How Should Sales Treat a Lead Generated From Digital Marketing?
Within business, there is always a contrast between the way sales and marketing interact with potential customers. Marketing prefers to nurture new customers, where sales are eager to close a deal and move on to the next consumer. In recent times however, we have seen that a hard-selling tactic is no longer effective as our buying habits have evolved. We no longer like being followed by a salesperson (instore or virtually) and like to research and make our own decisions. This makes lead generation and conversion different from what it used to be, with a wealth of competitors and knowledge on the market, consumers have more choice than ever whilst businesses must work twice as hard to be seen and to transform potential leads into paying customers.
There will then inevitably be a difference in opinion as to how salespeople and marketing people would want to treat incoming leads.
What is a Lead?
Contrary to what some might think a lead, cannot be considered the first stage of inbound marketing. Lead generation falls within the second stage of inbound marketing. Once you have attracted an audience for your product you can now work on converting them into a lead for the sales team.
It is also important to note the difference between a sales qualified lead and a marketing qualified lead, as both will have different needs and expectations. A sales qualified lead is a customer who has already expressed a firm desire to purchase your product, they will need little or no further encouragement before making their buying decision. A marketing qualified lead, however, is a customer who although engaged by your marketing efforts, is not yet ready to move to a paying customer. They must therefore be nurtured by marketing and sales with the purpose of moving them to become a paying customer.
Qualifying The Lead & Lead Scoring.
Before you go to the effort of moving a customer through a marketing and sales funnel, it is important to qualify if the interest is valid. Are they interested in your product, are they a competitor or potentially just spam? There are several questions you can ask your lead to qualify their interest. You can reach out to customers directly, to qualify their interest and support the prospects research with some more information or content from your marketing, e.g. a case study. If you are struggling to know where to start with the questions, you can start by asking;
- What were they looking for when they found your company?
- Why were they researching this?
- Is this a part of an active project?
- What is the company’s budget?
- Why the need for your product arose?
- Who makes the buying decisions within the company?
- What their expectation are for a buying and implementation timeframe?
Once you have more data on the lead you can give them a corresponding score to denote how hot this lead is. Scoring the lead like this will allow your sales teams to use their time more effectively, focusing on the leads that are likely to generate sales.
Don’t Make The Lead Wait
Leads, once qualified, need to be nurtured straight away. The level of interest from your potential customer is dropping with every minute you wait to respond, and they may already be looking at competing products. It is therefore important for a sales team to have an internal routine for handling incoming leads, with the aim of getting positive responses within 24 hours of receiving a lead.
Direct leads into a mailbox can be missed, forgotten, or not attended to due to the demands on a sales team’s time. Many businesses are seeing the benefits of leading customers to a department-wide email address that can be monitored by the whole team, or by investing in an automated calendar booking system. Having an effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system such as HubSpot, which ties both sales and marketing activities, becomes critical for logging interactions with customers to ensure your whole team are all aware of where they are on their sale’s journey.
Many of the leads picked up through marketing will not yet be ready to take the leap to be a customer. They will need more information on your product and how it solves the issues they are facing or how it opens up an opportunity for them. One of the best ways to convey this information is through webinars. Webinars are a low-cost way to showcase your product and its key features in front of your target audience. You also guarantee your audience is engaged by the fact they had to register and log in to attend. You can also measure engagement throughout the webinar to see if any factors such as ease of entry, the topic, or length of the webinar can be refined for next time.
There are many other marketing materials you can use to inform customers. Whitepapers, blogs, instructional videos and Q&A questions all work well to fill in the gaps potential customers might have about your product. Often the information will not just be for the lead, but others within the company they need to convince to make a buying decision.
Offer an Incentive
Offering an incentive is a great way to secure the “yes” that converts a lead into a customer. It can be telling if you are failing to grow leads that your product or offering might not be tempting enough. Offers can remain flexible and can be changed to suit the customers need, in fact, the more tailored and exclusive an offer feels the more desirable it becomes to a customer. If you do not have the flexibility to create an offer, free trials of your product also work to effectively entice a customer. By trying your product they get to see it effectively solving the problem they faced and will be completed to purchase when faced with the prospect of losing it.
At the end of the sales journey, your customer will reach their decision. They will either buy from you or not. It is important for a sales team to not be scared to ask for a sale. It might seem strange to say but many sales teams will not just simply ask their leads if they are ready to buy. Your leads became leads because they are interested in your product and what it offers. If you are not prepared to ask for the sale your competitors will.
There are many tricks and techniques sales teams might employ when closing a sale, but many of these techniques could now seem outdated, especially nowadays with the rise in inbound sales. If you have effectively engaged with your customer to discover their needs and successfully communicated how your product can affordably satisfy their needs, then there should be no barrier to closing the sale.
Asking for a sale will also stop you from wasting time with cold leads. Setting a time limit on communications is a terrific way to apply soft pressure to a potential customer and allows you to help your sales and marketing funnels up to date with engaged customers and not wasting time or effort chasing a dead lead.