Nothing irritates salespeople like unqualified leads. Marketers never intend to waste their sales team’s time, but without a conscious effort to source, qualify, and nurture potential buyers, marketers can’t know whether a prospect will buy or flake.
Multiple studies have shown that sales reps struggle with prospecting even more than closing or qualifying. When marketers do the heavy lifting in the early stages, salespeople can focus their energies on the tasks they do best (i.e., selling) without worrying about whether their time would be better spent on other leads.
Use these five best practices to prime prospects for productive conversations with salespeople:
1. Use lead scoring.
If you can’t compare one lead to another, you can’t determine whether your lead generation strategies work. An increase in lead quality frequently translates to a significant boost in sales productivity. Before you start your next campaign, create a lead scoring process to evaluate your prospects.
Several tools can help you translate lead strength into hard numbers. Your sales and marketing software solutions probably include some lead scoring capabilities already, but if not, consider adding some new tools to your arsenal. When you can help your sales team differentiate between leads ready to buy and leads who need more convincing, they can arm themselves with the knowledge to adjust their strategies and increase their success rates.
2. Create content triggers.
Lead scoring doesn’t just help salespeople — you can also use your lead scoring system to boost lead strength before you get the sales team involved. As prospects browse your site or engage with you on social media, they take specific actions (watch videos, click links, etc.) that tell you how interested they are in your products and services. By using content triggers when prospects take different actions, you can encourage deeper engagement with your brand and guide prospects from interest to intent.
Keep customers’ needs in mind as you build your content trigger machine. Someone who opened one email may not be ready to discuss price, while someone who downloaded two whitepapers and followed you on LinkedIn could use more actionable details. Remember to update your content triggers as you refresh your content — nothing will turn off a prospect like outdated or inaccurate information.
3. Provide hard numbers.
Marketers, especially those in B2B industries or other high-priced markets, get gun-shy when it comes to talking about price. Don’t let your fear of chasing prospects away prevent you from bringing qualified leads to your sales team. Prospects who have already engaged with your content should have an idea how much your services will cost before they talk to someone. Otherwise, you risk putting your salespeople in awkward positions where they feel compelled to sell to people who don’t have the budget to buy.
If you don’t feel comfortable putting it all on the table, start by A/B testing your pricing in marketing communications. What happens when some prospect groups receive pricing information while others don’t? Follow your leads closely to see whether a potential drop in quantity leads to higher closing rates for your salespeople. Use that information to target similar groups and widen your qualified audience.
4. Leverage social proof.
Not many people, especially among B2B buyers, want to buy something before anyone else has used it. Prospects want to see evidence that others have purchased and benefited from your products and services before they trust you with their cash. Provide that evidence by leveraging social proof via case studies, client testimonials, and reviews to put their minds at ease.
When 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their own friends, you know your word isn’t enough. Get your fans in on the action by asking them to leave reviews. Interview your best clients and turn that information into case studies and video testimonials. The more people see others thriving in their partnerships with you, the more willing they’ll be to buy.
5. Get the first commitment.
If marketers could finish sales before prospects talked to sales teams, salespeople would be out of jobs. You can’t close the sale on your own, but you can get the first commitment from your prospects to make life easier for the next person.
Use more specific calls to action in your bottom-of-funnel marketing communications to strengthen your qualifying process. Instead of using phrasing like “Request More Information,” for example, you might use “Speak to a Representative.” A/B test these phrasings in email subject lines and on landing page buttons to see whether stronger language helps your sales team have more productive conversations.
While you shouldn’t make your prospects feel rushed or uncomfortable, you can’t send lukewarm leads to your sales teams and expect to facilitate their success. Get specific about your value proposition to make it easy for prospects to increase their engagement with your brand. You may feel hesitant at first, but your salespeople will thank you for the increased lead quality that follows.
Your success as marketer depends upon your ability to help your sales team sell. Find out how to “Do More with Sales Enablement.”
Serenity Gibbons is a former assistant editor at the Wall Street Journal and a New York University alumna living in California. She is the local unit lead for NAACP in Northern California with a mission is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. She enjoys writing and interviewing people who are making a difference in the world.