Prospecting is one of the most difficult parts of the sales process. Why? The act of prospecting is typically interruptive, performed at the salesperson's convenience rather than the prospects, and too often it occurs too early in the buyers journey. All of this leads to frustration and inefficiency for the salesperson, and a turn-off for the potential buyer.
In contrast, lead nurturing strategies educate and build trust with your prospects through tailored content, producing "hand raising" behavioral cues along the way. This behavioral qualification goes well beyond lead demographic data by showing readiness for a sales engagement. Imagine the joy of a salesperson's job if the majority of their leads are served up to them through lead nurturing, eliminating cold calls altogether?
It is no surprise that companies with a strong lead nurturing model generate more revenue at a lower cost. Strategic IC found that businesses who nurture leads make 50% more sales at 33% less expense than non-nurtured prospects. TREW and IEEE GlobalSpec's research on engineers’ buying behavior shows that technical prospects complete over 50 percent of the buyers journey before they engage with sales, further building the case for lead nurturing.
This all sounds great, but there is a tension between quality and quantity. These nurturing techniques take time, but let's be real -- sales has tangible quotas to meet, and can't always sit patiently and wait for a handoff from marketing. If the lead volume is not there, the salesperson will either reach out to leads sooner than ideal and/or dust off the dreaded cold prospecting scripts.
So what keeps the VP of Sales and Marketing up at night? The struggle to establish a perfect model where prospects are knocking down the door (rather than being repelled by aggressive prospecting behavior), and marketing and salespeople's talents are being applied in the most productive and motivating way (rather than with inefficient actions and dismal results, leading to stress, conflict and ultimately loss of talent).
Clearly it is critical that marketing and sales work as a team. According to HubSpot, companies with a lead handoff service-level agreement (SLA) are three times as likely to be effective. Who wouldn't want a 3x performance gain?
This all sounds interesting, but how exactly do you go about making a change? An excellent starting point is to build a Lead Pipeline Model. This document outlines the who, what, when, where, and how of the lead lifecycle.
A Lead Pipeline Model should establish:
1. Lead and opportunity definitions - What is a contact versus a lead? When is a lead considered qualified? What defines a sales opportunity? Without clear definitions, confusion is likely and the risk of a process gap rises. Take the time to clearly define each definition and educate your team, so that you're all using the same terms in the same way.
2. Lead conversion goals - These should encompass benchmark conversion rates for each stage, from visit:lead, lead:opportunity, opportunity:sale (and other in-between stages as applicable). You may also want to include time-oriented goals, such as speed of follow-up or closure.
3. Lead conversion process - It’s important to map and document actions that should be taken throughout the lead conversion process, including identifying the person/role responsible for each action. Both sales and marketing actions should be included, as they both have an important role to fill. Expected timeliness of response is often also outlined as part of this process.
4. Insight - What information does each role need to do his or her job effectively, from marketing to sales to leadership? Data capture processes, requirements, and accuracy should be addressed, as it is often a significant issue for growing companies.
5. Tools - Once steps 1-4 are complete, it is time to identify where technology can help automate processes and provide deeper insight. CRM and marketing automation software are the two biggest focus areas. You also should examine the many benefits of utilizing an integrated platform, or integrating your disparate systems together.
Ready to get started with your sales enablement strategy? Download our free white paper, How to Engineer a High-Performing Pipeline, to discover how to align your sales and marketing teams to fill and manage your growing pipeline.
To learn more about TREW Marketing’s sales enablement services, including our Smart Pipeline Management for EngineersWorkshop, email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule time with our Sales Enablement Strategist.