Only through a good collaboration between marketing and sales can you turn a stranger into a visitor, a lead and then, ultimately, a customer. We’ve discussed that the marketing and sales departments often misunderstand each other, with jargon and agreements not communicated well.
There are some common questions: what steps should the marketing department take before a lead is sent to sales? And what should sales do if they find out that a lead is not quite ready to make a purchase? When this happens, marketing and sales do not match each other — there is a gap. So what is missing?
The answer is simple: organization in regard to marketing, sales and intermediate leads, or, in other words, lead management.
What is lead management?
Lead management closes the gap between marketing and sales. The process from prospect to lead, to marketing-qualified lead (MQL) to sales-qualified lead (SQL), and eventually to customer: all these steps fall under lead management. It is important to understand and define lead management in both the marketing and sales department to ultimately achieve higher revenue, especially when it comes to B2B marketing.
There was once a clear division between the marketing and sales department regarding the different phases of a contact; now, there is an overlap. Prospects, leads and MQLs were the responsibility of the marketing department. SQLs, opportunities and customers were the responsibility of the sales department.
Prospects and leads are still the responsibility of marketing, while opportunities and customers stay with sales. The changes are in between: the MQLs and SQLs. These teams have to work together to get the lead through these two stages of the pyramid.
There are four steps that can be taken to successfully apply lead management, ultimately bridging the gap between marketing and sales.
1. Define leads
Defining leads is more than one sentence. It is about the requirements and features both departments think a lead should have. This is recorded in an SLA (service-level-agreement).
What does the marketing department think of when they hear the word “lead”? Which requirements does the sales department think a lead needs to meet before it gets sent from marketing to sales? What is the difference between an MQL and a SQL? Furthermore, how many leads are required to meet the determined revenue goal?
2. Feed leads
In a streamlined organization, where marketing and sales work well together, marketing has to sift through all the leads to find and send only the best ones to the sales team. In most organizations, this is only a small percentage of the total number of leads. It is therefore important while feeding leads to keep adding database contacts with whom your organization works.
Leads that are not ready yet to purchase a product or service can be nurtured with content. By offering the right content at the right moment, you help the lead take the next step in the buyer journey and get them closer to a purchase. Lead nurturing results in an interesting dialogue with the lead based on their needs and interests.
3. Score leads
To determine which lead is a potential buyer, you can give leads scores. Lead scoring provides a clear insight into qualified leads. Think about demographic factors as well as the company and their function within that company. Does your lead reside in Belgium, for example, but you target the Dutch market? In that example, the lead will get a lower score than a lead from the Netherlands.
These are not the only factors that are taken in consideration in terms of lead scoring. It’s also crucial to know how often someone has visited your website, what this person did on your website and if there are signs of interest (e.g. downloading a whitepaper).
Lead scoring has not one but two goals: first, it should prevent leads from being “harassed” by salespeople if they are not ready to make a purchase. Second, the sales team can work much more efficiently when provided with leads that are ready to purchase.
4. Use lead management and software
Keeping track of lead management manually is feasible if you work for a startup or a small company with limited customers. For companies with a larger customer base, however, it is a lot more challenging. A lead’s activity changes every day – and so does their score. Several marketing automation tools, such as Hubspot, have been developed to not only keep track of leads more efficiently but adjust and measure as well.
A lead scoring system ensures you take less of a gamble in determining which leads are qualified and which ones are not. Tools such as Hubspot enable you to assign scores based on certain features or actions. As soon as a lead takes a certain action, e.g. downloading an e-book, the lead automatically receives points. You can also implement alerts: when a lead has accumulated a certain score, it will be forwarded to sales.
Measurable and accountable
The first step of lead management is compiling a service-level-agreement (SLA), which is done collaboratively by the marketing and sales departments. The two need to not only collaborate in the beginning but also during and after going through the lead process.
Be sure to debrief the departments: Have the goals been accomplished? Are both the marketing and sales departments content with the results? In other words, the actions taken need to be made measurable and accountable.