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Marketing’s Like Love: How Rejection Leads to Success

Imagine you’re having a night on the town with someone special. Both of you have just met, but your vibes click and you think you like each other. At the end of the evening, you promise to meet again and put your numbers in each other’s phone. You even make plans for that all-important “next time.” But flash forward two weeks—and total silence. No texts returned. Frozen out. It would seem that after all that wooing, they’ve spurned you. The match is now a miss, and you’d give anything to know why.

In this way dating and marketing have something in common: an inherent risk (if not certainty) of rejection. Just as paramours work together to convert a ‘meet-cute’ into ‘something more,’ sales and marketing must work together to convert a prospect into a customer. Just as dates are investments of time and money, so too are nurtures and campaigns. But while a crush can reject someone with no rhyme or reason, sales can’t reject a lead without giving an explanation. That explanation is owed to the marketing team, and it should be given to them in the form of a rejection code.

Rejection codes are a system that salespeople can use to easily record why they’ve chosen not to pursue a lead. Ideally, BDRs should be able to select a rejection code from a dropdown menu in their CRM software. (A dropdown menu is best practice in this case, because it encourages standardized input.) The codes should be predefined, evangelized through training. And as complement to this, the business should decide what happens to leads that are rejected. Are they never to be contacted again? Do they disappear from the database after a certain amount of time? Are they redesignated as a prospect, top of funnel? The proper course of action must be defined, and it should be connected to the reason the rejection occurred.

Push ‘Reject’ In Case of Emergency
Leads can be rejected for a wide range of reasons, but in marketing we do have a handful of known culprits. A common cause is BANT; namely, that the account’s budget, authority, needs, or timeline just wasn’t compatible with the solution being sold. Another common reason: competitors. Peer companies in the same sector can come in, outpitch you, and swoop away your leads with a more attractive offer.

Sometimes your primary point of contact at a company will leave—and with them, leaves the surefire ‘in’ that sales had to closing the deal. Sometimes, depending on how fast (or not fast) a deal is progressing, BDRs can even find that market conditions have changed. Again, as in dating, the reasons for rejection can be disturbingly endless.

Collaborative Codes
When sales receives an MQL from marketing, it assumes it’s getting a lead of a certain quality, with details it can use to push that lead through the funnel. And when this doesn’t happen, or is not able to happen, sales has to say why so that marketing can revisit that lead and other leads like it. This is why many companies choose to channel rejected leads back to marketing. It helps marketers sharpen the tools in their arsenal, in hopes of lessening the number of future rejections.

Perhaps lead quality and lead scoring can be improved, through methods such as optimization testing or by adding more data sources. Perhaps the marketing team can drill down into its segments and make more compelling, precise new segments or mini-segments. Maybe qualitative research is in order, or a closer examination of leads’ online body language. Marketing can only find the solution when it knows the reason sales has rejected.

More Accountability
But the onus is not all on marketing. Salespeople, too, have much to gain from using rejection codes. By having to record the reason they chose not to pursue certain MQLs, BDRs can be held more accountable for how they manage accounts. We all know (even if we don’t want to admit it) that it is a not uncommon practice in the world of sales for BDRs to get a lead, analyze it, determine it would be challenging to close, and walk away because they don’t want to hurt their ‘batting average,’ so to speak.

Rejection codes help discourage this behavior. When you know you’ll have to explain your actions and define your logic, you’re more likely to make choices that are in line with what you should be doing, from a moral standpoint and business one. Now, salespeople aren’t children—a rejection code isn’t mean to punish or intimidate. Rather, it should encourage BDRs to think deeply before discarding a lead. In the end, this can only be a benefit everyone at the organization.

In modern marketing—as in love—rejection is natural. Failure is a part of the process. It’s how we respond that determines our capacity for turning these negative outcomes into positive ones. It’s OK for leads to be rejected. What’s not OK is for teams to have no understanding of the causes behind rejection. Only through knowing the causes can sales and marketing work together to make better leads, and close more deals, in the future.

Image Courtesy: Flickr/Charos Pix

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