Everyone knows that in order to make sales, you need leads. Without leads you’d have no one to actually sell to. But what most people don’t know is that there’s a world of difference between someone who makes an inquiry and an actual lead that will convert to a sale.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
In most companies, the marketing department creates some masterful works of marketing – emails, banner ads, even maybe some billboards to catch people’s attention while they run through an airport or commute down a highway. If well created, these marketing pieces drive people to the company’s website and cause them to peruse the products and information on display.
Bam. You have leads. But what kinds of leads are they?
Well, in truth, you don’t have leads quite yet. You have inquiries. As Brian Carroll of the B2B Roundtable Blog explains it, of all the people who show interest in your company and your products, only 5-15% are actually sales ready. It’s up to your people to uncover who can be nurtured and turned into a customer.
By analyzing their behavior as they peruse your site, you can identify the Marketing Qualified Leads who are interested enough to be fed into your sales funnel and eventually turned into Sales Qualified Leads who can be passed on to the sales team to convert.
If you were to skip the MQL → Sales Funnel → SQL step, you’d be handing a ton of unqualified leads off to the sales team who then would have to make countless useless calls to potential customers who aren’t ready to buy or were never really all that interested in your product before finding the ones ready to convert.
First things First – Defining what leads are to your teams
Once someone who has made an inquiry has been deemed to be a legitimate potential lead, it’s up to the marketing team to nurture them along through a carefully created sales funnel to move them from interested status to ready to convert status. Only then should the lead be passed on to the sales team so they can close the deal.
Therein lies the rub. That tipping point isn’t going to be the same for every company. It’s up to your teams to work together to come a consensus about when a lead should officially be passed from one team to the other.
Yes, work together. Yes, we went there.
Because the collaboration between the sales team and the marketing team is what makes this whole process truly useful.
Ideally the marketing team and the sales team would sit down and discuss what a sales person needs to know about a potential customer in order to feel like they’re a qualified lead that they’ll be able to convert and what a potential customer needs to know about the product to be ready to buy.
Not all leads being sent from Marketing to Sales are going to meet the desired criteria, but by starting the process by having this discussion the leads sent to the sales team are going to be of a higher quality and will convert more consistently.
It’s also important to note that this process is not a once-and-done kind of thing. In order to keep the teams operating in each other’s best interest, the teams should meet quarterly to review how the definition is holding up and if the leads are meeting the expectations defined.
Moving from Conversation to Converting
Once your sales team and marketing team have come to an agreement about what a qualified lead looks like, it’s time to create a sales funnel or a website experience that, step-by-step, pulls the pertinent information from potential customers all while sharing key selling points.
With the use of marketing software like Hubspot, your marketing team can gather lead qualifying information that can help them determine exactly how ripe the lead is for conversion. Each person moving through the sales funnel is awarded a “lead score” that will help the marketing team know when they’re ready to be bounced over to the sales team.
The Be All/End All Goal
The ultimate goal of lead nurturing from MQL to SQL is to hand a lead to the sales team at the ideal time – not so early that the potential customer isn’t quite ready to buy, and not so late that they’ve lost interest and have moved on. It saves the sales team precious time, increases sales and revenue, and equally importantly, ends up being a better customer service experience for the person who, you hope, will grow to be a satisfied customer.