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How to transform existing old leads into sales-ready quality leads

Where most companies focus on lead generation, or, generating leads into the “top of the funnel,” most companies do not have an adequate system to handle non-sales ready leads. With the emphasis on new sales-ready leads, those leads that are deemed “not-qualified” now can very easily be qualified within 6 months to 2 years provided they are nurtured through their individual buying cycles. By nurturing, we mean communicating problem-solving content on an ongoing basis through email and or social media channels.

This guest post is brought to you by Paul Mosenson.  Paul is the Founder of NuSpark Marketing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Consider the following statistics from Sirius Decisions:

Only 20% of leads are followed up on

  • 70% of leads are disqualified due to budget, lack of timing, etc
  • 80% of “bad leads” do go on to buy within 24 months
  • 73% of companies have no process for requalifying leads
  • 80% of sales occur after the 5th contact

Where most companies focus on lead generation, or, generating leads into the “top of the funnel,” most companies do not have an adequate system to handle non-sales ready leads. With the emphasis on new sales-ready leads, those leads that are deemed “not-qualified” now can very easily be qualified within 6 months to 2 years provided they are nurtured through their individual buying cycles.  By nurturing, we mean communicating problem-solving content on an ongoing basis through email and or social media channels.  When prospects engage with a vendor by downloading content or viewing webinars, for example, they inch closer to their buying decisions and their “lead score” increases.  Once the lead score reaches a defined threshold, those leads are sent to sales for closing, because they are deemed sales-ready.  Without nurturing, leads leave the funnel, and those leads engage with competitors who provide value and content consistently.

What is described above is the concept of Marketing Automation, a “software as a service” platform that manages the entire leads-to-sales funnel.  Visitors are attracted to a website or landing page because of their needs or research (pay-per-click, SEO, internet ads, blogs, social media content). Once there, landing pages need to be optimized for lead capture (ideally a web form so emails and relevant data are captured). Once the initial email is received, those leads are sent relevant emails that link to additional content.  Email campaigns are customized based on lead activity and engagement, then scored, then sent to sales.  The entire process is measured for success or improvement.

The benefits of lead nurturing are:

  • Increase in qualified leads
  • Decrease in sales cycle
  • Decrease in cost of sales
  • Improved conversion rate
  • Increase transaction size
  • Increase marketing ROI

A fairly new technology, Marketing Automation systems are not just being utilized by fortune 500 companies, but can be used effectively by smaller and mid-size companies as well. There is a pre-conceived notion that marketing automation is overly expensive, but that is not the case.  There are many systems that are quite moderate in pricing, yet still perform well.

The main benefit for replacing manual lead generating processes with marketing automation is that it allows companies to reach out to potential customers in a timely, more efficient, manner.

Here’s a more detailed look at how marketing automation works:

  • A sound advertising and social media strategy is developed, and tactics like SEO and valuable content bring visitors to your website.
  • The website or landing page offers strong benefit copy and valuable content, and visitors fill out forms to become leads.
  • Based on the questions asked on the “contact us” web form AND website behavior (downloads, pages viewed), leads are automatically scored (a model defined before the system is in place).
  • Leads are segmented based on their score and enter various tracks for follow-up.  Following up with leads through email is called lead nurturing and includes links to additional valuable content such as white papers and webinars. Nurturing allows increased engagement of potential customers.  The more engaged they are, the more likely they will become customers.
  • Higher quality leads are turned over to sales immediately.  Lower quality leads remain in the system until additional engagement occurs.  In essence, salespeople receive less total leads, as they only receive the quality leads. When they can spend more time with quality leads, their time is spent more efficiently, they close more deals, and the revenue per deal increases, thus overall ROI increase.
  • By integrating with Salesforce and other CRMs, salespeople report their deals and win values, which then are reported within the marketing automation system, which in turn allows us to evaluate what media sources, messages, events or other tactics generate the most efficient quality leads and sales, thus an analysis of “cost-per-deal” can be done.

Marketing Automation is more than a glorified email program.  By tracking website behavior of prospects and putting them into lead nurturing sequences, you can truly provide them with unique messages based on their behavior. When messages are relevant, increased engagement occurs and the likelihood of sales increases.

The key reasons to adopt marketing automation into your business are plain and simple:

  • You have a need to increase new customer revenue
  • You have an opportunity to resell/upsell existing customers
  • You have the ability to engage with prospects with relevant marketing messages

Marketing automation won’t work properly if you don’t take these steps to make sure you’re ready:

  • Have an ideal customer profile
  • Know what the customers’ needs and issues are
  • Have a content strategy that maps out messages toward all levels of your prospect’s buying cycle
  • Understand the customer buying process
  • Map the content towards a “drip process” whereby the content is distributed throughout various touch points and delivery channels in a timely, ongoing manner
  • Ensure your current database is cleaned and optimized for the newer system
  • Have a specific editorial calendar grouped for each audience segment
  • Have a pipeline of content ready for implementation- white papers, case studies, webinars, newsletters, surveys, etc.  all written and designed.
  • Assignment of roles to those responsible for the activities- managing the platform, the content, and the measurement.

Does your company wish to stay in the past, or move into the future, and utilize your website as “another salesperson” designed to engage, nurture, and close prospects who visit your site because of what you have to offer and the trust you build?

Contact us for more information on marketing automation- what the systems are, what they cost, what the preparation is, and how it could help your business.

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