Chances are if you’re reading this blog, you’re in charge of leads for your company. If you’re on the marketing team, you’re likely responsible for delivering quality inbound leads to your sales team. If you’re on the sales team, you’re accountable for new business – and probably don’t care where the leads are coming from as long as they’re hot! If you’ve identified yourself in either of these roles, read on – this blog is for you, and you won’t be disappointed by the tips I’m about to give you.
When it comes to transitioning leads from marketing to sales (and more importantly closing deals), aligning inbound and outbound marketing efforts is critical.
Outbound marketing – What is that, you ask? By its simplest definition, outbound marketing is sending a unified message out through TV ads, cold calling, trade shows, etc. Often sales prospecting falls in this category. Inbound marketing is more about earning people’s attention through quality content creation, SEO, social media engagement and more. Aligning both inbound and outbound marketing efforts helps increase efficiency and decrease time/money spent nurturing a lead. Moving in different directions (with different messaging, calls-to-action, goals) is time – and money – wasted.
So, how can you get your sales and marketing teams aligned to increase the efficiency of your prospecting efforts? Below are 6 immediate ways to get started:
- Set up interesting moments in your Marketo Instance
Marketing – Make sure you set these up for all moments you think Sales would like to know about – when a user completes a form, opens an email, clicks a link, etc. By setting up interesting moments, you’re enabling your sales team to “sign up” for alerts – it will help them follow up on inbound leads more quickly.
Sales – Make sure you sign up for alerts! Or, at very least, take a look at the Marketo Sales Insights “Interesting Moments” tab in your Salesforce instance before you reach out to a lead or prospect. Looking at the interesting moments tab is a “cheat sheet” for knowing exactly what major, important actions a contact has taken with your company. It prevents you from “cold calling” someone who has shown interest in you already.
2. Pay Attention to Activity Alerts
Marketing – Lucky for you, if you’ve properly integrated your Marketo and Salesforce instances, activity tracking is a native feature that will automatically populate within the Activities tab in the Marketo Sales Insights box in Salesforce (without extra set up). Marketo monitors each individual’s browsing history, and information is stored for both known and anonymous visitors. Once an anonymous person completes a form on the site, all their previous browsing history becomes visible to you and your sales team. Pretty cool!
Sales – Similarly to interesting moments, activity alerts prevent you from “cold calling” leads who have taken action on your website. Activity reports are more granular than interesting moments, because they include all types of activity a user has taken (important or not). It will show you exactly which pages a lead has visited, how many times a lead has been to the site, which emails they opened/clicked – any small detail you could every want to know. By referencing these small details in your initial conversation with a prospect (“We noticed you’ve spent quite a bit of time on our site” or “We see you’ve shown some interest in our social media white papers”), you will position yourself as a valuable resource (not just another salesperson).
3. Set up Lead Scoring – BUT continue to tweak it
Marketing – Lead scoring falls on the shoulders of the marketing team, as it requires a separate program to be set up within Marketo. The beauty of lead scoring is that it helps you hedge an educated bet on which leads are most engaged with your company and services. By combining demographic & behavioral factors (and scoring leads on each), marketers and sales teams alike can better qualify leads. Marketo offers an AWEOME “Big List of Lead Scoring Rules” that will help your team get started, but the key is to just get started.
In the beginning, make sure your inbound and outbound marketing teams work together to outline factors deemed important to a deal closing – industry of the prospect, title, etc. Then discuss online factors that could contribute to a prospect being engaged – emails opened, links clicked, pages visited – or no engaged – lack of emails opened, visits to specific pages (like the Careers page), etc.
Based on historical data and input from sales, create a scoring model unique to your business. Once you feel confident you have a solid lead scoring model in place, activate it then start monitoring your leads very closely. See which leads are hitting your score threshold, how long it takes them to hit the threshold and be sure to follow up with sales to see if leads with high lead scores are in fact qualified. Lead scoring is an ever-evolving process that requires sales and marketing to share feedback on a regular basis. (Just for reference, in the past year, Fathom has already tweaked our scoring model 3 times – and we’re headed for a 4th!)
Sales – Use the Marketo Sales Insights “Lead Scoring” tab to quickly see the lead score of a prospect, and how they reached that score. And be sure to give honest feedback to your marketing team when you receive “hot” leads that have hit a lead threshold deeming them to be qualified! The more insight you can give your marketing team on the quality of leads, the closer your company will be to creating a smooth lead scoring model. At the end of the day, the goal is to work together to make sure marketing leads have been nurtured long enough – but are handed off to sales quickly enough – so that your team is addressing the needs of the prospect at the right time. If it takes too long for a lead to hit the “score threshold”, it’s possible you’ll miss a window of opportunity to reach out to the prospect in the late stages of their buying cycle. If the lead transfers from marketing to sales too fast (because they reached the lead threshold so quickly), you might be calling someone prematurely, and run the risk of closing out an opportunity before the person even has time to mature in the buying process.
