By Bill McGinnis
Today’s blog post “4 ingredients to lead followup’s secret sauce” by Bill McGinnis was originally posted on Gardner Business Media, Inc.
You are a hard-working marketer in charge of lead generation.
Why is sales ignoring the leads you’re generating?
As with most issues with lead generation, and with life, there is never one answer. Just as there are several ingredients to a delicious dish, there are 4 key ingredients to delicious leads that sales would love to consume:
Let’s examine each in context, in reverse order.
What is your definition of a “qualified lead?” What is sales’ definition of the same? With data, you and sales can agree on an objective description by scoring profile and behavioral characteristics of a lead.
Profile data describes both the person and the company for which the lead works. For example, the title or role. If your product is suited for IT, then give a higher score for IT than for operations personnel. If VPs make most of the decisions for your products, give VPs a higher score than Directors. When the VP of IT fills out a form on your website, that would rate a higher quality lead than a Director of Operations.
Is your product more suited to healthcare companies than high-tech? Would a company with 1500 employees be more likely to buy your product than one with 15,000? These are data points that can be scored on the account level.
Now that we have some good profile data to score, let’s address behavioral data. With marketing automation systems, you can track the interactions that leads have on your website. Someone who has visited your site frequently and often is showing high interest. If that person has visited the page where installation instructions can be downloaded, that means even more interest. Specific “behaviors” on your website should be scored accordingly and points added (if they visit your job postings page a lot – well, maybe you should deduct from their score!)
You’ve now used data to create an objective definition of a “good lead.”
Today’s competitive market and overwhelming amount of content generated on the internet demands that your company invest in marketing automation integrated with CRM. Marketing automation tracks the interactions leads exhibit on your website, captures the sources of incoming leads to your website from digital advertising and social media, automatically scores leads as above, and most importantly, automates the orchestration of 1000s of activities until it creates leads for sales in your CRM. Without this technology, you could just be relying on infrequent inquiries from your “Contact Us” page that disappear in someone’s inbox.
Now, although you have outfitted yourself with some slick marketing automation tools, have you outfitted your sales team as well? Marketing automation platforms also have sales tools that allow sales to choose relevant, branded templates created by marketing to follow up on leads. Sales can send the right followup emails after conversations or voice mails. They can also track a lead’s response to emails and website visits. This will help them time phone calls and other follow-up activities, and thus nail down a lead for conversion.
If you are assuming that leads, no matter how “hot,” thrown over the cubicle wall will guarantee followup and success, then you just have a broken process.
Are you assuming sales knows how to process your precious high-scored leads when they get them? And how do they “get” them in the first place? This is where you need to map out a specific process for sales that gives them the step by step instructions on how to turn a lead into commission dollars. If you are assuming that leads, no matter how “hot,” thrown over the cubicle wall will guarantee followup and success, then you just have a broken process. Here’s a nice process for you and sales to use:
- Present sales with a lead alert email linked to a lead in your CRM. Include any and all contact info including phone numbers, email, address, social media profile – whatever you can collect.
- Present the clear reason why this a great lead that includes inquiry messaging from the lead and all profile and behavioral data.
- Clearly include what your salesperson should say to the lead when contacting by email and phone. Include sample messaging (“Thank you for your inquiry about product XYZ. I see that you asked about ABC. Our product XYZ is used by people in your role and similar companies in your industry to improve 123”.) Present sample messaging in the context of a direct phone contact, an intro email, and a voice mail.
- Show salespeople how to set up reminders or use CRM to automatically create reminders for leads that are not reached.
- Think of every detail that you want to happen and that you want sales to perform. Why make assumptions? Make it easy for sales to quickly and easily follow up on the lead! They will love you for it.
Skip this part and all the hard work above goes down the drain. “People” is your first and most important step. Why?
Take lead scoring. Create a lead scoring model in your marketing vacuum and you’ll get push back immediately from sales. Sales and marketing should be in the room and around the table together to decide how to score leads. An example would be the role criterion. Are you both sure that VPs make the best leads? What about the people that work for the VPs that are doing the research? Also, placing a lead score of “A1” on a lead means nothing to a sales person unless sales has been fully debriefed on the meaning of what “A1” is.
How about technology? Have you ever trained sales people on how to convert a lead into an Account, Contact and Opportunity? Unfortunately, this process is quite un-intuitive but lives in just about every CRM. Either train (and re-train) each and every sales person exactly how to do it or consider converting leads for them. Your lead tracking and reporting mechanisms will quickly break if converting is not performed correctly.
Is sales AND marketing leadership on the same page about the process that will be used to drive lead generation? Is your lead generation process in synch with sales’ comp plan this year? If sales earns higher commissions this year on renewing customers and penetrating 1 or 2 specific industries, then your lead generation plan should support this plan explicitly.
These are examples of the People component: joint planning, training, and mutual agreement. Come together as one to plan once per year, and follow up quarterly to stay on track.
Data One More Time
How well are we doing? You will only know if you can develop data-driven KPIs with sales that show how well you are both progressing, what percentage of leads are being addressed, how many leads are really good, what’s working, what’s not, what can be improved, and how much revenue you are both generating.
Part of your People process will be to mutually agree on reports and dashboards that directly indicate how you are both achieving your mutual goals for lead follow-up – and revenue generation.
People, process, technology and data – kind of just rolls off the tongue and tastes great going down!
Learn more about how we can help you cook up a recipe for successful lead generation today.