Maximizing lead conversion to win more deals

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Angie Hirata
Angie Hirata

The lead conversion black hole has long been cause for dispute between marketing and sales teams. Marketing will argue it has generated leads and given them to sales. Sales will complain that leads aren't qualified. The challenge is to achieve what everyone wants: improved sales revenues through qualified leads.

First, it's essential to break down the wall. To bridge the divide, marketing needs buy-in from the sales team when designing campaigns and involve them as stakeholders for improved lead generation. Involve the sales team in planning. When embarking on a marketing campaign, ask the sales team to review target lists and identify current customers for testimonials.

Define a qualified lead and work with sales to agree on defining which leads are passed to sales. Also, be sure to communicate. Ensure sales understands timelines and key messages for corresponding target markets. Provide guidelines regarding follow-up.

It's also important to have a dedicated leads team. Hiring staff dedicated to qualifying leads will bridge the sales and marketing divide. Leads team is responsible for calling all new leads within a set time frame and for qualifying and nurturing them until they are passed to sales. Configure your CRM system to standardize lead processing.

Use lead or task module so that call-to-action items automatically appear for the appropriate member of the Leads Team and next steps and deadlines are clearly identified. Create a standard list of lead qualification questions to assess budget, authority, need, and timeline to help representatives understand and define customer needs. And standardize and update your lead status.

Create lead status and rating categories to indicate the stage of the lead and use standardized rating terminology.

You should also define a lead nurturing process. Not all leads are ready to buy immediately. Stay in touch with organizations by building the following tactics into your CRM system.

Segment and target your communications. Segment leads based on product interest, use of the product, industry/vertical, buyer role, etc. Create an ongoing, category-specific communications program to help them better understand the value of your product and offer.

Design campaigns that drive action so that you can identify leads that are still interested. The call-to-action, e.g., an event or podcast download, must include a web form or other mechanism to track the activity back in the CRM system.

To ensure leads are followed up and passed through the lead cycle in a timely manner, utilize your CRM solution to monitor the time frame in which tasks are completed.

Establish system alerts for representatives and managers when new leads do not have a leads team representative assigned, when new leads are not contacted within 48 hours or when a passed sales opportunity does not include forecasted date or revenue.

You also need to calculate your ROI. For example, if your lead generation campaign costs $10,000, and your product brings in $1,000 in net revenue, the campaign is only successful if it produces at least $1000 x 50 new orders.  Best practices put a 5x or 10x ROI success criteria.

Identify your disconnects because leads can go stale at any stage in the conversion and/or sales cycle, it's critical to know when they drop out. Within the CRM system, each lead should be associated with a specific marketing program or campaign.

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