4. Segment Leads by Title & Lead Score
Marketing – When creating forms on your website, strongly consider adding “title” as a lead field. This is important because it will help your sales team qualify & prioritize outreach. It also helps your sales team understand how to reach out to leads, and what to say. C-level executives and specialists or strategists care about very different things, and have different motivations for engaging with your brand.
Sales – By segmenting all inbound leads you receive from marketing by title and lead score, you’ll better prioritize your outreach efforts. It’s a good idea to create two outbound messaging cadences – one for hot leads (good title, high lead scores) and one for not-so-hot leads (lower lead scores, missing information, irrelevant titles).
5. Determine Length of Outreach
Marketing – As sales is executing their outbound marketing plan, it’s important to check in on weekly or bi-monthly basis, to see what type of response they’re getting from the inbound leads. These responses will help you tweak your lead scoring model. If sales is having difficulty connecting with leads, it’s possible the leads progressed too quickly through sales funnel (and you may need to tweak your lead scoring model). A practical example: At Fathom, our outbound marketing team gave our inbound team feedback that most leads they tried contacting were not responsive. In digging deeper, they found it was because the activity that increased most of their prospects’ lead scores was largely centered on email opens. As a result, the marketing team decreased the number of points given to email opens (and implemented regressive scoring for leads that opened a certain number of emails without clicking). The problem was solved, and sales connection rates started to increase.
Sales – General outbound marketing best practices are to reach out to a lead between 4-8 times. Our suggestion, based on what’s worked well in a B2B environment, is to reach out to hot leads 6 times (over the course of 6 weeks – calling, followed up by an email) and not-so-hot leads 3 times (over the course of 3 weeks). Since these are inbound leads, the prospect has already raised a hand and shown interest in your brand. Your job is to find out how interested. If the contact doesn’t respond in 3-6 weeks, chances are they were simply looking for content, not a company to do business with. In this case, you might consider adding them to a recycled bin (see #6). Outreach length and messaging can vary dramatically (by industry, service, company) so be sure to test your cadences and tweak as necessary.
6. Set up a Recycling Bin
Marketing – Recycling bins are an awesome campaign type to utilize as part of your inbound and outbound marketing efforts. As you probably are aware, best practice when creating nurturing campaigns is to NEVER send a lead backwards. Once a lead progresses through a nurturing stream and is deemed qualified enough to pass along to sales, the lead should not be entered back into the same stream. The reason is because that initial nurturing program had one goal – to engage the prospect until they were ready to talk to sales. So what happens when one of these leads talks to a salesperson but isn’t ready to pull the trigger on a sale? Enter the “recycling bin”. Recycling campaigns are great for situations where sales in unable to connect with an inbound lead, or have connected but were told the lead was not ready to make a purchase. Setting up a recycling program, full of messaging designed to re-engage prospects over the course of a few months (or even a couple years, depending on the length of your sales cycle), is a great way to keep that contact in touch with your brand. Recycling bins are NOT for extremely cold leads that sales wants to dump, or for leads that aren’t BANT-qualified. These leads should be disqualified.
When setting up a recycling bin, it’s recommended that you create an automatic flow that filters any leads dumped into this “bin” by sales by industry, service or any other field you choose to create campaigns around. For example, at Fathom, we created separate recycling programs in Marketo for each industry we serve. We also set up an automatic filter for any lead added to the recycling bin that automatically adds that lead to the industry campaign they belong in. This makes it easy on your sales team, because they don’t need to find very specific recycling campaigns for each lead they want to recycle – rather, they can just add the lead to the main “recycling bin” campaign in Salesforce and let marketing do its thing.
Sales – All you need to know about the “recycling bin” concept is that this is your best friend. In all seriousness, use it if you can! And if marketing hasn’t yet set this up, ask very nicely until they do. This is a great way for contacts that you’ve had trouble connecting with, or those that are not yet ready to make a purchase, to continue to receive messages from your company (without you having to send individual messages over the course of months or years).
For more thoughts on aligning inbound and outbound marketing, please see the posts below or visit our sister site, Salesquants.com:
- How Sales (and Marketing) Is Like Dating
- Sales Advice Translated for Marketers
- An Admin’s Take on Salesforce.com Spring ’14 [Review]
- What Is Revenue Marketing?