When it comes to generating new business for your company, having a large lead list or prospect database is crucial. But how you market to those prospects through an outreach strategy is what will bring that new blood into your pipeline. By conjoining your marketing and sales efforts, you are more likely to have a specific strategy and bring the two teams together as one. In fact, companies who have sales and marketing alignment tend to be more successful. According to HubSpot, "1 in 4 companies say their sales and marketing teams are either 'misaligned' or 'rarely aligned.'" However, HubSpot also states that "'Tightly aligned' companies achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth and misalignment between sales and marketing costs B2B companies 10% or more of revenue loss annually."
What is it:
Definition: Lead scoring is the process of assigning values, often in the form of numerical "points," to each lead you generate for the business. - HubSpot
Using marketing systems, you can scale your lead qualification process to better identify and target the most qualified leads, while nurturing those who need more time. To set up your scoring criteria, lists and workflows effectively, identify what actions taken by prospects should affect their lead score and the points each action will receive. When a contact gains a certain score, you can trigger a workflow, setting up a series of actions. You can score your leads based on multiple attributes. The first group of attributes is personal. These include: job titles, persona indication, knowing their email or phone number or other personal questions you might want to know about the prospect throughout the sales process. The second set of attributes is how they have engaged with your company. This includes: how they've engaged with your website and brand across the internet, email opens, clicks and unsubscribes and even social media interactions.
How To Do It:
Determine with your internal team how prospects will reach the threshold and gain various points. Talk to your sales team to figure out what questions are the most important that they need answers to and learn about the top qualifications that made your current clients work with you. Once you have the criteria, set the proper points for each action. For example: visiting your website = 2 points, answering a question on a form = 3 etc. The last step is to determine your lead scoring threshold. Meaning, how many points do prospects have to get until they become a marketing qualified lead and they’re ready to pass to your sales team for outreach. Once a lead reaches that threshold, create an outreach strategy. Have one person in charge of distributing the leads to your sales team and have a process in place on how the prospects are distributed. For example: sales person A gets leads in the financial industry, while sales person B gets leads in the education industry or all leads are distributed in round-robin format. Make sure to also create a tracking system, so you know how many leads your sales team is able to get in touch with, set meetings with or most importantly, convert to sales.
Why should you do it:
Implementing lead scoring is critical for both your sales and marketing teams. Creating lead scoring points helps integrate the two teams together to prioritize leads, respond to them appropriately and increase the rate at which those leads become customers. If you have a large database, this prioritizes who you should reach out to first. When a lead hits your determined threshold and becomes a marketing qualified lead (MQL) it pushes them one step closer to a sales qualified lead (SQL). As prospects engage with your brand, download your resources and answer questions your company seeks answers to, they are warmer leads than those who don’t engage. Having this system set in place will help nurture and work leads that you might not necessarily reach out to, but who still might be a fit for your product or service.
Drip marketing is a strategy that allows you to nurture leads, communicate regularly to your customer base, increase your sales and stay in front of opportunities that are in various stages of your sales cycle. Drip campaigns have been a proven value add to help reach your business objectives. Whether they are new prospects, halfway through the cycle, or close to signing on the dotted line, it is critical to provide your identified target audience with relevant and helpful information.
Often times we see data management as one of our clients main pain points. They either don’t have the resources or lack the expertise to go through the process of building and executing their list. Over the past couple weeks, we have discussed how to clean up your database, build and nurture your pipeline, how to work your prospect list and how to measure metrics. To keep all of those things running smoothly, you must have someone in charge of your database along with metrics for accountability for your sales team to meet.
In order to properly track the health of your pipeline, designate someone with the big picture in mind and authorize ultimate ownership. They will need to have the time to continuously manage all the data. Measuring your metrics isn’t something you can do once a year or whenever someone has time. It has to be monitored and tracked on a regular basis. To see if you have accountability sufficiently covered, ask yourself these questions:
-Who’s in charge of your sales and marketing lists and database?
-Are they focused on it all the time?
-Do they have the tools they need to clean, merge and assess your database?
-Do they have too many other responsibilities that can distract them from database management?
-Have they assessed the value of your data in the past?
After evaluating the accountability within your company, you may realize you need to hire a data specialist or assign someone in-house to begin overseeing the database. The route that is best for you will depend on the size of your company and the resources accessible to you. This role should be done by someone that understands how to work with data and is good with spreadsheets. They should also be analytical as they will have control over the CRM and will need to effectively have a handle on all the information.
Every company will structure this role differently, but ultimately they will be the master of the database. The data specialist will work at keeping the sales reps and marketing team held accountable. Activity should be monitored weekly and evaluated monthly to see if any trends are happening. Continually assessing the data will alert the data specialist to any areas that may need adjusting.
