By: Scott Wright and Jack Bowen
In the relentless pursuit of growth, businesses often find themselves at a crossroads - a bustling marketing funnel generating a stream of leads, yet somehow, the path to conversion seems elusive. One study found that 71% of potential customers are not contacted, while only 13% of potential customers become opportunities.
Indeed, the sheer volume of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) becomes inconsequential without a robust and efficient system to usher them into the sales pipeline. The perennial challenge is how to bridge the gap between leads and conversions.
For many B2B (or even certain B2C) enterprises reliant on a sales team for closures, this struggle isn't unfamiliar. The quest for high-quality leads often feels like chasing a mirage. We've delved into strategies to refine your marketing funnel and increase leads, but the spotlight now shifts. It's time to navigate the complex maze of lead follow-up, scoring, and conversion within the sales funnel.
In this chapter of our series, we're steering the discussion toward the critical link between the marketing and sales funnels. Picture this: a marketing engine tirelessly churning out leads, but what comes next? How do we seamlessly transition these leads into a well-oiled, automated sales funnel that not only nurtures but effectively converts? That's precisely the journey we're embarking on today.
As businesses strategize for 2024, aligning marketing and sales funnels becomes essential for converting leads into successful sales. From decoding the pivotal sales funnel metrics to employing lead-scoring best practices, synergy is not just beneficial but critical in today's fast-paced market. This final article in our 7-part series provides a comprehensive approach to ensuring that your marketing efforts and sales strategies are harmoniously aligned for maximum impact and profitability.
1. Build Your Marketing Funnel for Leads and Conversions
Crafting a prosperous marketing funnel goes beyond mere lead generation; it involves meticulous nurturing and qualification of these leads for the journey towards sales conversion. Each phase of this funnel, from the initial awareness stage through interest, desire, and culminating in action, demands meticulous attention. The key lies in customizing every step to gently steer potential customers toward that crucial purchase decision.
Analyzing the funnel's effectiveness mandates a comprehensive inspection of various facets: the impact of content, the depth of user engagement, and the conversion rates residing within each stage. These critical evaluations serve as a beacon, illuminating areas that demand enhancement and transformation. Through this scrutiny, invaluable insights emerge, providing a roadmap for strategic improvements and optimizations.
2. Identifying B2B Sales Funnel Inefficiencies
The transition from marketing qualified leads to closed sales is where many companies face challenges. To enhance this transition, it is crucial to identify and address points in the B2B sales funnel where prospects may disengage. This could be due to a lack of relevant information, delayed follow-ups, or a misalignment between the sales pitch and customer expectations.
Evaluating sales funnel metrics will help you with streamlining the sales process, ensuring consistent communication, and fine-tuning the sales pitch and can significantly improve conversion rates.
3. The Crucial Role of Timely Lead Follow-up
Absolutely, promptness in responding to leads is pivotal for conversions. Studies consistently reveal that companies responding within the first few minutes post-lead acquisition experience notably higher success rates in engagement and eventual conversions. This immediacy showcases a proactive approach, signaling genuine interest and responsiveness to potential customers' inquiries or needs. Implementing automated response systems or employing dedicated personnel for swift follow-ups can be a game-changer. Such systems acknowledge leads instantly and initiate the engagement process promptly, enhancing the chances of maintaining the lead's interest.
This speed to lead becomes infinitely more important when it comes to digital leads. According to one study, businesses that respond within an hour are almost seven times more likely to have meaningful conversations with decision-makers. Wait 30 minutes – an eternity in the digital marketing universe – and your follow-up becomes 21 times less effective. And the fastest responders win the deal up to 50 percent of the time.
That’s why training sales teams to prioritize prompt follow-up is indispensable. It's not merely about speed but the quality of response as well. Teams equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge and an understanding of the lead's requirements can offer tailored and impactful interactions. This reinforces the company's reliability and establishes a rapport, potentially leading to increased conversions. The ability to swiftly address queries or provide relevant information demonstrates a commitment to customer needs, fostering trust and positively impacting the overall conversion rates.
4. Best Practices for Lead Follow-up
Consistent and timely follow-ups are key in nurturing leads toward a sale. It's recommended to follow a structured approach, combining emails, calls, and possibly automated reminders, to keep the lead engaged. Personalizing communication based on the lead's previous interactions and interests can also enhance the effectiveness of these follow-ups.
Chris Marin, CEO of Convert.AI, writes in Forbes that such personalization is a critical element to success. Even a voicemail requires a nuanced approach in which Martin recommends these five steps:
5. Leveraging Lead Information
Using the data collected from lead forms is critical for effective segmentation and follow-up. Following best practices for lead scoring, ranking leads based on their sales readiness and potential value, can help prioritize and tailor follow-up efforts. Though the use of CRM systems can automate the sales funnel for much of this process, there are some essentials that you won’t want to overlook.
