Generating a bunch of inquiries and leads without a consideration for lead follow-up and nurturing …I consider that to be ‘motion.’ ‘Action’ occurs when you have a system in place to ensure 100% follow-up of the results over an extended time (an average sales cycle).
When inquiries are abandoned by sales reps at still alarming rates (75-90% are said to be never followed-up by a sales representative), the marketing department has had to pick up the chore by lead nurturing. Lead nurturing isn't new, it started in earnest in the early 90's.
I know for a fact - the companies that nurture and follow-up 100% of their inquiries and turn what is “turn-able” into leads sell more than those that don’t; 200%-400% more is not uncommon. If you want proof, review any of the marketing automation stats, back by thier research. If you want to learn more, try Hubspots free training course on sales lead management.
There is enough research from the marketing automation companies to know that this is no longer just an opinion, but established fact. If you want to get the greatest return on your lead generation ‘spend,’ you have two choices:
1. Salespeople must follow-up 100% of the inquiries and not give up until the inquirer says they have bought or will not be buying.
2. Marketing will nurture the inquiry until it is ready to turn over to Sales, or will nurture it during the salesperson’s follow-up process. The two departments will be co-equals in pursuing the inquiries/leads until the person buys or dies.
Marketing has been increasingly inserting itself deeper into the sales funnel. While both Sales and Marketing are responsible for ‘action,’ Marketing needs to take the lead in determining who will do what and in establishing the timetable.
Have you mistaken motion for action?
More about Marketing and the Sales Funnel
The trend toward "Where's Waldo?" websites that hide company contact information has spilled over into email signatures. Let's take a poll: Who still uses email? Ahhhh, many hands go up. It's not going anywhere. Although more professionals, especially younger ones, skip the entire phone number element altogether, "Best, Cameron" isn't enough and that's not a signature.
There comes a point when you lose interest in a career you spent a lifetime building, or just letting go of that dream project because you’re not feeling it anymore. What happened to your dream of being a pilot or an astronaut or a firefighter when you were a kid? There’s a lot of reasons people lose interest and motivation as life happens around them, and in the world of marketing, that is called lead mismanagement.
Businesses try so hard to generate leads, or prospects, in order to grow their revenue and sustain their brand. But getting these leads is an entirely different thing from keeping them. When you get an inquiry from a potential customer, how do you handle them and how do you keep them interested? This is where it gets complicated because nurturing customer relationships takes more than just giving them an automated reply.
A study revealed that 48% of salespeople quit after the first contact, while 90% quit at the fourth. This means only 10% are especially persistent, which is very rewarding considering that 80% of sales are made after the fifth contact. Why does this happen? Maybe the one in charge of lead generation was looking at the wrong person, or maybe because the lead isn’t fully ready yet, as in it is not ready to make a sale. Whatever it is, persistence is key. But other than that, there are other things that marketers can do in order to manage their leads properly, keep them interested, and who knows, maybe they will even become loyal customers.
Don’t keep them waiting
People are becoming increasingly impatient. They don’t like waiting, and they definitely take it personally when they are ignored.
A study from Autodeal about car dealership response time showed that dealers who responded in 6 hours or less achieved an average 40% improvement in conversion rate. And as response time shortens, the probability of making a sale improves. In fact, dealers responding in an hour or less are 48% more likely to close a sale. This only goes to show that the quality of your response is as important as the time you took to respond.
Customer response time shows how a company values its customers. If the customers feel they are being neglected, they will surely bring their business elsewhere. Poor response time means poor customer service, and ultimately will cost a company its customers and revenue.
Track your leads
How the leads were generated is a fairly important question. It is only by knowing where they came from will you have an idea of where they’re going.
There are many ways to source these leads, such as inbound marketing, organic search, paid ads, referrals, etc. If you know how they were generated, it will be a bit easier for you to know what will work for them. For example, if you know that a lead was generated out of a paid ad on promos and discounts, you’ll know which leads to tap the next time you have similar activities. They probably aren’t ready to make a sale on the first contact, but they are likely to be thinking about it.
