Are You Lost In A B2B Sales Lead Paradox?

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Posted: October 28, 2011 | Sales


Your B2B marketing department has done its job.  They’ve filled the funnel with sales leads.  The sales department followed through on the leads provided but somehow your close-ratios are dropping.  What happened?

This scenario isn’t unusual, sometimes leads fall through cracks or systems fail, but the important thing is to identify the weak links in your lead generation chain and avoid the blame game between opposite ends of the office.

If you are finding issues in your lead generation process, check these 5 reasons why you may be losing opportunities and what you can do to fix it:

1. Your Lead Scoring Is Off The Mark

The work you do on the front end has a huge impact on the back end of your sales process.  Nowhere is this more evident than in your lead scoring system.  If you don’t have a complete profile on who your ideal sales lead is, you’re basically throwing proverbial pasta against the lead generation wall and hoping it sticks.

Encourage regular meetings between sales and marketing to grade and adjust how your lead scoring is performing.  Make this a consistent part of your planning and you’ll not only stay on top of your fine-tuning, you’ll foster a stronger relationship between sales and marketing, as well.

2. Your Lead Nurturing Is Spotty

Once those prospects are in your sales funnel, they should be integrated into a well-timed, regular touch program.  If those leads you thought were hot are cooling down too often, then it’s time to examine how well you are continuing the conversation that started when they agreed to give you their email addresses.

Be sure you are covering these aspects of reaching out to prospects:

  • Contact them within 5 minutes of when they subscribe
  • Engage in at least 4 reach-outs to keep them interested
  • Don’t have your sales department contact leads before they are sales-ready

The process of lead nurturing puts a spotlight on the communication between marketing and sales.  If prospects sense a disconnect within the system, they’ll be less likely to put their trust (and their dollars) in your business.

3. Your Message Doesn’t Compel

The ideal content marketing message is one that provides relevant information, educates and compels readers to act.  That thread must weave through every piece of content, whether on your website and social media channels, in your blog or throughout your email marketing.  Without a consistent message, prospects will look elsewhere.

Above all else, decide what it is you want prospects to do.  Do you want them to download a whitepaper or sign up for your newsletter?  Tell them!  While there is a fine line between pushing and motivating, there is no substitution for a call to action.

4. You Don’t Understand How Your Buyers Think

You may be skilled at collecting names but a stuffed top of the funnel does not equate to the same amount of sales.  Your dwindling results may be due to the fact that you don’t understand how buyers think.

You need to understand the differences between latent and active buyers.  Some come in as hot leads and flow through the funnel quickly to sale but leads that need more time must be followed up with differently.

This goes back to lead scoring.  Do you know if your lead is a primary buyer or a contributor?  What is the culture in their company that may keep them from pulling the trigger?  The myriad of details that go into your buyer’s decision making should be top of your mind as well, so you can create a message that brings them value and a series of reach outs that fit their schedule.

5. You’re Not Keeping Track Of The Numbers

Industry stats indicate that 40% of prospects become leads.  But as we know, not all leads are created equal.  If you don’t know why your conversion rates are less than impressive, maybe it’s because you haven’t really looked at the numbers closely (or often) enough.

Your metrics should take into account conversion rates over time by type.  For example, do trade show leads perform better than pay-per-click (PPC)?  PPC leads may cost more but if they convert more quickly they may end up costing less per customer.

Throughout the sales process, the foundation to success is sales and marketing alignment. When marketing understands the prospects they need to find and sales gives feedback to which prospects became the best leads, then both can benefit from future forecasting based upon on-going results.

If you are experiencing cracks in your sales funnel mortar, go back to the basics and get both sides of the office on the same page.  You’ll see conversion rates and ROI that prove collaboration is key.

Need assistance identifying the hottest sales leads?  We can help with that.

Maria specializes in Inbound Marketing for Marketo, leading efforts in adoption of social media channels for brand awareness and demand generation. She has worked in marketing for over ten years, and specifically in online marketing including social media, search marketing, and lead generation and nurturing for the past six.

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Are You Lost In A B2B Sales Lead Paradox?

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