For instance, you may want to ask the company name, industry, title, or what they are inquiring about in addition to getting their first and last name, email address, and phone number. Be careful with the number of fields. In general, the more fields, the lower the conversion rate. Also, determine which fields are required to submit the contact form and which are optional.
6. Nurturing Leads to Conversion
Effective lead nurturing involves a mix of automated marketing communications and personalized outreach. A strategic sequence of emails (we recommend at least four to five unique email touchpoints), complemented by phone calls and personalized content, can keep the lead engaged and moving forward in the sales funnel. Intermix phone call outreach tasks between each email. Don’t give up until you have reached out and/or emailed at least eight times.
Finally, put cold -- non-responsive -- leads on a monthly newsletter to stay top of mind and to have the opportunity to engage them with something relevant your company is offering. Regular assessment of the nurturing process and content effectiveness is key to optimizing this strategy.
7. Training and Equipping Sales Teams for Sales Performance
Sales teams need to be well-versed not only in the product or service they're selling but also in the nuances of modern sales techniques. Continuous training, role-playing scenarios, and up-to-date product information are sales performance essentials – helping to keep the sales team agile and effective. Equally important is ensuring they have the tools and resources needed to manage and convert leads efficiently
8. Monitoring Sales Funnel Performance
Regularly monitoring and analyzing sales funnel metrics is crucial for understanding its effectiveness and identifying areas for improvement. Metrics such as lead conversion rate, average time to close, and customer acquisition cost provide valuable insights. This data can inform strategic decisions and help fine-tune marketing and sales efforts.
Build Your Marketing Funnel for Leads and Conversions
Crafting a marketing funnel that focuses on nurturing and qualifying leads for sales conversion, emphasizing the importance of customizing every step towards the purchase decision.
Increased lead quality and conversion rates through a well-crafted marketing funnel that guides potential customers effectively to purchase.
Identifying B2B Sales Funnel Inefficiencies
Analyzing the transition from marketing qualified leads to closed sales to identify disengagement points and optimize the sales process.
Improved conversion rates by addressing inefficiencies, ensuring consistent communication, and aligning sales pitches with customer expectations.
|Timely Lead Follow-up
|Emphasizing the importance of quick response to leads for engagement and conversions, including implementing automated systems and trained sales teams.
Higher engagement and conversion rates through immediate and quality responses to leads.
Best Practices for Lead Follow-up
A structured approach to lead follow-up, combining various communication methods and personalization.
Enhanced lead nurturing and conversion likelihood through personalized and consistent follow-up strategies.
Leveraging Lead Information
Utilizing lead form data for effective segmentation and follow-up, employing best practices in lead scoring.
Prioritized and tailored follow-up efforts leading to more efficient conversions.
Remember, though the economy may whipsaw, there’s no substitute for a well-reasoned and contemporary approach to marketing to beat back the impacts of market volatility.
In this series, we have explored the multifaceted aspects of strategic business planning for 2024. Focusing on integrating marketing and sales funnels, we’ve underscored the importance of a cohesive approach to lead management and conversion. Putting in some extra effort at this phase will help you optimize your approach to market forces, competitors, and customers who are loyal to your products and services.
As we conclude, we encourage businesses to apply these insights, ensuring that every marketing effort is effectively converted into sales success.
Remember, we’ve worked with many businesses like yours to develop strategies, build organization and technical capabilities, and execute marketing and sales to create growth engines. The result is a new growth trajectory and the capacity and capability to deliver that growth ongoing. If we can help, please reach out! You can learn more about us or contact Scott Wright here and Jack Bowen here.
About Chief Outsiders:
Jack Bowen and Scott Wright are Fractional Chief Marketing Officers with Chief Outsiders, a national fractional CMO and CSO consulting firm. Bowen is an engaging, roll-up your sleeves leader who draws on 20+ years of C-level marketing leadership and growth experience with significant expertise in data-based, direct-to-customer (B or C) performance-marketing, driving both topline and profitability throughout – acquisition, conversion and sales operations. Wright has decades of executive leadership experience leading B2B and B2C businesses to accelerated growth across numerous industries. He works with CEOs and leadership teams to develop customer-centric strategies for brand differentiation and awareness, effective targeting, lead generation, customer experience, and the repeatable processes and core capabilities that create a foundation for sustainable growth.
Together, they are part of a team of more than 120 seasoned and battle-tested Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Sales Officers who have guided over 1,850 B2B and B2C companies across more than 70 industry verticals.
Chief Outsiders executives have the experience to help businesses quickly figure out how to accelerate growth. They work alongside CEOs as members of the leadership team to develop strategies, build organizational and technical capabilities, and execute marketing and sales initiatives that create growth engines. Contact us today to accelerate your growth. Learn more about Scott Wright here and Jack Bowen here.
Full series on strategic business planning:
Partner & CMO