The No. 1 reason SMB companies abandon their lead generation strategies is that they don’t believe they got results. Companies invest time and money, but when they look back on their sales results, they can’t attribute closed sales directly to campaigns. Marketing qualified leads aren’t a metric. Closed sales is the metric. But when the marketing qualified leads aren’t converting into the sales pipeline, there are no sales to close.
Why aren’t more marketing leads converting into sales opportunities?
If everyone knew the answer to that, sales pipelines would be fatter. Companies would close more net new business, sales reps would be richer, and business owners would be smiling all the way to the bank.
Why Marketing Leads Don’t Convert
In all seriousness, when your marketing leads aren’t converting, there are 5 reasons, and most are a result of how your sales team approaches your leads.
- There are no words. This is the most common concern we hear from reps when we pass marketing qualified leads. “What do I say when I call?” Because they didn’t make the first approach, salespeople are often fearful they’ll say the wrong thing. Unless it’s an inbound lead that includes some information, reps don’t know how to start the conversation. The call feels exactly like a cold call to them.
- What follow-up? Few contacts will answer on the first call. Many salespeople will make one attempt, maybe two, then give up. Reps expect that a contact who has clicked through and read their content, downloaded a checklist, or viewed a video, will be magically waiting for them to call. That’s not the case and without a follow-up plan, the 90% of prospects who don’t answer the first call become dropped leads.
- Email. Email has become the preferred prospecting approach for most salespeople. In their mind, an email is the equivalent to a call – sometimes even better. With email, a prospect can reply quickly. Well, a prospect can hit “delete” even more quickly. Since most contacts still listen to at least part of a voicemail, calling leaves a more lasting impression.
- Target who? When you design your campaign, you want to frame it around your ideal target market with a clear picture of the contact you’re approaching. Many times, this information isn’t communicated to Sales. When the salesperson receives their marketing qualified leads, they don’t know enough about the target market to have a meaningful conversation. Prospects don’t see any value in meeting and the lead doesn’t convert.
- Failure is the only option. Marketing qualified leads get a bad rap from reps. If salespeople haven’t had success converting them in the past, when new ones come in the door, reps expect the leads to be bad and never pick up the phone to call. This is when you begin to hear how they’ve got too many other things to do and can’t you hire a telemarketer to call instead?
How to Convert Marketing Leads
You can overcome each of these challenges with some planning. Recognize that you or your reps may be reticent to follow up on marketing qualified leads, and develop a strategy to break past the concerns. Here are 5 ways you can convert a higher percentage of your marketing qualified leads.
- Plan the conversation. Be sure you’ve reviewed the campaign content and use it to plan what you’re going to say. Don’t expect that your prospect will remember a particular blog post or video. Instead, recognize that it was the topic of the campaign that the prospect cared about. That’s what you want to lead with.
- Create a Bloodhound Follow-up strategy. That’s what we call it in our prospecting training! Know how many times you’re going to call, email, drop by, and reach out on LinkedIn before you give up. Then, don’t really give up. Throw the contact back in the campaign. If they’re really interested, they’ll bubble up as a lead again.
- Ban emailing. Okay, you can’t ban it because email should be part of your follow-up strategy, but break past the phone phobia and PICK UP THE PHONE. Make it a requirement to call every marketing qualified lead at least 3 times before throwing them back in the campaign. Depending on the type of campaign, you may decide you should keep calling until you reach a contact and have a conversation.
- Share the details. You do great strategy work when you plan your lead generation campaign. Be sure your sales rep knows the target market and persona details. When we complete a lead generation strategy, we lead a company meeting to share it so the reps know who we are targeting and why. Not only does it improve their campaign follow-up, it changes how they’re selling on a daily basis. Pull those details out of the drawer and use them.
- Change your perception. Marketing qualified campaign leads are contacts who chose to click and read, view, download or attend something you sent them. They are not a guaranteed appointment. They are a show of interest. They allow you to call, learn a little more about the contact, and start a relationship. Maybe the prospect needs help right now, maybe not for a while. Approach these leads from the perspective that 10% of them will convert to an appointment. The rest are future opportunities. That’s not failure. That’s the sales job.
Get your reps past all their complaints (they’re really fears) about their marketing qualified leads and help them pick up the phone. The more conversations you have, the more appointments you set. The more appointments you set, the more new sales opportunities convert into your pipeline. Guess what happens if you have more opportunities in the pipeline? Yup. Eventually you smile all the way to the bank.