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Sales Funnels & Lead Nurturing: A Tale of a Sales Lead - Part 2

Sales Funnels & Lead Nurturing: A Tale of a Sales Lead - Part 2

We left off in Part 1 discussing some pitfalls companies run into with needing more sales leads or needing more sales. And the philosophy at Concept is that successful businesses need to lead nurturing and have a full sales funnel in order to grow the bottom line.

Different Parts of the Sales Funnel

Top-of-Funnel Leads

You often hear everyone talk about top-of-funnel leads. Top-of-funnel refers to prospects becoming aware or interacting with your business in some way. Top-of-funnel prospects often are not familiar with your company, product, or service. However, you have limited time to make a first impression, create a higher level of interest, and perhaps move them further down in the funnel.

Outbound calling, paid search, email marketing, SEO, and form fills generate leads of all types and quality. You dictate the type and quality of leads you want. If someone meets your criteria but not ready to buy today, they are extremely worth staying in front of. If they meet your criteria, the chances are they buy and use a product and/or service like yours. You simply need to be in front of them when they are ready to buy. That is why qualifying leads is so important and moving them through the sales funnel. Utilizing a lead scoring model that reflects how many actions or which actions take sales leads from an information-qualified lead (IQL) to a marketing-qualified lead (MQL).

You have already spent the time, effort, and dollars to identify a prospect who buys your product or service. Wouldn’t you like to have an entire database of companies that use products and services like yours? If you did, that means every call you make, every email you send, and every video or blog you post, is being put in front of people who buy your product or service.

Middle-of and Bottom-of-Funnel Leads

Lead nurturing takes marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and converts them to sales-qualified leads (SQLs) – or moves them from the top-of-funnel to the middle-of and bottom-of-funnel. The time required to do this is different for each prospect. Effective lead nurturing increases our odds of being at the right place at the right time and is a critical component of a strong sales process and sales engine.

Nurturing leads are validated by proof and reporting, not by sales rep’s feedback. Too often, sales leaders determine the quality of their leads and their lead nurturing based on what their sales reps say. Follow-up steps and actions must be documented in CRM by the sales reps. The sales reps must be very detailed as to what steps they took following up the lead, phone conversations they had with the prospect, email exchanges, documents submitted, etc. This information will be used by back-end sales automation and nurturing processes to continue nurturing the lead until it is completely disqualified or elevated to a ready to buy status.

It is this type of sales process that increases the odds of being at the right place at the right time. It is this type of sales process that improves your sales pipeline. It is this type of sales process that decreases the highs and lows of sales. And lastly, it is this type of sales process that increases overall sales.

Other Sales Questions to Keep in Mind

Lead nurturing will have a positive impact on overall sales. Successful lead generation combined with thriving lead nurturing will improve sales. However, these are not the only areas we need to address. There are other areas to address and questions we must ask. Other areas and questions to consider why your business needs more sales are below. These questions just scratch the surface – for now.

  • Are my sales reps effective at following up on the initial lead and talking with the prospect? Before you answer this question, remember, the question is not asking if your sales rep is qualified, knowledgeable, seasoned, technical, and trustworthy. The question is asking, are they effective at following up on a lead and talking with a prospect?
  • Are they effective at establishing your company’s product/service as a viable option for the prospect?
  • Can they establish trust and creditability quickly in front of the prospect?
  • Would you buy from all your sales reps? Be honest?
  • Remember, no matter how good your product or service is, if your sales rep is not effective at communicating, conducting an effective sales call, establishing creditability and trust, and differentiating themselves from all the other sales pitches the prospect receives, you will not get an opportunity to be at the right place at the right time, when the prospect is ready to buy.
  • Am I allocating my sales and marketing budget the most effective way I can?
  • Am I prioritizing and allocating dollars to all the key areas of sales including marketing, lead generation, lead follow-up, and closing sales? Notice I did not include account management in this list. I do not include account management as part of sales. I will save my thoughts on that topic for another blog.
  • I am not suggesting you need to spend more money, but simply evaluating how you are spending your current budget.
  • Do I have the right person managing my sales and marketing efforts?
  • Are they current and proactive?
  • Are they creative?
  • Do they understand CRM and actively use it?
  • Do they have experience managing processes, people, content, messaging, and more?
  • Is CRM implemented in your organization?
  • Are you utilizing CRM for all its features and benefits?
  • Are your sales reps using CRM according to best practices?
  • Is CRM working for you?

Many companies are hoping they can implement a lead generation program that can generate sales-qualified leads that quickly turn into closed-won deals. I think this is the route most companies go because it is the path of least resistance and the easiest path to take. Addressing other areas of the sales process and sales engine to increase sales requires confrontation, effort, skillset, and change. We often hope, want, and fool ourselves that there is an easier way. We hope that easier way is simply sending more leads to our sales group.

The next time we say, “we need more leads”, stop for a moment and say, “we need more sales.” Saying “we need more sales” results in a different course of action than saying “we need more leads.” The statement you make will dictate the direction you go. The statement you make will dictate whether sales increases or not. Regardless of what statement you make, lead generation and lead follow-up must be part of it. However, what comes next will be the difference.

As a quick health check, provide the following brief survey to your Executive Leadership, Marketing, Sales Development, Sales Leadership, and Sales Reps to gauge lead follow-up alignment:

  • What is our current qualified lead criteria?
  • What is the lead follow-up process executed by Sales after a lead has been turned over to Sales?
  • What information needs to be logged in to CRM when following up on a lead?
  • Who is responsible for nurturing leads that do not result in an immediate sale?
  • What is our process for following up on leads that do not result in an immediate sale?

“I need more leads.” “We just need more leads.” “If you can simply put my sales reps in front of qualified prospects, they will close them.” “We just need to be in front of more companies.”

No…you need more sales.