Pass the lead to the proper person
In managing a team, it doesn’t matter how talented or how skilled an employee is. If you put him in a position that is not fit for him, all his skills and talents are put to waste. Such is the case in lead management. If you assign the lead to someone ill-equipped to manage and nurture it, let’s just say you risk losing potential customers and profit.
This is where lead distribution comes in. Well-distributed leads increase the probability of converting these leads. Remember that each lead is different, and it needs a special team or person to handle it. In short, you have to play the matchmaker. For starters, you can match based on skills, geography or location, or niche and expertise.
Once distributed, track the progress and outcomes of the assigned leads. No one is expected to perfect the process all at once; monitoring and constant collaboration is necessary so you’ll know both strong points and weak points that you can use later on.
Nurture your leads, don’t give up too easily
Just like in life, some things take a little more time than others. But do you give up on a dream just because of a temporary setback?
You need to nurture those dreams. In marketing, you need to nurture leads that takes a while to be sales-ready. A study by SiriusDecisions found that 80% of those marketers consider to be bad leads go on to make a purchase within two years.
Another study by Autodeal also showed that failure to nurture high funnel leads, or customers who are still canvassing from different dealers, are having a negative impact on conversion rate. This is because opportunities are being missed, and that marketers and salespeople gave up too easily.
What you need to do is to discover opportunities in bad leads, and continue fostering a healthy customer relationship by moving your leads along the sales process, giving them relevant content, and maintaining a connection.
Measure success (or failure)
Technology has made it so easy to measure how successful (or unsuccessful) a digital marketing campaign is. All your efforts will go to waste if you don’t monitor and measure, and ultimately understand what these algorithms are all about. Remember that in a quickly evolving virtual world the room for improvement just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Leads are prospects, and they deserve to be treated like a valued customer. You have to engage them and bring them in, you have to make them want to stay, and you want to make them want to come back. You have to take care of them. While strategies can be quite mechanical and impersonal, the usual values of a great sales person or marketer should pay off: persistence, creativity, and genuine care.
Stuff happens in golf and sales. You can shank it, hit into all the traps, and miss every green but that one sweet under-par hole can change the game for you. Just like that one sweet sale can change your outlook on sales.
Marketing and Sales alignment continues to remain a hot topic in research and conferences. Why? Because in the words of Mary Shea, principal analyst for Forrester, “After years of acknowledging their issues with each other, many B2B marketing and sales teams continue to be at odds.”
Why it Matters
"Ghost leads are often from your most qualified prospects which are current customers which means the loss to the company is huge."
This job description for the Sales Lead Manager has been updated several times and the list of essential functions continues to grow. It was last updated in June of 2016. You can forward this to others or give them this link to the description on the SLMA site. In many respects the importance of this position has grown to be of equal importance to the Marketing Operations Manager. The two functions may share responsibility.
At the end of another blog entry (one of the best read) titled “All know the way; few actually walk it. ~Bodhidharma,” I quoted Giraudoux’s famous saying, “Only the mediocre are always at their best.”
As typically happens when we read something like this, we assume “the mediocre” is always someone else. It’s certainly not us.
Manufacturing can’t produce products without a process, Sales can’t sell without a process, Engineering can’t define a product without a process, Accounting and Finance can’t manage without a process, and Marketing can’t market without a sales lead management (SLM) process.
Of course, Marketing can create a yearly plan, but without an Sales Lead Management process the plan is a fantasy; Marketing can’t create qualified leads or measure results without a defined SLM process.
Without an SLM process, no one in Marketing is accountable because success isn’t measurable. Of course the salespeople are held accountable, but without an SLM process they spend time on ‘garbage’ leads that suck the life out of their jobs and contribute to quota failure.
Today’s Marketing Realities: