In our increasingly digital world, there’s no shortage of channels or tactics for generating sales leads today. Chances are your company is investing more in digital marketing than ever before and you’ve collected more data about your prospects than you can digest. You know that your leads are out there, but it’s quite difficult to identify the high value leads from the low value ones.
Getting high quality sales leads is a challenge facing the entire B2B marketing industry. According the 2016 Demand Generation Benchmark report, 83% of B2B marketers said focusing on lead quality over quantity was a priority for 2016, a rise of 10% from last year.
As B2B marketers ourselves, we feel the pain. Here are five strategies we’ve implemented to help us increase the quality of our sales leads.
Determine the quality of leads based on what you need today
Every business is different. It’s important that your definition of a sales-ready lead fits with the unique circumstances of your company. Coming up with this definition isn’t something marketing should tackle alone. Instead, bring your sales leaders into the process.
Defining a qualified lead is a moving target. You’re always trying to strike a balance between quality and quantify. As our company had discussions about lead quality, we wrestled with these questions:
Is our current buyer’s persona too strict that we are missing out on qualified leads?
In most B2B purchase decisions, there are multiple stakeholders who influence the decision. If you’re only focused on just one of the stakeholders, you’re missing the opportunity to influence the other people who need to be onboard. At Socedo, as we’ve learned more about the stakeholders for our own product, we’ve become more intentional in addressing each of their needs and objections, both in sales conversations and in marketing content.
Are we giving our salespeople too many leads?
Many marketers send every single lead they capture to sales. But you may be sending salespeople too many leads that they simply don’t have enough time to follow-up with each one. If this is the case, you may want to tighten your definition of a sales-qualified or sales-ready lead. At our company, we’ve re-calibrated our lead routing process every few weeks because we’re growing so quickly.
Are we getting enough feedback from our sales team?
Your sales team can tell you why your product won in certain cases and lost in others. Ask them to share their insight on why certain customers churned. This will help you make decisions about how you position your products and engage leads with content. You may need to make changes to your product positioning or create new content offers if you learn that you’re pushing too many of the “wrong” people through the sales process.
In our own company, we’ve learned a lot by analyzing why some of our early customers churned. We’ve found that most of the churned customers were either early-stage companies that didn’t have the foundation necessary to use our product successfully or B2C companies. Knowing this, we’ve shifted our marketing messages to attract to B2B marketing organizations that have marketing automation and CRM systems in place.
Use social media along with other channels to warm up your leads
We’ve found Twitter to be a great channel for cultivating warm leads. On Twitter, you can browse people’s profiles and read their tweets to get an idea of whether they’d be interested in what you’re selling. The content of the tweets including hashtags, keywords as well as people’s engagement with other users give you indications of their interests, needs and business pain points.
With these signals, you can start a conversation. Send a prospect a direct message that references a person’s expressed interest in your market or product and then link to an article they’d find relevant. If these people follow you back or respond to your message, it means they’re interested in hearing from you and may be good leads.
At Socedo, we’ve found that socially engaged leads are our best leads and we’re using social media activities data as a starting point for building out email campaigns that accelerate our sales cycle. You can register for our upcoming webinar on June 7th to learn more about how we proved that socially engaged leads are our best leads.
While Twitter provides a conversation-starting channel, prospects still need more touch points with your brand before they’ll trust you and consider your product. To turn prospects to sales-qualified leads, they need to be nurtured.
Nurture leads through multi-touch email campaigns.
We’ve found that by pairing email drip campaigns with targeted social media touches, we could increase our email engagement and conversion rates significantly.
At Socedo, we use our own product to send prospects direct messages (DM) on Twitter. In our DM, we typically invite these prospects to one of our upcoming webinar or a blog post they may be interested in. Twenty-four hours later, while Socedo is still top of mind, we follow up with these leads with an introductory email.
In our experience, we’ve achieved an average 44.1% open rate and 6.0% click-through rate on first touch emails to social leads. That’s double our typical email engagement rates to cold leads from other channels.
If you want more ideas on how you nurture your leads through emails, take a look at our
Incorporate real-time behavioral data in your lead scoring model
Developing a lead scoring model is essential if you want to improve the quality of your leads. Lead scoring gives you an objective way to determine where to focus your time, so you can spend time on the leads with the greatest revenue potential.
As you develop or refine your lead scoring model, make sure it’s not missing any important behavioral data. Most marketers’ lead model captures behavioral data in the awareness, research and consideration phases of the buyer’s journey. But few marketers consider the activities that signal interest at the very top of the funnel.
Social activities provide the best indicators of top-of-the-funnel interest. People often express their initial interest in a product or vocalizes a pain point on social media, providing a real-time view of who is interested in your product. Those who are tweeting about your brand or competitors are warm leads you should follow up with right away. With real-time data on the social media activities of leads in your database, you can create new trigger campaigns in your marketing automation system. Here are some ideas to consider:
- If someone follows you on Twitter, add them to a nurture program for a more proactive subscription of your content.
- If someone on Twitter mentions a specific problem or topic that your product addresses, add them to a program with product feature content and case studies.
- If someone tweets about a competitor, send an alert to their sales rep or account manager. The sales rep can mention the recent tweet as a personal conversation starter.
- If you’re sponsoring an event, search the event’s hashtag and see if any of your leads are using it. You can invite the leads who mention the event to your booth for a demo or to attend your speaker session.
The second benefit of using social data in your lead scoring model is that it has the most up-to-date demographic data about your leads. Because social profiles are updated by the user themselves you can assume a high degree of accuracy, in job title, current company and location.
Create a feedback loop between marketing and sales
To see if you’re truly making progress in increasing your lead quality, make sure to get qualitative and quantitative feedback. Two core metrics will show you if your lead quality is improving over time: the length of the sales pipeline, and the rate at which leads convert. If you’re sending higher quality leads to sales, you should see the time it takes to close these leads decrease. You should also see that a larger proportion of leads sent to sales turn into customers in a given timeframe.
Don’t forget to gather qualitative feedback. For most small and medium organizations, it’ll take you a while to collect enough data to validate your hypothesis about who makes for better leads. Ask your sales leaders what their team’s experience has been with leads from marketing. The anecdotes from sales about wins and losses should inform your process and be the basis for new ideas.