When running any kind of marketing effort, businesses must be able to measure what is working and what is not. When those marketing initiatives are not generating a large enough return on investment, businesses need to know how to alter them accordingly to make them successful. It is important to understand the differences between the various types of leads an organization will run across and what steps take place at each point in the B2B sales cycle.
When B2B marketing campaigns are broken down into these buckets, your organization is at a greater advantage to pinpoint where issues may lie and address any necessary changes. If your organization is having a number of inquiries that aren’t helping the lead generation efforts, perhaps you are attracting the wrong type of buyer. If your B2B lead generation marketing efforts are contacting a lot of prospects, but nothing is converting to a sales handoff, you may find that your database of prospects is lacking.
As leads move through the funnel and the sales teams are unable to convert leads to closed business, it could mean that the product offering is off, or too expensive, or perhaps is not competitive in the marketplace. Measuring these four metrics will provide the guidance organizations need in order to generate the desired outcome.
At the beginning stage in the lead qualification process, businesses will typically find hand raisers, or prospects from an outbound marketing program that are mainly trying to learn more about your business. This means your organization successfully made some sort of initial impression from an ad, trade show, email marketing, or some other marketing effort.
If your organization is running a marketing automation tool, you will most likely start to build some sort of point system for tracking this prospect. They may even start to download marketing materials from your website which will allow your organization to obtain the prospect’s contact information. Inquiries will provide very little in terms of overall lead generation, other than proving that the current marketing initiatives are doing enough to generate interest in your organization.
Marketing Qualified Leads
Through various means, your organization was able to convert an inquiry to a prospect that can now be contacted. Marketing qualified leads are prospects that are vetted through a lead generation program. Records and databases are cleaned where duplicates are removed and uninterested parties are dispositioned. Leads that are not quite ready are nurtured while being managed by this group until they are ready to move forward in the sales cycle.
In telesales, a lead generation rep has contacted the prospect and determined if the prospect’s needs fit within the defined lead criteria. The telesales rep will also verify the decision making process with the prospect, determine if the company is able to address the prospect’s pain, and see if there is any interest in having a further conversation with the sales team.
Having solid marketing qualified leads will help with lead fallout later in the sales pipeline. They will also help strengthen the relationship between marketing and sales and lead to a better sales handoff. Tracking how many marketing qualified leads that have been secured and transferred to sales will help businesses more accurately forecast the sales pipeline.
Sales Qualified Leads
Once a marketing qualified lead is passed to sales to close, sales must be sure to work the lead in an appropriate timeframe so that it does not become stale. The sales team will know very quickly after contact with the prospect, the strength of the lead and whether or not the lead criterion has been met. At this point, businesses can examine what is working in terms of the marketing lead generation efforts. If there is a change that needs to take place, that feedback can be quickly addressed and the marketing lead generation efforts can be altered to generate stronger results.
Once the prospect is contacted by the sales team, the lead evolves to a sales opportunity coming one step closer to closed business. The more sales qualified leads an organization has, the greater the chances of closed revenue. Tracking the sales qualified leads will help determine if possible improvements need to be made in your sales force and how your overall business is doing.
If you are finding that a number of leads are falling out in this stage, you may need to revise the sales pitch or address any sales training gaps. You may even need to analyze the strength of your product offering as it may not currently meet the needs of your target market and you may need to make some adjustments accordingly.
If you’re seeing closed business, then your sales and marketing groups are obviously doing something right. The amount of closed business your organization has will tell you how successful your overall sales and marketing campaigns have done.
Items to look for after closed revenue include what was the conversation rate from start to finish? From the beginning of the funnel, how did you fill your sales pipeline and how long did it take? Where did the majority of your leads come from – referral, cold calling, inbound or outbound marketing, etc.? Measuring these results will give your organization insight as to what is working and what isn’t, and the ability to accurately adjust any existing programs accordingly.