Timing is vital. You need to follow up with warm and even colder prospects consistently over time. Although they aren’t a priority for sales, there could be a large amount of pipeline at stake if these prospects drop off your radar. However, you must ensure sales aren’t wasting time when they could be closing deals, if they could maximise their time chasing low hanging fruit. Wasting time on lukewarm leads doesn’t just waste valuable resource – it’s a sure fire way to demotivate a sales force. Collaboration is essential to ensure you get the most out of marketing and sales, shorten your sales cycle and let your sales team do what they do best – bring in the money!
New leads are great – but what about those that already know you?
Generating leads is at the centre of most marketing team’s objectives, yet most companies never take full advantage of the investment they have spent in getting those leads. When there is a push to generate more sales, marketing tend to concentrate on generating even more leads. Which often means sales begin ignoring leads as they receive an influx of leads of all different stages and they struggle to sift for those low hanging fruit. The hot leads get worked and the rest gather dust in the CRM. Then more new leads surface and the cycle continues.
Everyone recognises the importance of nurturing leads – it’s cheaper and more valuable than generating new leads. Yet, how much resource and focus is placed on this process? Is it monitored and ROI measured? If the answer is unclear, it probably isn’t getting enough attention.
The handover between marketing and sales; what happens next?
Marketing doesn’t end as soon as a prospect has filled in their details, and sales should have the intelligence from marketing to predetermine a lead’s stage before contacting them. Lead metrics are an important part of the collaboration, allowing you to define the initial handover process when a lead is hot enough to go to sales. It’s not about creating a complicated algorithm to define this process – keep it human and keep in mind this is about getting in front of your buying market. A number of articles from HubSpot and Forbes illustrate that companies need to contact their leads quicker and more consistently. At INCo, we use HubSpot to close the loop so that the sales team contact the lead the very same day. But once it’s with sales, and a lead is staged at lower levels indicating it must be nurtured over time, marketing should come back into the picture to warm up those leads.
The process which an organisations follows to nurture a lead should be specific to your Buyer Personas and target market buying cycle, but in general the follow-up should incorporate three elements:
1. Customer-centricity: Your follow-ups must inform your prospects and customers. Provide valuable content specific to their needs. If you’re contacting them with nothing to offer in return, your presence will not be welcomed for long.
2. Consistency: Your prospects may not understand or be receptive to your message first time around. If you left the engagement slip, you’ll soon be forgotten and back to square one. Marketing automation, with a tool such as HubSpot, is really useful to make sure the engagement schedule is adhered to. A BASHO email sequence is a good way to schedule consistent messages.
3. Direct and Digital channels: To maximise impact, a multi-channel approach which encompasses traditional and digital marketing will allow you to create multiple touchpoints across the channels which your Buyer Persona responds to. Think phone, direct mail, webinars and LinkedIn messages to name a few.
Content warms the sales engagement
What’s good about marketing content is that it doesn’t only help your sales team, it also helps the customer better understand your company and services, without having to make a direct call to you – something that a lot of people don’t do. When prospects are prepped well through content, sales engagement will be much smoother as prospects are sales-ready and already hold a level of knowledge about your company.
Smarketing = revenue
Emerging practices which require the closer collaboration of sales and marketing will ensure better results for organisations. If some of the weight of lead nurturing is taken off your sales team, they will be able to exceed their targets wasting less time on lukewarm leads. In turn, the marketing team will build credibility and value in the company by making a more direct impact on revenue. Using Direct and Digital marketing channels to nurture leads, companies can experience a far higher return on its investment in generating leads and fuel real growth.