What Is Best Practice When It Comes To Lead Generation And Conversion Into Sales?
Steve Heuring, a partner at Seattle-based tech marketing and strategy specialists Audienz, outlines five key approaches to achieve digital sales acceleration.
With research suggesting that digital marketing spend in the US will reach $146 billion by 2023 and growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9%1 it is clear the extent to which businesses are using marketing automation tools to help execute targeted, multi-touch campaigns. The ability to measure ROI, reach, click-through rates, and landing page conversions that feed new leads into the marketing funnel have made it a particularly attractive way of monitoring the early phases of a buyer’s journey.
However, converting marketing leads into qualified sales opportunities remains a common challenge. While marketing and sales teams may both want to drive revenue growth, there is frequently a disconnect in the approach the two teams take. Not enough businesses have yet recognised that by connecting their marketing and sales functions they will be better able to raise the customer experience and increase sales.
Map your sales journey
Marketing and sales teams often have different perspectives on the customer journey, even if their objectives are the same. Marketing may view the customer journey in an automation platform, but once that lead becomes an opportunity it goes into a CRM system where the sales team views the information. This risks creating a disconnect between the two, both in terms of visibility and in how the teams operate. It’s critical for the marketing team to know the company’s sales process; to understand sales roles and pipeline stages so that they can design a customer journey that moves from awareness through to purchase. Similarly, the sales team needs to know the history of the lead and have access to as much information
as possible about the journey the prospect has taken.
The customer, of course, only has one journey. Creating a customer journey map that covers the entire experience from initial awareness through to purchase can be incredibly useful, particularly if it shows both the customer’s experience alongside the internal perspective on tactics and roles involved across the marketing and sales process.
Look for buying signals
It’s really important to genuinely understand who constitutes your target audience; the job roles and titles you want to target; their goals and objectives, and the challenges they face. Quick-turn research via interviews and focus groups can help you understand the state-of-mind of target customers, which, in turn, should help you develop messaging that resonates and builds credibility with that audience.
The key to getting to qualified opportunities faster is to set up ways of measuring the prospect’s propensity to buy. This is about determining where they are in their journey – are they researching the market; evaluating which products or services to buy or are they actually ready to make a purchase. The answers will determine whether to nurture the lead or move them into the opportunity stage of the sales funnel. Here are a few proven tactics you can use to capture this information:
- Incorporate a short survey into your campaign and include a simple question to ask where they are on their buying journey
- In the registration form for gated content, include an optional question about where they are in the process
- Use chatbots on landing pages to make it easy and instantaneous for prospects with purchasing questions to connect with you
- Always include a “contact me now” option in the buyer’s path
There are also AI-enabled prospecting data solutions available that can predict readiness to buy. These tools are increasingly effective at connecting marketers with targeted audiences that have a high propensity to purchase.
Inspire direct engagement
Campaign activity offers useful data for personalizing prospect engagement. For example, those who downloaded a white paper on one subject might respond well to an invitation to a short online workshop on the same topic.
An effective way to inspire your target audience to engage more directly is inviting them to exclusive “roundtable” events. This helps establish trust and deeper engagement by enabling prospects to join in a discussion with their peers around common challenges they face and best practices for addressing those challenges. For example, a company offering data security solutions could host a roundtable for Chief Security Officers to discuss industry challenges around cloud security.
Another way to reduce the barrier to direct engagement is to invite groups of prospects to “immersion sessions” to get hands-on with overcoming blockers and driving toward their desired business outcomes. For example, Audienz helped a client identify that a major blocker for prospects buying cloud solutions was the lack of a clear roadmap on what happens after they make a purchasing decision. Together, we developed a “Create Your Cloud Roadmap” workshop, to engage in hands-on, immersive road mapping sessions with prospects.
Reinvent the offer
There is a reason many offers involve discounted pricing. They are often very effective. This is an important part of the offer strategy, and it is worth the effort to assess your competitors’ offers and make sure yours sets you apart.
But, beyond pricing, in B2B technology many purchasers prioritize other criteria, such as ease of deployment or the ability to customize their solution. Technology sellers can offer a lot of value by taking a consultative view. Consider offers for free or discounted technical services such as deployment consulting and training.
How you communicate the offer is critical. Pricing and offers for technology products can often be complicated. In many cases, communicating the offer in a clear way and helping customers navigate the offers available to them is as important as the offer itself. It’s important to spend the time and effort needed to develop effective offer communications that can be used by both marketing and sales teams.
End To End Measurement
A key part of accelerating sales in your campaigns is how you track and optimize results. It is helpful here to create a view of your buyer’s journey that includes the metrics you use to measure success at each phase. Even if marketing and sales data resides in two different systems, creating a simple overview will keep you on top of what optimizations need to be made to your campaign tactics. When developing campaign reporting, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with data, so prioritize the metrics that are most informative and that you can act on.