How You Talk To Qualified Leads Might Be The Difference Between Hitting And Missing Goals
If you’ve been following our blog, you know we’ve leaned into the idea that today’s revenue generation is all about aligning marketing and sales to produce a remarkable buyer experience for your prospects.
We’ve seen so much data supporting this position that we’ve seen a remarkable buyer experience outperform an unremarkable experience by five times.
Yes, you’ll get five times the leads if you make your marketing and sales experience remarkable for your prospects. Five leads turn into 25 leads, 25 leads turn into 125 leads and 100 leads turn into 500 leads a month.
Don’t get too excited. Building this experience is not easy, and most companies fail at it on their own.
How you manage your leads and how you nurture your leads is a great place to start building out your remarkable experience.
What Is Lead Management?
Marketo defines lead management as “the process by which marketing acquires, evaluates, nurtures and hands off leads to sales.”
The challenge arises because most companies have no systems in place for systematically managing leads and weeding out genuine buyers from people just looking for info.
The result (and perhaps you see this at your company) is sales teams see low-quality leads coming from marketing and then waste a significant amount of time chasing down unqualified leads.
According to Gleanster Research, only 25% of the leads added to the pipeline are legitimate prospects.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
HubSpot defines lead nurturing as “the purposeful process of engaging a defined group of prospects by providing them relevant information at each stage of the buyer journey.”
Your goal is to create the tactics that actively move prospects through each stage of the buyer journey to the point where they become paying customers. For some additional details on lead-nurturing campaigns, check out this Square 2 Marketing blog article on lead nurturing.
Lead management and lead nurturing require strategy but rarely get the strategy attention they deserve. First, use attribution information like content downloaded and pages visited to try and model what stage in the buyer journey your new lead is actively working in.
Then, provide additional content, offers and invitations to move them to the next stage. If they are in the Education Stage, you want them moving to the Consideration Stage. If they are in the Consideration Stage, you want them moving to the Evaluation Stage. You get it.
In addition to the right offers, you also have to personalize the nurture emails and create highly compelling messages for those emails. In most cases, those messages have to be strong enough and disruptive enough to get people to act, and even that action has to be strategically designed.
Asking a prospect to schedule a call before they’re ready is a recipe for low conversion rates. But inviting them to a webinar or inviting them to download a sneak peek copy of a new e-book might be exactly what they want.
Defining The Perfect Lead
Before we start designing nurtures, experiences, offers and messages, we have to define what a perfect lead is, and that definition has to be different at each stage of the buyer journey.
While the demographic, psychographic and even some of the behavioral modeling will be consistent across the entire experience, the definition of “perfect” might change.
Ask any VP of sales or sales rep what the perfect lead is and they’re going to say, “Someone who is ready to buy today.” Yeah, OK…but let’s get serious. That’s only 10% (at best) of your total number of leads.
There must be perfect leads in the remaining 90%. The perfect lead could be defined by the size of company (bigger is usually better). But of course, there are big companies that you would rather not do business with, I’m sure. You could say the same for certain industries. For highly verticalized companies, that makes total sense.
You could identify perfect as having a certain title, like the VP of marketing or CMO, in our case. But wouldn’t the VP of sales or the CEO be just as good? Of course. You see where I’m going with this. Perfect can be tricky.
Let’s get smarter. Perfect might be the person who has an active purchasing cycle or budget, or their project is the company’s top priority. Wouldn’t that make them a perfect prospect? What if they purchased from you before or already decided to leave your top competitor? That also makes them perfect, right?
You can see the challenges with creating one definition. But you need to do it. What you don’t need is to define the one perfect customer. Instead, define a range and give that range a score. This is the baseline for lead scoring.
Use a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best of the best. This is someone who is ready to buy today, works at the right-sized business, and has the ideal budget, job title, pain, etc. — you get the idea. And then 1 represents someone with some potential. They might have only one or two of the boxes checked, but the opportunity to check the other boxes is high.
Giving prospects a score is not the end game; it’s just the start. What a lead score really does for you is allow you to create lead nurturing, offers and experiences for leads based on that score.
For example, all leads scored as a 10 go right to your sales team, and perhaps they also get executive sponsorship. Leads scored as a one, two or three get an email nurture, while leads scored as a four, five or six get special invite offers. All leads scored as a seven, eight, nine or 10 get a full-court diagnostic in an attempt to create proposals and close them in less than 30 days.
The big benefit to lead scoring is putting your limited sales resources on the best opportunities and leaving other prospects to be nurtured through marketing automation and campaign tactics until they score higher based on their actions.
Automated Lead Nurturing With Content
We talked a little about content already, but it needs much more attention. It’s one of the keys to successful lead nurturing.
In this section, we’re talking about automating the delivery of content with automated lead-nurturing campaigns that you can set up, manage, run and track in most marketing automation and CRM platforms.
The key is making the experience as personal as possible. Delivering content based on titles, stages in the buyer journey, previous behavior, industry or even the pain they’ve identified makes the experience richer and more effective.
All of this can be done in an automated way, if you simply plan each of these scenarios correctly. One warning: Don’t make your lead-nurturing campaigns too long. Even for long sales cycles, consider keeping them short but providing the opportunity to keep the conversation going based on their actions.
In essence, they would continue to opt into additional nurturing based on their actions. We like to keep nurture campaigns to three emails, in most cases.
Also, don’t get too aggressive (such as sending three emails in three days, for example). It’s going to feel salesy. Instead, give your prospect some time to breath. We like to give them at least a day or two between emails, and in some cases (when the pain is not so acute), three days between emails.
Sales Lead Nurturing With Content
If you do a good job, eventually (typically around the Evaluation Stage) your prospect is going to move from marketing to sales. They’re going to ask to speak to a salesperson. Nurture has to continue, but sales has to handle it from here on out.
Sales is going to want to handle it the same way, with the same methodology as marketing. Sales should provide guidance, education and help. Avoid using product sheets, company overviews or features and benefits. Instead, use how-to guides, selection criteria and tip sheets to help them make a safe, smart purchase decision.
One of the most important ways to nurture in the sales process is by listening and providing content in context to your prospect’s concerns.
Selling software? When they ask about the implementation timeline, give them a documented implementation process with success stories from clients who had their software installed in less than the time promised.
Selling consulting services? When they ask who they’ll be working with, give them a video of their consultant, sharing their background, experiences and a few of the clients they’re actively working with (plus some of their results).
Speaking of remarkable sales processes and highly effective lead-nurturing tactics, video has to be high on the list. Some people don’t want to read. In fact, most people identify as visual learners, so providing short videos is going to be highly effective.
The video we described above is designed to help the prospect feel comfortable around who they might be working with, and it’s easy to implement. Today, videos are shot on laptops, stored centrally on cloud servers and deployed as part of the sales process through the CRM. You can track every view and click to see exactly which prospects move and close after watching a video.
It’s 100% measurable, trackable and quantifiable. If they work, you keep using them. If they don’t, you replace those videos with some new videos. Keep working it until you get the conversion rates and close rates you need to hit your goals.
Every aspect of sales and marketing is more complex than ever before. Lead management and lead nurturing are no different. But with strategy, the right tactics, key performance indicators and technology, you can manage your leads and nurture your leads to produce higher close rates, shorter sales cycles and more revenue attainment than ever before.
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