All B2B companies with a product or service to sell are looking to achieve one thing – to land a sale. And for the most successful sales and marketing teams these conversions will be the result of a well thought out and executed sales process.
The whole thing will run like clockwork - from generating and capturing the right type of leads in the first place; to nurturing potential prospects with interesting and tailored marketing content; before finally passing them over to sales at just the right moment. Then boom!......... the magic happens and a sale is landed.
But there is one common trap that teams can fall into along the way that could quickly impact on results and end up proving a costly mistake – and that is passing leads over to sales too early.
Putting the brakes on
Whilst it may seem like the best place to put any potential leads is in the hands of a highly skilled sales exec, there are going to be leads that will never, ever, be converted. No matter how skilled or experienced the sales person. And the last thing you want is for top sales execs to be wasting their time and energy on leads that were never going to go anywhere. Not only is that time that could be better spent but it’s a waste of the investment that’s been made in the sales team and its resources.
Often it can be possible to weed out such leads with a little more time, a little more digging, and with a tightening up of the way that leads are ‘qualified’. I.e. how you determine whether someone is a genuine prospect, has a real need at this time and is from a company of the right size/fit for your product.
Importance of downloads
One behaviour that is often used to qualify a lead is whether they have downloaded any marketing content. For example, they may have provided their email address to read a white paper, watch a webinar, or to download an advice guide.
It may be tempting to assume that anyone going to such efforts is likely to be a potential prospect. And the fact that they’ve shown such interest is a very positive sign. It’s given you a heads up that they like what you’re talking about and may want to hear more from you - big ticks all round.
But in reality people may show an interest in your content for all sorts of reasons, from students doing research, to job applicants checking out what you do, and even competitors keeping tabs on you. Plus the general population who may get drawn in by accident by a catchy headline or image.
And even if they’re the right type of person from the right type of company, just because someone likes what you’re talking about now, doesn’t mean they’re a potential lead. They may just find you interesting! Or it may not be the right time so a sales call could actually scare them off.
So it can be very risky to read too much into it, especially if you’re looking at it in isolation and without any other information or indicators that they’re a hot lead.
Strengthening your qualifying process
It’s always a good idea to regularly review, refresh and improve every part of your sales process. How you qualify leads is a major part of this and here are three key things to think about:
- When did you last check and update the way you qualify leads? Has the process been updated in line with wider company goals, and any changes and innovations that have been made?
- How are you monitoring and measuring the success of your qualifying methods as part of lead nurturing? How closely are you working with sales and other teams for their feedback, ideas and input?
- Are you optimising your efforts with new technologies and digital tools? There are so many clever tools available now that could help you along the way, for example by automating areas of your marketing, meaning you never miss an opportunity and can more clearly spot patterns and indicators.
While it may take you some time and a bit of fine tuning to get the qualifying process just right, (and then of course to keep it current) the benefits will far outweigh your efforts. And the better your process the better the leads and chance of success for your sales team. So they’ll be able to aim, fire and go for it, with the confidence that they’ll not be faced with a barely warm or completely cold lead again.
You may also be interested in reading Is there ever such a thing as a dead lead?