Part 2: There are lead and there are leads, good lead generation approaches

Part 2:  From Lead Generation to Deeper Lead Qualifying and Nurturing – How to progress the sales cycle

Introduction

This is the second part in extending our previous lead generation discussion Part 1: There are leads and leads. effective lead generation approaches.

Before we dive into a discussion about what effective lead generation and lead nurturing is, how to effectively qualify your leads better and what our definition of MQL (marketing qualified lead) and SQL (sales qualified lead) is, let’s ensure we’re on the same page with a quick checklist based on the new marketing and sales funnel way of thinking ( if your organisation alignment has acknowledged the purchasing and decision making process of the modern buyer )

Marketing and Sales Lead Generation

Quick checklist

  1. Has your organization defined what a lead is?
  2. Is everyone in the organisation involved in the marketing and sales cycle able to articulate what a MQL is, and what a SQL is?
  3. Is there a clear ‘point’ at which marketing hands over leads to sales?
  4. Has marketing and sales reached agreement in terms of what a lead is?

If you can answer those questions, or at least go some way towards it in in functional maturity, let’s move forward to discussing lead nurturing!

Lead nurture is part of the marketing call process – which can be a lead follow up or a request for more information in call or email format over a period of time – if the prospect isn’t able or willing to commit their interest to set an appointment, we need to lead nurture in order to progress the prospect activity in the new business development process from marketing.

This lead is a warm lead to nurture and follow up on with further contract to progress a marketing lead opportunity or hot lead to provide to the sales team for sales engagement and then sales opportunity qualification (SQL) which is aimed to turn into a real sales opportunity to engage within the sales process to secure the sale within a timeframe.

What is our MQL and SQL process?

How we see a qualified lead appointment process – set during a marketing campaign for deeper lead qualification varies from organisation to organisation, however this is an outline of our higher quality qualification process for lead generation from marketing to sales and our approach aligned to:

  • We have reached the relevant prospect organisation and identified the correct contact relevant in the relevant audience area;
  • We are able to have an initial discussion to see how if we can assist the prospect with identifying or solving a business challenge or problem first and seeing if there is mutual acknowledgement for a brief follow up call or reason to meet.
  • We attempted to obtain at least 2 to 3 of the specific qualification questions and positive responses to minimum criteria or shown sufficient interest in a further discussion or information from company;
  • The process of data collection about the prospect’s current situation or environment is considered a warm lead that may or may not lead to an immediate firm appointment, pending timing of follow up or a lead nurture process;
  • The prospect did request to have some information sent first before agreement for a follow up or call-back before putting them into lead nurture or another marketing activity such as a subscriber to an event or company’s white paper over a period of time.
  • The lead appointment can either be phone based or face to face to handover to the sales person to further qualify from a sales engagement after the initial marketing lead has been completed.
  • The outcome of the lead appointment cannot guarantee a firm sales opportunity or a sale – this is up to the sales person to progress to determine and doesn’t take into effect any external factors that may impact performance or availability or prospect rescheduling an appointment.
  • From experience, there may be a need to engage multiple interactions (i.e a touch-point, call-back, email follow up) over a period of time (not just first call) with the prospect in order to convert the lead to a qualified appointment otherwise it will be placed to lead nurture status. This eventually leads to a defined sales opportunity that the sales person progresses through to signing an agreement to do business.

A Marketing Qualified Lead Appointment (MQL)

The type of marketing lead appointment we look at is the benchmark of a quality lead that is acceptable to the client’s specifications and we aim to bridge the gap between a traditional MQL and a SQL that requires an element or level of basic field sales experience or specific domain expertise that may/ may not uncover or qualify the lead with more depth

This applies for us typically within marketing B2B corporate complex solutions or professional services and technology campaigns such as cyber security or cloud application services to engage high level executives who are influencers, recommenders or decision makers.

A real example for Cybersecurity client lead generation campaign and appointment set:

Phone Appointment Set: October 7, 2016 10:00 AM, Date Last Called: 3rd October 2016

Contact Details: Mr GSPosition: Regional Risk Assurance Manager  Company: XYZ Pty Limited  

COMPANY NAME: XYZ Pty Limited, ADDRESS: XYZ Street, VIC, 3123

PHONE NUMBER: 61 3 123456  DIRECT LINE: 61 3 123456, MOBILE: None,  EMAIL:  gs@xyz.com.au

Marketing Qualification questions:

Q1. Do you have any identity management projects with governance and compliance process challenges ongoing or upcoming that will require preventative action?

Answer: Yes, they have an ongoing goal to enhance identity/security posture that includes identity management and access control. He declined to disclose their specific project.

Q2. Could I ask what challenges you have to provide visibility to business owners or auditors regarding access to corporate data? 

Answer: They have challenges like, how would they know who accessed the data or if it is not been compromised. He mentioned that they don’t have a control on whoever accessed their data.

