5 Rules of Marketing to Increase Sales-Ready Leads
I have been marketing for different Sales teams for over 15 years and the question ‘what is a lead’ is the most annoying sticking point for both marketers and sales alike. As a result, I’ve seen marketing strategies come and go in an attempt to bridge this gap. Often the rift is caused by Sales and Marketing working as two separate teams, with similar but separate agendas. However, both teams seek the same things, a high volume of quality business opportunities. So with the same goal, what can Sales and Marketing do together, to achieve this?
Here are 5 rules to implement:
1. Identify your customer journey
The first rule is for Sales and Marketing to identify their customer journey and, most importantly, agree who has responsibility over different stages of the sales cycle. Historically, Marketing’s role was simply to identify a prospect and then Sales would guide them through the sales funnel. But as more and more customers self-educate online (CEB research indicates customers are 57% through the sales cycle before they are prepared to talk to sales), the initial part of the sales funnel now sits with marketing and the creation of educational materials.
However, acceptance of this model still does not answer the question ‘what is a lead’ or identify when a customer is ‘sales-ready’, this requires an understanding of lead quality and the ability to score leads.
Changing the focus from volume to quality
A sales lead can no longer be someone who ‘clicked-through’ on receiving an email. Instead, us marketers need to get smart. We need to look at historic data and identify which resources lead to a sales conversion. Often it will be a series of resources and using this info, you should be able to identify which resources are consumed at which points in the sales cycle. This will in turn allow you to ‘score’ each piece of resource. For example, research papers and website visits are often at the start of content maps, with ebooks and webinars demonstrating a need for more targeted answers, while a request for a quote or demonstration often is a strong indicator that the prospect is sales-ready.
2. Use prospect intelligence for greater sales conversion
Data is now business gold and it is vital that both teams are sharing information that generates leads. Marketing, for example, should share all lead intelligence; from initial contact with the company to the social media interactions, web pages visited and resources downloaded. Using this information, Sales can then identify the customers’ pain points and prep for the initial sales call, to ensure greater conversion.
Sales should also be sharing information back to Marketing, such as the number of communications and the tactics used to communicate with a lead, once the lead is open, its status, whether it whether it is in progress, abandoned or closed, and if closed, the revenue value.
By sharing data, Sales can shorten the sales cycle and increase conversion rates and Marketing can constantly improve campaigns and invest in campaigns that generate the highest return on investment.
3. Encourage Sales to define your marketing message
I hate to admit it but Marketing doesn’t always have the best ideas relating to content topic and messages. Often Sales can offer valuable input, thanks to the insight they get while talking to prospect and customers alike. It is, therefore, imperative that Marketing consults with Sales when planning campaigns. But secondly, it is equally imperative that Sales embraces this role as a content provider. By supporting Marketing in content creation, Sales ensures the material promoted by the company addresses the popular questions and pain points of customers.
Initially, Sales must consider the most commonly asked questions, both positive and negative in terms of selling points and feed this information back to Marketing. Marketing then should apply this information when generating new content and in turn, make Sales aware of the resources and the customer queries it addresses. Sales can then use the prospect intelligence of the content that has been digested to know which queries to address, establishing a point of reference from which all future communication can derive.
4. Use real-time reporting to drive your marketing strategy
It is vital that both teams work to one common goal and all individual targets are set to achieve this goal. Often, the key goal is the company’s revenue target. Then working backwards using historic data, such as average deal size, conversion rates, it should be possible to calculate the number of sales deals required to hit the revenue target and the number of marketing leads required.
Once these targets are set, both teams must regularly review their progress against each success criteria, and a simple way to achieve this is by using dashboards, whether within your CRM or Marketing Automation software. This provides employees an overview of progress against goals and measures key performance indicators to ensure all employees remain fully aware of their role and stay motivated to achieve the overall company objectives.
5. Increase the productivity of the Sales and Marketing teams with CRM
All the rules above relate to implementing an inbound content marketing strategy and creating this content can be an additional burden on already over-committed teams. One way to address this burden is to improve the productivity of both teams by introducing CRM and Marketing automation software. Both business tools help to reduce repetitive tasks and automation helps to manage routine communications, such as renewal notices. However, it is the access to customer data, for targeting, pipeline management and business analytics that can increase productivity by 140% according to Nucleus Research.
In summary, Marketing and Sales should no longer be working as two separate departments, with two separate agendas, but working as one, with one set of rules to achieve the key goal of the company – to increase revenues. For greater insight into implementing these rules, download our latest whitepaper: The changing role in Marketing.
You might also be interested in
Joining Maximizer Software in May 2012, Anita lends her expertise to the delivery of all marketing communications and PR. With a Diploma in Direct Marketing and more than 14 years marketing and commercial experience, Anita is responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of a diverse portfolio of marketing tactics, specialising in...