How to Ensure Your Team is Focusing on the Right Prospects

79 percent of all marketing leads never convert into sales. For all of the good work marketing does in producing content and engaging website and social visitors, only 21 percent of leads are any good.

That doesn’t make good reading for sales reps. More than three-quarters of their time is wasted chasing prospects that have no interest in investing in your product, resulting in lost productivity, missed targets and low conversion rates. Three things that massively impact a company’s bottom line.

So why do sales reps spend the majority of their time on the wrong leads?

There are three reasons:

  1. The target audience is wrong, resulting in the wrong type of leads being generated
  2. Leads aren’t being properly nurtured
  3. Sales prospects aren’t being correctly qualified

Generating the right leads

Attracting the right prospects is only possible if you’re going after the right audience. A butcher or meat wholesaler, for example, has little chance of success if they’re marketing to vegans and vegetarians. They need to target meat eaters. But not only that, they need to target meat eaters with interest in meat, a need to buy meat and the budget to pay for it. Like, say, steakhouse owners or fast food establishments.

The right leads come from tailored content based on your ideal customer profile (ICP) — a fictitious version of a client or group of clients (sector and vertical specific) that finds value in your business and gives you value in return by spreading the good word about your product.

As a business, the ideal customer can be found by examining your own data, gathered from successful sales, website and social interactions, customer reviews and complaints, lead capture forms and instant demos.

Questions to ask when building an ICP include:

  • What type of company is a suitable fit for your product?
  • What is the size of the company?
  • What kind of revenue does it have?
  • How many employees does it have?
  • Which industry do they operate in?
  • Where are they located?
  • What problems do they have?
  • Can your product help solve the problem? How?
  • Why would they choose you?
  • Why wouldn’t they choose you? What’s stopping them from buying?
  • What features do they need in a product?
  • What kind of budget do they have?
  • Who makes the purchasing decisions?
  • Where do they conduct their research?

A clear idea of the ideal customer will shape your entire marketing strategy, allowing marketing teams to focus on businesses and decision makers with an active interest in what you do and the products you offer.

Nurturing Leads

Around 77% of the B2B buying process is complete before the buyer even speaks to potential suppliers. Prospects find a lot of the information they need via business contacts, your website, blogs and social channels, as well as through videos, customer reviews and online communities. However, there’s always room for nurturing. In fact, it’s essential.

Despite the info at their disposal, only a small percentage of leads make an immediate purchase. The rest need to be warmed up — properly sold on what you have to offer.

According to Hubspot research, nurturing tactics marketing teams should be focusing on are:

  • Targeted content — content that finds the right people, at the right time, based on the ICP
  • Multi-channel nurturing via email, social media, marketing automation, paid retargeting and customised web content
  • Multiple touch points including content on blogs, social media, white papers, email and direct mail
  • Follow-ups — contact made to inbound leads within five minutes are 21-times more likely to enter the sales process than contact made in 30 minutes
  • Personalised emails that add a human touch and include targeted content (rather than a generic greeting and content) generate six-times higher revenue
  • Lead scoring to help prioritize leads based on the value they offer and how likely they are to convert. This helps rank prospects in order of who isn’t worth pursuing, who needs more nurturing, and who is ready to purchase
  • Sales and marketing alignment — having sales and marketing teams both contributing to the nurturing process at different stages of the funnel. For example, marketing can work to engage prospects through content, while sales can nurture directly through instant demos and follow-up calls

Qualifying Leads

The right prospect is someone that fits the ICP and has shown a lot of engagement and buying intent. They might have filled in a web form, spoken to your team via live chat or requested an instant demo. They will have completed the nurturing cycle, have a clear idea of the solution they need, and the budget to pay for it.

If the lead meets that criteria it’s a qualified lead. If not, then it’s not yet the right prospect and shouldn’t be passed from marketing to sales.

For the hottest prospects to move from marketing to sales, and then to sales reps, everyone must be clear on what “qualified” is.

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) must fit the shared definition, before being passed on to sales where it is vetted and signed off as a sales qualified lead (SQL). This ensures only the best prospects, with the greatest likelihood of converting, are passed on to sales reps for calls and online sales meetings.

Companies that embrace lead nurturing and qualification produce better prospects and higher conversion rates. Gathering information from interested leads, for example by using instant demos, can deliver the data required for building customer profiles and producing targeted content while providing the ideal solution for nurturing prospects and closing sales.