Q3How do you perform access reviews, certification process and manage the enforcement of access policies today? Do you use manual Excel spreadsheets or Access databases?

Answer: Not Access DB, application revelation database depends on which application they use. It might be on the different flavors of database. Sometimes it’s integrated, sometimes not as claimed.

IMPORTANT TIPS:

  1. It is important to capture the context and content and work with a marketing agency or lead generation company who understands deeply the subject matter or concepts of the products and services when running a marketing campaign. It’s more effective if they have knowledge of how to attract and speak to the right audience (i.e IT level or C-Level executives) with field sales experience or some awareness.
  2. Please keep this in mind when partnering with an appropriate marketing agency or lead generation company.  Look out for marketing agency differentiation who can  run an integrated sales driven marketing campaign who understands how to execute the full marketing and sales funnel with deep Industry sector experience (for example with professional services and ICT sector domains with (SME – Subject Matter Experts on hand)

Summary

The current competitive and dynamic business environment, combined with a shift in traditional buyer behaviour, demands an understanding and respect of the importance of lead generation and nurture. An overall focus on ROI needs to guide exploration and investment, particularly in this time of shift from traditional marketing methods towards digital marketing automation in a go to market strategy.

If you are interested in a progressive or different way to address effective lead generation and lead nurturing campaigns; thinking about how the use of marketing automation tools such as Hubspot will assist to close the gap between sales and marketing and increase ROI for lead generation.  If you are open to exploring further specific lead generation strategies, methods and processed from both a sales and marketing perspective, please contact us for a confidential discussion.

Part 1: There are leads and there are leads, good lead generation tips

How do you run a successful lead generation campaign in today’s competitive environment with higher lead conversion and what are the common challenges?

The ‘Holy Grail’ for many businesses is how to find more consistent and high quality qualified leads generated through multiple marketing methods and channels, with less cost invested and reducing the sales cycle.

Do you still cold call, run targeted events or invest in digital marketing automation or both to generate great leads for new business development initiatives?

We’ve spoken to many people in various roles in businesses, and marketing agencies, and discovered there is a wide range of language used and ideas about what a lead is, how to generate leads, and how to nurture leads. This can cause confusion and friction between marketing and sales teams, and discrepancies between expectations and results.

While this varies across industry and sector, we commonly see a gap at the handover process; leads that marketing teams generate and qualify (MQL’s) often don’t align with the lead characteristics for sales qualified leads (SQL’s).

So what IS a lead?

A lead can be a contact point identified, a touch-point or interaction with the prospect at a very low level or a telephone number or email address obtained amongst different organisations within marketing.

For example in the ICT sector, this definition of a lead is according to

http://searchitchannel.techtarget.com/definition/lead

 A lead, in a marketing context, is a potential sales contact: an individual or organization that expresses an interest in your goods or services. Leads are typically obtained through the referral of an existing customer, or through a direct response to advertising/publicity. A company’s marketing department is typically responsible for lead generation.

We work with a different definition and process of how we see a lead defined and generated, based on an outbound demand generation calling campaign:

lead generated is a marketing qualified lead (MQL), meaning it’s a contact point or touch-point that we have reached on the phone or via email. We have managed to contact the prospect, have a discussion, uncover a need or pain point or interest area according to a number of defined qualifying criteria questions, before proceeding to attempt to set an initial phone appointment or face to face appointment for the sales representative handover to start the sales engagement.

How do you actually generate leads?

Client feedback often suggests that traditional marketing agencies coordinating lead generation campaigns (think B2B telemarketing) focus on ‘marketing’ leads which can run quite shallow, typically only ticking-off a basic requirement of the campaign. An effective marketing to sales lead handover though generally requires deeper qualification to progress engagement with the prospect.

While they might look enticing, cost-per-lead or prepaid leads models do not always guarantee a better sales opportunity or ROI as an outcome of the leads generated. Clients have told us that these models can pique interest and sometimes “tick the box” to meet campaign quote requirements, however

I challenge you to think about working smart, not just working hard. Seek quality leads over quantity of leads. Rather than having your telemarketers/agents make 150-200 calls per day at the industry success (appointment conversion) rate of less than 3%, make 50 great calls and convert upwards of 10%.

From many years in sales within the ICT technology sectors, often there was a disconnect in organisations between marketing leads handed over to sales representatives when there was little qualification that amounted to a waste of time in terms of actual real sales opportunity. Marketing had fulfilled their requirement to create demand with generating leads with one set of KPI’s and then sales teams would take a negative perspective on the types and quality of the leads given to them to follow up. Does this sound familiar?

What I challenge the marketing campaign providers and our clients on is firstly taking the time to appreciate the lead generation process, for example considering an outbound telemarketing campaign. We discuss what the typically sales cycle of the products/ services being sold is and then spending more time delving into more required skills and knowledge to operate on a quality over quantity basis for lead generation with higher value products and services.

