Marketing has the challenge of not only lead generation for the sales organisation but also nurturing leads, particularly where the generation of new business is a significant part of the sales strategy.
Marketing has numerous tools available to generate high volumes of leads through the onset of digital marketing and buyers willing to engage promptly. This creates a lot of activity showing marketing is drawing the audience to the business and may be deemed as performing their function well.
Executives new to marketing often believe the noise of clicks, downloads, and forms filled in is a sign of good performance. Each of those activities served the sales organisation as a prospective customer ready to buy, and that is often the end of the relationship between marketing and sales.
The sales team are charged with calling those leads with the focus of filling their sales funnel. They quickly burn through all the contacts finding little to no opportunity as the buyers are not as ready to purchase now as indicated by marketing. This can be a combination of marketing not understanding the sales cycle or sales having a sense of urgency to close the leads. There will be a low sales conversion ratio due to the disconnect between marketing and sales.
Sales teams focus on sales that are current, and very few have the time or are rewarded for nurturing sales conversions. They are measured ultimately on cash in the bank.
The relationship between marketing and sales has been strained for many years. Both operate with different agendas and are never really aligned. A lead to one department does not often stand firm in the other.
Buyers that reach out and touch your business through digital information are at different buying stages in the buyer cycle, and a one-size-fits-all follow-up calling campaign will quickly disengage buyers unnecessarily.
For effective marketing, both marketing and sales need to understand the buying process of their customers and be attuned to each step of the process. Understand the timelines for their decisions according to deal size and, importantly, understand what triggers the buyer to the next stage of the process.
Only when this information is entirely understood can marketing categorise leads and implement a sound nurturing programme to stimulate buyers to prioritise your company. This methodology works particularly well for business-to-business selling as purchasing decisions are planned following a standard buying cycle. Rarely do they happen spontaneously.
According to a 2017 survey by Demand Gen Report, leads nurtured by marketing achieve a conversion ratio three times greater and show a 20% increase in sales opportunities when compared to non-nurtured leads.
Nurturing for Sales Conversions
Your marketing department needs to implement a marketing strategy that has a lead nurturing strategy within it. There must be a clear understanding of the target audience and buyer personas so high-quality lead nurturing campaigns can be delivered.
The campaigns will be a combination of target content such as blog posts, email marketing, automation emails, and social media connections, all with the intent of nurturing sales conversions. They must keep the buyers engaged and build a profile through lead scoring, showing when the customers are most likely to purchase or wish to engage with the company.
A well-managed automated lead nurturing programme, continuously evaluating and measuring the quality of leads to ensure the handover to sales occurs at the right time. The tracking of the lead-to-sales ratio remains a measurement of marketing, as it is a measurement of sales.
The lead management process must incorporate multiple avenues for tracking prospect behaviour as well as optimising how you communicate with them. This includes optimising the use of marketing automation software and content along with telemarketing, email, websites, direct mail and other forms of communication.
It takes an average of five to seven quality touches to nurture an early-stage buyer-to-sales lead, and even then, this may not be a quality, sales-ready lead. By implementing a lead nurturing programme, you will have the critical information needed to base your lead handover decision and know when the timing is most likely to be productive for sales as a qualified lead. Moreover, when this is done correctly, your volume of quality leads will increase, and so will your sales team’s willingness to engage.
A qualified lead is one that meets the following universal criteria:
- The prospect’s profile has been completed
- The prospect is aware of a problem and searching for a solution
- Budget is available to make a purchase
- The purchasing timeframe has been identified
Establishing these processes and criteria in advance increases the quality of leads and buying experience for your customers. It increases the engagement level of your sales organisation, with them giving more care and priority to leads produced by marketing.
To discuss how to build a nurturing programme for your marketing department, please reach out by contacting our office.
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