want to generate a lot of them, and we want to generate them today.

I also know that every business practicing inbound marketing wants more sales-ready leads from their program. If youre getting two sales-ready leads a month, you want 20. If you’re getting 20, you want 200. Trust me, we get it. The challenge comes in actually knowing how to generate more of this particular type of lead.

Based on our 13 years of inbound experience, as well as an inbound methodology that features “click to close” inbound marketing, here are five upgrades you can make to your inbound program right now to generate more bottom-of-the-funnel, sales-ready leads.

Secret Upgrade #1: Get More Creative With Bottom-Of-The-Funnel Offers

You see them everywhere on the web: Contact Us, Free Consultation,” Free Assessment and the ever-popular Speak With A Representative. These are NOT bottom-of-the-funnel offers, and they won’t deliver sales-ready leads. Neither will Free Demo or Free Trial. 

Bottom-of-the-funnel offers (or, as we refer to them: Direct Business Offers) have to be about your prospect, not about you. Speak With A Rep is all about you. The offers have to be value-oriented and require the appropriate level of commitment on the prospects part. Remember, they havent yet said, “Yes, I want to hire you.” Free demos and free trials are a lot of effort. Very few people are going to sign up for these unless they are already “all in” on your business. Sitting through a demo and using the software in trial mode is too much work.

Instead, make sure you have some creative and educational bottom-of-the-funnel offers. Then, apply them to an ongoing conversion optimization program. Here are a few of our favorites from our own inbound campaigns and some of our client campaigns.

  • Get 30 Blog Ideas In 30 Minutes
  • Find Out Exactly How Many Leads You Need In Just 30 Minutes
  • Get Your Marketing Graded With Our Inbound Grader Report
  • 10 Safety Upgrade Ideas You Can Implement This Afternoon
  • Free Safety Audit Of Your Plant Or Factory – Call To Schedule Today
  • 10 Tax-Saving Tips In 10 Minutes
  • 5 Money-Saving Ideas For Your Fleet Management Practices In Just 30 Minutes
  • Get 3 New Ideas To Make Bus Routing Easier In Just 30 Minutes

You should be able to see that with some creativity and a plan, it’s not hard to turn your “Speak With A Rep” offer into something that is extremely valuable for your prospect. You can make it 100% about them, their pains and their challenges instead of all about you.

Secret Upgrade #2: Apply A More Aggressive Lead Nurturing Effort

Believe it or not, there are companies that use little to no lead nurturing. If you don’t want to buy today, they’re not interested. This is also a major mistake. The more comprehensive, well-thought-out and well-designed you make your lead nurturing effort, the more sales-ready leads you’re going to get.

Here’s an illustration: You get 300 leads a month, and right now, 10% are sales-ready. A well-run lead nurturing campaign can increase that percentage over the next two to three months by a factor of two. You literally double the amount of sales-ready leads just by executing a creative lead nurturing exercise.

This is a tricky number to see improve. You won’t see your general sales-ready lead percentage go up, as that’s attached to all leads across your business. But, you should be looking at the conversion of current leads to sales-ready leads.

This is a less common metric and one that typically gets uncovered when you do a full sales funnel analytics project. It's total inbound leads to first-time phone calls. At Square 2 Marketing, this number is 8%. As more people in the total lead pool start requesting personal conversations, you should see this number increase.

Secret Upgrade #3: Treat ALL Leads Equally

I know it might not look like it on paper, but your top-of-the-funnel leads are also your potential bottom-of-the-funnel leads. So, while it’s easy to blow these off, discount them or say these are insignificant when calculating the value of your inbound effort, that is a huge mistake.

All leads need to be treated as if they’re planning on buying today. If you take this approach to all of your leads, you’re going to see an increase in bottom-of-the-funnel leads. Why? You’re actively migrating unqualified leads through the sales process, and they’re coming out at the bottom as sales-qualified leads. The more you have at the top, the more you’ll have at the bottom.

Across all of our clients, about 10% of leads are sales-ready or sales-qualified leads (SQLs), people who are ready to talk about purchasing today. If you’ve been getting 300 total leads a month, you should expect to get 30 SQLs. If, however, you were getting 600 total leads, you’d be looking at 60 SQLs. But, you need to get to 600 first. Going from 30 SQLs to 60 SQLs with the same traffic is virtually impossible. These two numbers are directly related, so you need to consider this relationship when you’re looking at overall inbound program performance.

Last but not least, you have to understand today’s buyer behavior. People don’t by until their pain becomes acute. You and I have no idea when thats going to happen. In reality, there is very little we can do to actually increase the number of SQLs without increasing the overall visitor volume and other key metrics. We can’t make people want to buy if they’re not ready to buy. No matter how amazing the marketing is, the world just doesn’t work like that.

Even so, we can help move them along. We can tweak their pain and educate them on why starting sooner is better than waiting. We can share more compelling success stories that get people excited and inspired to work with us. We can tell such emotional stories that people want to hire us as soon as they are ready. Do enough of this over time, and you have the Marketing Machine that every business owner, CEO and VP of Marketing dreams about.

Start Today Tip – Take all of your bottom-of-the-funnel offers and give them a face-lift. You have these, right? If you don’t, you need to add them right away, and youll see an immediate lift in sales-ready leads. If you have them and they’re underperforming, you may see a modest lift by upgrading them. Your tip is more about applying this approach than taking the easy way out and simply using “Contact Us.” Make the offers about your prospects, and you’ll be amazed at the results.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.