Access to better data and analytics is reshaping consumer and client expectations for the products and services we buy and the partners with which we work. Thanks to Uber, we now expect on-demand local travel with real-time data and analytics as to ETA’s, routes, and fares. Electronic banking applications have almost eliminated our need for visits to the bank and have created expectations for instant mobile deposits, transfers, and fund growth insights.
Inbound Marketing’s ability to generate and track quality leads for Sales has created new expectations for businesses marketing online. Companies expect access to detailed reporting and analytics demonstrating growth in sales and revenue as it relates to marketing activities. It is no longer sufficient for digital marketers to simply provide “more traffic”, “more awareness”, or “more exposure”. Companies have the expectation, and rightfully so, that their marketing partners will prove how these activities are affecting the bottom line in terms of new revenue, leads, and customers. This expectation is so strong that, according to a survey of CMO’s conducted by Hubspot, spending on marketing analytics was expected to increase by 60% by 2015.
So we all understand that it is vital that Inbound Marketers are providing tangible leads and opportunities for new business to the companies with which they work. Unless the Marketers are also involved in the sales process, providing qualified leads is generally the best end result possible for the Marketer. It is now up to the Sales team to process, contact, and close these leads.
The question I pose to companies considering or engaging in any online or digital marketing is this: Do you have a process in place to manage and contact incoming leads from your marketing efforts?
At first glance, most companies will answer, “Of course we can handle it, too many leads for our Sales team is a great problem to have!”. However, this problem is not so great if your company does not have a process in place or the resources necessary to effectively manage and turn these Inbound leads into new customers.
Before considering Inbound Marketing with the expectation of closing new leads, consider these questions:
What is the relationship between your Sales and Marketing teams?
Inbound Marketing provides an excellent opportunity for a rich dialogue to occur between Sales and Marketing as to the quality of leads being produced. Oftentimes the relationship between the Sales and Marketing teams is strained due to a lack of transparency and communication. Salespeople are frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of quality leads to pursue while marketers deem the Sales team as lazy or ineffective for not closing the leads provided. In fact, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified.
To ensure a successful relationship between Sales and Marketing, create a calendar or process that allows for both teams to provide consistent feedback and input as to the quality of Inbound leads. If the sales team feels that too many of the leads are unqualified as realistic prospects, it could be time for the Marketing team to use more targeted messaging to weed out unqualified leads or revaluate the criteria that must be met for a lead to be passed to Sales. If Marketing is sending quality leads to Sales only to see them stall out and not convert into customers, it is time to evaluate the Sales team’s process and cadence for calling and following up on Inbound leads. Only when an open and helpful dialogue occurs between Sales and Marketing, will you see your Marketing team or partner generate more qualified leads at a lower cost and your Sales team turn a higher percentage of these leads into new business.
Can your Sales team handle a consistent influx in new leads?
The dynamics of a company’s sales team are contingent upon a number of factors including company size, industry, and product or service provided. Often in small businesses, salespeople share a variety of responsibilities and some companies may not have a dedicated sales person or team. Larger organizations will generally have more defined and structured sales teams but there is no guarantee that there is a process in place to effectively handle incoming sales leads.
Take a good, hard look at your current sales team before investing in a process that will provide them with more leads to work. First, ensure that you have the manpower to successfully contact and follow up with Inbound leads in a timely manner. Next consider what tools you are providing your team to stay organized and in contact with these leads. A CRM (Hubspot offers a great free one) is key in ensuring your reps are able to manage leads in an organized fashion and providing managers with transparency into the sales funnel. Without a process that creates accountability for Sales to call and close leads provided by Marketing, your marketing and lead generation efforts will not provide a positive return.
Will your Sales team follow up with Inbound Leads?
Contrary to a salesperson’s wildest dreams, leads do not close themselves. A common misconception among companies engaged in Inbound Marketing is that when a lead comes in through their website or some other online channel, there is little left to do besides call the lead and take the order. It is important to understand that the same effort and follow-up required to close leads from outbound prospecting is also necessary when closing Inbound leads.
Remember that 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up while 80% of sales require 5 follow-up phone calls after the meeting. Here at AdVision, we require a minimum of 5 follow-up phone calls and 5 follow-up emails before moving on from an Inbound lead. Create a uniform cadence of follow-up calls and emails for your Sales team to use when responding to Inbound leads. See below for an example:
1st Attempt: Call, email, social, connection
2nd Attempt: Call, email, subscribe to newsletter or blog
3rd Attempt: Call, email, LinkedIn request
4th Attempt: Call, email, comment on social post
5th Attempt: Break-up voicemail, break-up email, pass lead to Marketing
Companies investing time, money, and resources into Inbound Marketing have an expectation that these efforts will provide new leads and closed business. Inbound Marketers and internal Marketing teams should have an equally strong expectation that the leads they provide to Sales will be contacted in a timely manner, followed up with value added, and contacted multiple times. Develop a roadmap for each lead that your company collects to determine what steps it will take to turn the lead into a customer. You may realize your Sales team and process could use some tweaking to prepare for your fresh Inbound leads.