Updated on January 5, 2023
One of the biggest challenges sales teams face, is how to effectively manage their existing leads while maintaining a steady flow of new leads. As no two leads are the same or represent the same opportunity, sales reps need to also prioritize their leads and focus their efforts. During the sales process, as your sales team nurtures your leads towards a sale, it is normal for some leads to drop off due to losing interest or just not being the right fit. Using lead buckets, however, helps your sales reps focus on quality leads instead of their quantity.
The lead buckets strategy
The lead buckets strategy was originally introduced as a prospecting strategy in a book by Rex Biberston and Ryan Reisert, the “Outbound Sales, no fluff“.
It allows you to segment different types of leads in a matter of putting them in 4 lead buckets. It is a reliable method of qualifying your leads and keeping your sales funnel flowing. For instance, some leads present more value than others because they align with your Ideal Customer Profile better and are ready to buy. This usually means they have a problem that they need to solve and can actively benefit from your solution. Here are three simple lead types to remember:
- Cold leads – These are the leads you haven’t contacted yet and are not aware of the product or service you’re offering.
- Warm leads – These leads have been qualified by your marketing and sales teams and you have already established some sort of engagement with them and they are quite possibly interested in your product or service.
- Disqualified leads – Naturally, you don’t want your sales rep going after these leads as they are not your desired customers, by not being a good fit for what you have to offer.
The lead bucket strategy aims to organize and segment your cold and warm leads, so your sales team is not wasting time going after the leads that are not your target market.
A key part of every lead conversion process is lead nurturing. It represents the transfer of your leads from bucket to bucket via continued engagement and contact. As each lead bucket requires different types of engagement and follow-up, allocating resources to the proper channels of outreach is vital to move the leads from bucket to bucket until the final stage of sales.
Having the right business contact data
Another crucial step of effectively using the lead buckets strategy is having the right contact data and company information available, especially for the leads going into the first lead bucket.
Sales teams often struggle with finding valid emails and phone numbers, as well as not having up-to-date information on their leads and spending time verifying emails and researching leads. Having a reliable tech stack in place and providing them with the sales tools they need such as Sales.Rocks, you are able to reduce friction between the different sales stages and also enable your sales reps to be more effective.
Bonus tip: Your CRM is vital for maintaining valid lead information and keeping track of how far along your leads are from closing the deal. Knowing which leads close the fasted also tells your sales reps how to improve their selling skill and what type of leads to focus on in the future.
Using lead buckets to segment your leads
Lead buckets are an organized and efficient way to manage your lead flow and optimize your lead conversion process, by segmenting and prioritizing your leads.
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4 Types of lead buckets
There are 4 types of lead buckets you can use to segment your leads in an effective and structured manner. This way your sales reps know where to focus their effort and time.
- Lead bucket 1 – Uncontacted
- Lead bucket 2 – Working
- Lead bucket 3 – Priority
- Lead bucket 4 – Scheduled
Lead bucket 1 – Uncontacted
In the first lead bucket, goes every relevant qualified lead that is aligned with your ICP, but at this stage, they’re not yet contacted or engaged. You can do additional last-minute information research that can help you present your value proposition better and improve the initial outreach.
Be sure to double-check your qualified leads for any leads that are a bad fit. Then when you’re satisfied with the quality of your lead lists, prepare your outreach sequences and decide which channels you’ll use to contact your leads. Whether you’ll focus on email outreach or a combination of email, social media, and calling.
Having accurate data plays a vital role at this stage. Verify your leads and their contact information to lower the chance of spending resources, time, and effort chasing after the wrong leads.
Bonus tip: A B2B database and a multichannel outreach platform are the perfect tools for finding new leads and lead contact information as well as enriching your existing lead list with additional valuable data.
Main goals: Set up outreach sequences, perform additional research and provide value in the first moments of contact. Then try to move them to Bucket 2 – Working and get a reply on your outreach through any of the channels.
Lead bucket 2 – Working
The leads in the second bucket have been thoroughly researched and have been contacted at least once. However, although the leads have been previously verified and engaged, your sales reps haven’t heard back from them yet.
It is important to continue with the outreach and keep engaging the leads in this bucket through the select channels. This lead bucket should always have a certain number of leads so that your sales reps don’t waste time and continue to engage existing leads while keeping new leads flowing in.
Bonus tip: Landing pages and hyper-personalization are important for delivering tailored contact to your leads as well as finding out more information about their company for other decision-makers or sales triggers.
Main goal: Maintain regular engagement, monitor the effectiveness of different channels, for example, if your leads reply more via email, focus on that channel. Work on scheduling a discovery call with the lead, to narrow down their pain points and elaborate on the benefits of your product for their specific use case.
Lead bucket 3 – Priority
If a lead has positively responded to your outreach, has shown interest in your product, or has engaged with your content they go into lead bucket 3. For example, an inbound marketing lead can leave contact information on a lead form. Moreover, in this bucket, you can also add leads that you’ve had previous contact with, but haven’t closed the deal for some reason.
There are several types of potentially lost opportunities here, by getting an out-of-office reply, them not being interested at that time, or asking to be contacted again at a later date. Even leads that were previously interested but they have changed their mind or simply weren’t able to close the deal due to having budgetary constraints.
This presents the perfect opportunity for reengagement campaigns via cold email. Typically, sales reps heavily engage leads during this stage via drip campaigns or have even gone through the first call with them, but haven’t yet booked a meeting.
Bonus tip: Continue with the outreach through key engagement channels to build up your relationship with your leads.
Main goal: The goal is to actively continue engaging these leads until you book another call with them, preferably a demo call or another discovery call.
Lead bucket 4 – Scheduled
The last lead bucket is arguable the most important. This bucket contains all the leads that you have scheduled a meeting with as it consists of all your upcoming appointments.
It is vital to follow up with leads you have scheduled a meeting with and confirm their presence. Send them a quick email remainder or give them a call, to ensure they don’t forget. Having a booking app makes the booking process a lot easier for your leads to schedule a meeting with you.
Sometimes however a lead may ghost you and not show up at the appointed time slot. You can take steps to prevent leads from ghosting you. Ultimately if they don’t show up, move them back into the previous bucket.
Bonus tip: Arrange the meeting with your lead at least a week in advance, then follow up with them a day before the call and remind them a couple of hours as well to make sure they show.
Main goal: Ensure that the meeting happens so you can close the deal. In case they don’t show up, move them back to Bucket 3.
Managing your lead buckets
Properly prioritizing your leads is necessary for the lead buckets strategy to work. Focus your sales rep on leads representing the highest value for your company first, starting with the last bucket, lead bucket 4. This way your sales team takes care of engaging leads with the most impact on your business.
Lead buckets help to simplify the sales process, helping your sales team to become more effective and efficient at reaching out to the right leads, converting them faster, and selling better. By using lead buckets you gain more control over your sales pipeline and can improve areas of friction when transferring leads between buckets a lot easier and much faster.
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