Every business experiences the same challenges when it comes to generating leads online. There just doesn’t seem to be enough leads and some of the leads that do come through are either not relevant or are not ready to buy.  According to HubSpot, only 50% of leads are qualified but not ready to buy.

So what do you do?

In this post I hope to explain how your business can generate a steady amount of qualified, sales ready leads through your website with inbound marketing. Did you know that 41% of marketers say inbound marketing produced measurable ROI in 2013?

Inbound marketing has seen success for hundreds of businesses in all industry sectors.

Building the sales engine

Before I talk about how we turn visitors into customers, let’s first discuss your sales engine. The sales engine is basically the framework of your sales process.

This engine is built up of helpful premium content that your prospects will receive in exchange for some basic information, this would usually be just their name and email address.

You will need to put email marketing in place to nurture your leads and also marketing automation to implement it all and track the ROI.

The sales engine is an essential part of inbound marketing, or any marketing for that matter, as when we add the fuel (blog content, PPC, email marketing, social media, search engine traffic etc.) your website is structured to turn these visitors into customers.

Information Qualified

The first job of inbound is to attract the right kind of visitors to your website. You do this by creating content that answers the most common questions asked by your customers.

Speak to your sales teams and listen to your current customers and see what questions you answer every day, this will be the basis of your content ideas.

When a visitor comes to your website they are a stranger and you have no idea who they are or what challenges they face. So the first job of inbound is to turn that stranger into a lead. However not every lead is made equal as I’m sure your sales team will tell you.

The kind of content that you would use at this stage is your blog content and your premium top of the funnel content. Once the visitor becomes a lead we call these leads information qualified as they have requested more information but have not yet given permission to be marketed to.

There will be a time for you to introduce your unique positioning but for now this is not it.

Now that the lead is known to you they can be entered into a workflow to push them through to the next qualifying stage. You may know this process as lead nurturing. You can do this by sending timely emails that answer the most common questions asked when they buy your product.

I’m sure you already know these questions, e.g. How much do you cost? Does it come with a guarantee? How long does it take to work?

By understanding your buyer personas questions you can use email marketing to send emails that answer these questions and this will help you to move them through the sales funnel. In each email you will also promote another offer that introduces your unique positioning.

This may be a document that talks about what it’s like to do business with you and how you solve your customers’ problems.

Once they download your middle of the sales funnel offer they are a marketing qualified lead as they have now shown interest in you and your services.

How a stranger becomes an information qualified leadinformation-qualified

Marketing Qualified

Now that the lead is known, your lead nurturing workflows can begin. Email marketing will play a large part in moving your information qualified lead into marketing qualified. This is not an opportunity for you to spam your lead with emails as this will quickly have them reaching for the unsubscribe button.

The lead still hasn’t given you permission to market to them but this is the time to introduce your branded content and introduce your positioning. Typically you need to send out timely emails usually every 5 days or so.

The emails you send, need to answer your common sales question when a prospect comes to you looking to use your services or buy your products.

What are the three most common questions you get asked? One perhaps may be what kind of results can I expect? You would need to answer this is your email or even better link to an article you have written on this subject.

The email would also contain a link to your marketing qualified offer. Which would talk about your unique positioning in your field and what it is like to work with you.

You will send around three emails, each of which will answer a different question. In the content that answers these questions you will include calls to actions which promote your marketing qualified offer.

How an information qualified lead becomes marketing qualified

Step 1: The lead is sent an email addressing some of the most common sales questions

Step 2: The lead becomes interested in your branded marketing qualified offer and clicks the call to action that takes them to the landing page

Step 4: The lead fills out the form on the landing page to download your branded content

Step 5: Becomes a Marketing qualified lead


Sales Qualified

The lead has now shown an interest in your company and has downloaded your marketing qualified content. This is great as they have now shown an interest in you and are considering you as the company that can help them. All they need now is to be satisfied that you are the right company for them.

This is where typically you start to hear pushbacks to why people say no. Think of the reasons why they say no, maybe they think your company is too small or your product or service costs too much.

Just like the workflow you created for the information qualified leads we now need to create one for the marketing qualified leads but this time we talk about how you can satisfy their pushbacks.

The way you address your leads pushbacks are with things like case studies, find or create a case study that matches and solves their pushbacks so they feel at ease about their concerns. Show them real life examples of how you overcame their pushback and had success for the client.

Included in your emails and case studies are calls to actions for your sales qualified offer. This offer may be a free demo, consultation or quote. Once the lead requests your sales qualified lead you then need to reach out to these people and start to build the real human relationship.

How a marketing qualified lead becomes sales qualified

Step 1: Your leads are sent timely emails that address their pushback and reason for saying no

Step 2: Your leads read these case studies and emails and understand that you are the solution to their problem

Step 3: Your leads clicks on the call to actions in the emails and case studies and request information from sales

Step 4: Your leads are now sales qualified


At this stage you may be asking yourself, what happens to the people who don’t move through your sales funnel and get stuck? This is a great question.

What you can do with the information qualified leads that don’t move down your funnel, send them a monthly email updating them with the new content on your blog. In the case of the marketing qualified leads, as they are interested in your company send out your monthly newsletter to them.

This way you are giving people who may not have been ready another chance to re-engage with you.


Before you start your next marketing campaign perhaps you should think about getting your sales engine set up on your website so you have everything in place to convert the traffic your next marketing campaign will send otherwise your marketing budget could go largely to waste.

Now it’s your turn

What are your biggest challenges you face when turning your website visitors into customers? Please let us know in the comments below or if you have any questions I would be more than happy to answer them.

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