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You got a Lead… Now What?

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nurture leads

Author: Carter Matthews

One of the most important roles for marketers continues to be lead generation and proving ROI for their marketing efforts.  At the same time, one of the biggest challenges facing marketers every day is how to convert leads into sales; i.e. how to prove their marketing efforts works! A common mistake I see companies making is when marketing sends *every* lead generated to sales for follow up.

When this happens, problems between sales and marketing coordination are right around the corner. If you’re lucky enough to have sales follow up with every lead marketing sends them, they may discover that most contacts weren’t qualified or ready for the sales process. The sales team will become frustrated and will likely stop following up with leads altogether. The next step is the inner-organization “blame game”:

Marketing to Sales: “Sales reps are lazy and not following up with leads we’re providing.”

Sales to Marketing: “The leads aren’t any good.”

This blame game is common and leads to distrust between marketing and sales, which then leads to lack of communication and information sharing.  It’s important to remember that lead generation is a means to an end and not the end itself. The end goal of lead generation is acquiring customers, not leads.  We all can agree on that, so what can we do to fix it?

One solution would be a marketing automation system with lead scoring and nurturing. There is plenty of information out there on that subject, with tools like Hubspot, Marketo and other marketing automation platforms you can use.  Essentially these platforms help you deliver the right content to the right prospect at the right time while allowing you to see activity that the prospect is taking thereby alerting you when it’s time to get that prospect in touch with sales. But it does take time, resources, effort and knowledge.

If you aren’t ready for that solution yet, you can still implement some smart lead nurturing tactics within your organization to start:

  1. Identify the type of lead!!!

This is a critical first step.  Where did this lead come from?  If you get a ‘request for sales consult’ through your website then GREAT- you’ve captured a sales qualified lead and you should pass to sales immediately! However, many leads captured by marketing are Informational Leads (meaning they gave you their information in exchange for something).  Common examples:

  • Badge scan at a trade show booth
  • Webinar Sign-Up
  • White Paper download
  1. Qualify the lead

My first recommendation with qualifying an information lead is to just make sure they fit within a range of criteria that could lead to a customer.  You can weed-out some initial people in this process with some simple research such as a quick Google search or LinkedIn visit.  This may include: competitors, researchers or others who aren’t likely to turn into a customer opportunity.

Once you’ve identified they are a prospect to be a customer, then congratulations! You’ve generated a “marketing qualified lead”.  Now they’re ready to pass to sales right?  Well, NO- not yet if you want to keep cycling through that sales and marketing blame game.

  1. Make a Marketing Follow-Up

You don’t need to have a marketing automation platform to do this. For example, email your marketing qualified leads with a “Thank you for downloading our ___ paper; signing up for our webinar; visiting our booth at ___ (you get the picture).  Did you find the information useful?” Sending a question at the very end of your email is a great way to start a dialogue. If the person responds, marketing has an opportunity to learn more about the contact and how the company might really be able to help them.

Once this dialogue is started, you could send a next step option which would further qualify the contact.  A few examples… offering a free consultation or trial demo, asking them if they’d like the technical product brochure or presentation” are other simple examples.  Even questions can serve as a qualifier… are there specific questions you can develop that you know are a pre-qualifier for sales?  (Note: a marketing automation tool would tell you when these prospects take additional steps like clicking for the spec sheet or brochure if you have it set up properly).

You can easily set up a few turn-key templates for this depending on the lead source.  Maybe even develop your own “marketing newsletter” that is different than your primary newsletter designed specifically for nurturing your leads to a next action.

  1. Sales Qualified Lead

Once you get a bite on your marketing follow-up, send it over to sales and quickly! Hopefully, you have some type of CMS system where all of these touch-points are logged for easy access, but if not, make sure you are sending as much information as possible to your sales team; including all of the touch points along with the contact information (ex: attended our webinar on topic/date, downloaded our white paper on topic/pain point and clicked for the catalog.)

Once you implement even some basic lead nurturing tactics, you’ll improve your lead to customer rates, reduce wasted time on your sales team, and ultimately increase trust and cooperation between your sales and marketing teams.

Have any questions? Use the form below to start a conversation!

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