Updated April, 2020

In a mature B2B sales operation, Marketing and Sales have to communicate with each other. Part of that communication is to invent an internal language specifically designed to identify the treatment of prospects and leads and where they came from. Most sales structures I’ve worked in or been exposed to keep track of the leads that funnel into the business with the following language:

  • MQLMarketing Qualified Lead: Loosely categorized as any lead that comes in from the various sources mentioned above.
  • SALSales Accepted Lead: A lead that fits the profile of the ideal type of client (i.e., these guys could use our product).
  • SQL – Sales Qualified Lead: Sales has discovered that the lead has a need and budget for a purchase.
  • SQOSales Qualified Opportunity: Sales has moved this “lead” and converted it into an opportunity.

What about the Dead Leads?

Often times, a lead just sits there, dying a slow, painful death. Maybe they weren’t ready to make a decision or your buyer got laid off. Maybe they gave your sales rep the cold shoulder or they seemed interested after the first call but then ghosted you. Sometimes you lose the deal to a competitor. Whatever the reason, you are classifying them as “dead”.  Well, unlike Rick and the crew from The Walking Dead, you have the ability to bring those “dead” leads back to life.

Walking Dead Zombie

(Image source: New York Times)

We decided we really needed a name for these seemingly “dead” leads because they already had exposure to us. Their business was a fit (or they would’ve been disqualified). And for some reason the lead never converted. We wanted to take another shot at them with drip content campaigns, #socialselling activity and a coordinated outreach effort to bring them back to life. The “ZQL” was born (Zombie Qualified Lead)!

Our “ZQL” process has produced significant fruit. When a lead has been sitting for too long or we’ve qualified them as “Dead no decision” they are immediately recycled into “ZQL” status and we start over with them.  Sometimes you might consider retargeting at the same account but with a different buyer.

There is no better time to revisit your ZQL’s than right now. It’s difficult reaching out to cold prospects who are likely already hesitant to part with their dollars,  as the uncertainty of the market continues to plague us all. Bu you can’t  assume that no one is purchasing anything at this time – business must continue. So why not go back to ZQL’s that already have some knowledge of you? The sales cycle could be much shorter, with a fast path to revenue.

Real ZQL Use Case: Let’s talk about how this can work in a real-world example. We had been calling on a Fortune 500 brand for over 1 year. After significant effort and investment, we proceeded to proposal stage with a Jr. level buyer who unfortunately had little influence. This buyer had very little ability to attain budget for the purchase and we couldn’t get access to the real decision-makers. The deal was eventually ZQL’d because it became clear that this was a dead end.

The ZQL lead was eventually recycled to an inside sales rep. The sales rep added it to a list of prospects who were already educated on our offer, but the pursuit of account required us to find a new buyer…retargeting commenced! Along with adding this account into a coordinated and specific outreach approach (including calling and email), we used LinkedIn and Twitter to identify a new “sponsor”. Our rep used social listening and research on LinkedIn and Twitter to follow this individual and an engagement strategy was started, ultimately leading to a new conversation. The prospect was re-qualified into the funnel and a deal closed 2 months later.

This strategy is not a one-off occurrence. It is possible to utilize this method very often and when done correctly the ZQL list can be brought back to life. We’ve also proven that going beyond the standard marketing “drip campaign”, re-engaging accounts and adding social listening and engagement actions can yield better results.

If you are struggling to connect with your leads – new or old  – our proven approach, called Staccato, helps you navigate through target accounts to identify and engage the right key players. Get in touch and we can share more

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.