To make sure you don’t lose your best B2B lead generation efforts when you hand them over to sales, you need to start by clearly defining what a good lead is. Both sales and marketing should agree on this definition. Then you’ll need to set up processes and standards for lead nurturing, communication between sales and marketing and lead scoring.
Define a Good Lead
Leads become lost because sales and marketing people have not defined what a good lead is or clearly identified who is responsible for lead nurturing.
Sales people would, of course, like marketing to fuel their sales funnel with ready-to-buy leads. They want to make a presentation, negotiate the price, and close the deal! And they expect marketing to give them leads that enable them to do just that.
Marketing, on the other hand, focuses on generating leads and think their job is done once they’ve entered the lead into the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system.
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There are actually two definitions of a good lead:
- If someone may be willing and able to buy at some time in the future, it is a good marketing lead.
- When a decision maker is ready to buy in a set timeframe, they have the budget and the needs have been determined, it becomes a good sales lead.
Nurture Your Marketing Leads
Good marketing leads need to be nurtured so that when they are ready to buy, they are more likely to turn to your company than a competitor. Just because they are not sales-ready the day you receive them, it doesn’t mean they are less valuable than leads that are ready to buy now.
In fact, they may be more valuable.
That’s because you have a powerful opportunity to be with the prospects from very early in their evaluation process. You can work side-by-side with them all the way through the buying-cycle, building trust and a valuable connection for future collaboration. And research shows that customers gained through a nurturing relationship will not only buy more, but will remain loyal customers for longer.
Therefore, staying in touch with prospects with a personalized nurturing campaign can significantly increase the number of leads that eventually transform into sales. Nurturing requires going beyond mass emails to campaigns that add the human touch, for example, by making a phone call every so often to see if you can be of any assistance and also reaching out to prospects to invite them to in-person events.
The human touch is crucial to understanding your prospects’ needs and in helping them through the buying process. Depending on your average sales cycle duration, this means you may need to make a phone call every three months or so.
Because you’re talking with prospects, you’ll be able to tailor your email nurturing and send highly relevant information. Providing customized content is critical as there is a real risk of spamming your prospects with the wrong information, which will do more harm than good to your relationship. You should also regularly check email open rates and the click-through rates to establish which content is generating interest.
Communicate Between Sales and Marketing
Communication between Sales and Marketing is important during the lead nurturing phase. For example, if marketing leaders are not aware that a sales person is in contact with that client, they will continue to treat them as a new prospect and send general marketing campaigns. In this scenario, content may not address issues they’ve discussed with a salesperson, and this can be disturbing for the client.
You also may have a lead from a company that Sales has been trying really hard to get into. This information can help sales get through the door.
Score Your Leads
It’s essential to use your CRM and marketing automation system to score leads in order to understand a prospects’ readiness and when it’s the right moment to add the human touch to qualify the lead before passing it onto sales. But the key is to keep lead scoring simple because the more complex your lead scoring system is, the more difficult it becomes to manage and the ability to optimize the processes is reduced.
For more information download our FREE e-book: “Bridge the Divide Between Sales and Marketing.”