Establishing rapport and trust with the prospect quickly over the phone through knowledge and conversational skill will contribute to being better able to qualify the marketing lead before handover to sales.

Summary

We’ve highlighted the need to explicitly outline your organization’s definition of a lead, between and across both the marketing and sales platforms within your business, even before your marketing or calling team even begins to reach out to prospects.

Ensure there is organization-wide agreement on what constitutes a MQL and the process(es) required to progress the lead to be a SQL (sales qualified lead) for effective and successful handovers from marketing to sales.

If you are interested in a progressive or different way to address effective lead generation, or open to exploring further specific new business development strategies, methods and processes from both a sales and marketing (smarketing) perspective, please contact us for a confidential discussion.

In the meantime please look out for our next related blog article later this week : Part 2: There are leads and there are leads – Good lead generation tips.

4 Key benefits of Inbound Marketing for lead generation

How can Inbound Marketing generate more leads consistently?

Inbound marketing may still be a new term to you, or it might sound familiar without you knowing quite what it means, and how it interacts with a traditional marketing model…

Inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.

Unlike outbound marketing, inbound does not need to fight for potential customers attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects and builds trust and credibility for your business.

 

Inbound-marketing
Quoted Source: https://www.hubspot.com/inbound-marketing

So what are the benefits of inbound marketing for lead generation, as a part of a broader marketing strategy and investment?

Here are some key areas to consider in generating leads with an investment in inbound marketing:

  • Organically sustainable higher quality lead generation

Inbound methodology is proven to increase digital online engagement from targeted prospects, throughout the stages of landing page visits to contacts to converting to customers. The ability to track and report allows for an automated lead generation method that reduces inefficiencies and the higher costs associated with traditional outbound marketing methods. As well as the cost savings, inbound marketing ensures time and people resources are used more efficiently and with higher rates of success.

Inbound process offers content-driven insights to help make ongoing assessments on digital marketing campaign budget and ROI across different social media channels. Once published, online content does not have an ‘expiry date’, and with some repurposing and shaping, the material can be designed to appeal on an ongoing basis to the target audience.

The most common challenge in the lead generation process is to gain more new contacts in order to generate more qualified lead conversions. Customizing content and writing towards a target persona or audience can initiate a new source of contacts and leads, including from new markets where you had no previous reach.

An example of this from one of our clients’ scenarios of where the content mapping process is key can be found here: Case Study: Digital Marketing Automation Process Improvement

Typically inbound content development needs to be an ongoing, organic approach to lead generation marketing, which complements other forms of marketing activities and channels. We recommend testing a campaign across three to six months in order to gain momentum, target, and track to establish a benchmark of KPIs and/or lead generation. Once the campaign and internal process is refined, then firmer KPIs can be determined.

  • Marketing automation streamlines lead generation process

Traditionally the cost of outbound telemarketing methods present a low rate of return, is resource intensive, and largely timing based for a push approach.

Digital marketing automation is the vehicle for delivering an inbound marketing strategy that eliminates the higher overheads of a traditional outbound call centre resource. It is less invasive and more personalised, and better suited to modern consumer behaviours throughout the buying journey.

Automated tracking of marketing activity provides historic reporting as well as selected and more personalised outreach strategies to attract the ideal prospects. These days, the key to marketing effectiveness is utilising data analytics to determine what is working and what is not, and presenting the data to enable management to make informed decisions about sales and marketing engagement, resourcing and budgeting process to drive growth.

  • Higher ROI from inbound marketing

Ongoing research supports the suggestion that inbound marketing automation generates a higher ROI than traditional outbound campaigns. Companies are 3x as likely to see higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound.

Inbound marketing is the dominant marketing strategy for companies with fewer than 200 people and has delivered proven higher ROI.

84% of small businesses are predominantly using inbound marketing.

Digital-Readiness-Assessment
Data from State of Inbound Marketing 2015
  • Reduced overheads from sales resourcing.

It’s typically challenging enough to secure or allocate budget in a sales and marketing department, or to justify a business case unless there is a guaranteed ROI.

The cost of headcount and FTE for experienced sales resources is prohibitive for many, considering both cash flow and timing-wise with a chicken and egg approach… do you build capacity and they will come, or sell first and build sales and marketing resourcing as you need it?

A transfer of budget to a highly targeted inbound marketing campaign may alleviate some of these challenges and disconnect, while delivering consistently well-qualified leads without the resource heavy requirements of the traditional outbound approach, and in turn a higher ROI. Inbound creates a smoother lead generation, nurture and handover process across the marketing and sales functions, and a more streamlined buyer’s journey.

For an independent review of one leading marketing automation tool in the marketplace, please read  Independent Review – Hubspot Marketing Automation Tool.

For an obligation free discussion or assessment on how inbound marketing could help boost your lead generation strategy and increase ROI, feel free to contact us at info@alchemiseconsulting.com

Digital-Readiness-Assessment