This is part four of our series Marketing in the Service of Sales — about how marketing professionals can demonstrate to their sales counterparts and the rest of their organization that they bring real value to the table as an equal partner in the marketing-sales relationship.
We frequently talk with sales reps who rely entirely on their networking, connections and referrals to make sales. They tell us that spending their time engaging with these "near-in" prospects is the best way to close a deal or secure a purchase.
It's a good thought. But as marketers, we can expedite their efforts and improve their productivity. Even better, we can increase both lead volume and quality. In fact, with the right tools and processes, the marketing team can actually be far better equipped to identify, qualify and prepare a prospect for conversion than the sales team. In doing so, marketing demonstrates real value to the sales team, which elevates marketing to an indispensable partner.
As your marketing campaigns generate awareness and interest, the best way to identify a lead that may be closer to becoming a customer is to look at who they are and what they're doing:
Activities like these may classify them as a marketing qualified lead (MQL).
You'll want to work closely with your sales team to list the demographics, activities and behaviors that you believe make for an MQL at your company. Based on these definitions, you can then assign point values based on specific activities or behaviors to the different leads you generate. That way, you can easily identify when a regular lead becomes an MQL.
From there, your marketing outreach should be focused on engaging the prospect in a way that makes them ready to talk with sales, essentially turning them into a sales qualified lead (SQL). The kinds of activities that indicate an MQL is becoming an SQL can include:
- Returning to your website to consume new content
- Opening your emails
- Participating in webinars
- Requesting a sample
You should also be looking for a negative action or lack of engagement that would indicate the prospect has become less interested in making a purchase. This will reduce their overall score, and should result in decreasing or eliminating marketing spend against this prospect.
Beyond Lead Generation
Once a qualified lead is handed over to a sales representative, marketing can play a big role in helping prepare them for in-person conversations — by arming them with data they've gathered through the process, including:
- Which content they consumed
- What they downloaded
- Their pathway from MQL to SQL
These are excellent indicators of specific interests the lead will have in mind when it comes to whether or not to choose you over a competitor.
Taken together, these actions ensure you are delivering high-quality leads and proving your value to the sales team by helping to improve their productivity and sales numbers. Most importantly, it better aligns sales and marketing in achieving their goals.
Stay tuned for Part 5 — Programmatic Media Buying for B2B Lead Generation