It’s also import to note that there are different levels of accountability. In addition to having a data specialist hold the team responsible, sales reps will also need to maintain integrity on their own. They should be continually tracking their progress by recording calls, taking notes and updating the list all while maintaining the overall structure of the CRM. Sales reps must work with accuracy and input their information properly into the database.
If you can’t dedicate someone to manage your database, you then need to consider outsourcing at least some of the responsibility to resources that focus on basic list management fundamentals everyday. It’s truly surprising the number of companies with insufficient and outdated databases. Having the lack of resources or experience can cost a company lots of money in wasted sales and marketing efforts. The 5 pillars we’ve touched on this past month are essential to effectively manage your databases. If you need assistance in any of these areas, from cleansing to developing your data, our staff at MPI are here to help.
Sometimes the people and places we originally plan to target aren’t actually who we should be trying to connect with. Even after you’ve cleaned up your database, it can still take a little trial and error to see if you have an effective pipeline. That’s why it’s important to put in the time to measure your metrics by collecting data as you go. By improving your marketing intelligence you’ll be able to determine the areas that need revising, saving you and your company both time and money.
Tracking and measuring the effectiveness of your database is critical to the success of reaching your goals. It isn’t an opinion based assessment, but rather if the facts and numbers are proving to be effective. The process doesn’t have to be complicated. It just needs to identify the key metrics that will display your progress and pinpoint what’s working while also highlighting the areas that seem to be problematic.
Remember, if you don’t measure it, you also can’t manage it. Start out by measuring the size of your database. As we discussed in our blog post about building your pipeline, you need to make sure you have enough contacts in your database to work with. Again, a hundred prospects will not be a big enough scale to work from. You must first work to build a quality prospect list before you can start measuring data from your marketing outreach.
Once you’ve adequately built up your pipeline, you then need to put in the time to thoroughly work through your contacts. Determining the fate of your database can’t come from, I tried calling them a couple times or I reached out and never got a response. It’s a numbers game that is generated from being persistent and proactive. Knowing how to effectively work your list (link post) will help you figure out how to reach your contacts with multiple touches in order to figure out if you’re targeting the right people.
When it comes to collecting data, there are many areas you can look at. Here at MPI, we find some of the most important results to track are from contact to dial ratios and contacts to appointments. These two areas will help determine if you need to adjust your target. If your contact to dial ratio is low, it could be an indicator that you are reaching out to the wrong title. At this point, you may need to reach out to a different contact within the company that’s more accessible.
It’s also important to collect data on all the people you contact. What was the outcome? If they weren’t qualified, what was the reason? Are they not interested? Are they not the decision maker? Do they already have something similar? Maybe they don’t have funds. Whatever it may be, use that information to further evaluate the health of your contact list.
If you’ve efficiently reached out to the contacts in your database and aren’t seeing results, it’s also important to note that there could be a few variables at play. It isn’t always that you’re reaching out to the wrong people. It can also be that you are sending out the wrong message or using an ineffective delivery method. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause so be flexible and creative. A phone call that worked for one group, may need to be done in an email form for another. A script you write for one prospect, may need to be worded differently for another. There is not just one method that will fit all prospects, or There's no one method the fits all.That’s why it’s imperative to mix up the ingredients of your approach and continually take notes throughout the process.
The best way to troubleshoot is by recording your results and then cross-examining what is being generated weekly and monthly. This will allow you to adjust accordingly based on what’s working and what’s not. It may take some time to find the best combination of message, delivery and frequency, but once you find it, you’ll start maximizing your results. This will also help the success of future campaigns as you master the art of troubleshooting. Next week we will take our discussion of data management one step further by bringing accountability to the table through putting someone in charge.
The connections you make and the relationships you build with your prospects and clients are the most crucial concepts of growing your business. Yet many times companies find themselves at a standstill with over 60% of marketers reporting their top challenge is generating traffic and leads. (HubSpot) Without continually expanding your pipeline and working your prospect list, you are missing out on qualified opportunities.
Once you have figured out who you are going to target, it’s time to put a plan in action. In order to properly work your list, you’ll need to invest the time and money to execute a well-planned out sales and marketing strategy. There are many directions you can go from here, so it’s best to determine how your organization is suited to communicate to these prospects and what formats are available to you.
You’ll want to work your database by continuously reaching out with valuable communications. This can be done by actively calling on the list to set appointments and executing marketing campaigns to generate qualified leads. Then go the extra mile by nurturing these opportunities with education content. If you manage the right mix of activities against the list, your list will continue to organically grow and thrive.
Creative thinking will drive your success in generating leads. As you work on developing your marketing strategy, creatively think about the individuals you are targeting then tailor the script and marketing material to those different titles. For example, the material you create for a sales rep wouldn’t be the same for a pitch to the CEO. According to Jay Baer at Convince & Convert, 65 percent of businesses say they would likely switch brands if a company didn’t make an effort to personalize their communications.
When it comes to creating a strategy and implementing your plan, it’s critical to not hone in on just one method of outreach. People may relate better with different marketing mediums allowing your message to absorb deeper. A successful strategy will combine both inbound and outbound marketing. A multi-tactic approach will generate brand awareness and will aid in consistent nurturing.
Some of the top marketing strategies are associations, conferences, cold calling, direct mail, email marketing, content marketing and social media. As you plan out your strategy, you must think about how a culmination of marketing efforts will deliver the best results. When you plan your marketing strategy, you’ll start by thinking about your monthly, quarterly and yearly approach. Your plan should contain multiple touches, which is more expensive than a single touch, but the result delivers greater success. You will determine the content and frequency for each while thinking about how each part works with the rest.
For example, if you send out a direct mail piece, then you would follow up with cold calls and emails to connect with prospects to further discuss what you sent out. Though these marketing tactics are separate parts, layered together they work as a whole. Also as you create your plan, think about your calendar. If you have events or conferences coming up, it’s important to keep these top of mind and implement pre, during and post strategies to leverage your presence. By using multiple marketing strategies you will also be covering all your bases. You are increasing your chances of getting in front of someone because prospects will respond to various tactics in different ways.
As you work through your prospect list, remember to continue updating it with new information you gather. For example, you may reach out to someone and find out they aren’t the decision maker so instead, they give you the proper information of who to reach out to. You might also realize the best times to call or which medium is best to contact them by. All of those details should be included in the notes you take along the way and then added to your database. The more you work your list and collect additional material on your prospects, the better your chances are to set qualified appointments.
When it comes to growing your database, there is one area that many sales teams fail at. They focus too heavily on their existing pipeline. They get to a certain level and think they only want to work off personal contacts and referrals so they start to limit who they reach out to. According to a study done by HubSpot Research, a whopping 90% of agencies cite referrals as their top source for new leads. (HubSpot) While you should still keep those contacts close, you must always be working on finding cold leads- new blood. Those non-existing relationships are qualified opportunities for you.
The connections you make and the relationship you build with your prospects and clients are the most crucial concepts of growing your business. Still, many companies find themselves at a standstill with over 60% of marketers reporting their top challenge is generating traffic and leads. (HubSpot) Without continually expanding your pipeline, you are missing out on the possibility of connecting with qualified leads.
After you have properly taken the time to cleanse your prospect list, you’re then ready to identify the areas you may have holes. To ensure the success of your list, you must compile enough contacts to work through so you can fill in the gaps. A hundred prospects is not a big enough scale to work from. Building and maintaining a quality database will take time and consistency. Discipline is key in data management because it’s an ongoing task that will take follow up and creative thinking.
To garner results, you’ll have to work through every event, list broker, association, membership, industry publication, marketing campaign and lead sources to make sure you are compiling the best data possible. Sometimes you can find yourself at a standstill after exhausting all your contacts. If you still need additional help in building up your pipeline, purchasing a list from a credible broker would be a great resource to utilize. Also, as you go through your database you may notice missing information for specific contacts. For instance, maybe you have a name and number, but you are looking to find out their title or email. A list vendor can help you fill in the missing pieces so you can best reach out to your prospect through multiple channels or through the best option based on their persona.
The area sales people often fail at the most is follow-up. They tend to focus heavily on the hot leads instead of what’s on the back-burner. It takes time and dedication, but the payback will show in the end. That’s why it’s important to manage and work your pipeline, which means holding your team accountable. Companies that put in the work to nurture their leads make 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost than non-nurtured prospects. (HubSpot)
If you have a sales call that didn’t result in a sale, you must continue to work that lead with some type of nurturing. If you continue to stay in touch with these prospects you are going to have a greater chance of them working with you down the road especially because you know they have interest. Any objections from the prospect may resolve over time so it’s important to stay top of mind. This can easily be achieved by simply setting reminders to pick up the phone and speak to your leads directly.
For example, a prospect may like the concept of your product or service, but doesn’t have the budget. Instead of just writing them off or following up cold in a year, you should keep pushing out material to remain front and center. It could be marketing material that shows how your services could save them money in the long run and then after a few months offer some sort of discount. It creates a call to action to get them to reconsider your offer. As we all know, things change and you want to be top-of-mind when funding becomes available, or when your prospect loses a top sales performer.
Putting in the time and funding to adequately build up your pipeline will ultimately set you up for success. Setting a proper foundation with a solid pipeline will arm your sales team with the resources to hit their goals. Remember, the work doesn’t end after you construct your database. It carries on through the sales calls and expands with continued nurturing of your prospects. Next week we’ll further our discussion of effective data management with insight on how to put your list into action.