Lead Nurturing: 9 questions answered on lead qualification, nurturing, and Marketing-Sales alignment
A couple of weeks ago, I presented an American Marketing Association webcast, “The One-Two Punch of Effective Lead Engagement: Accurate Lists and Powerful Content” (a replay of the webcast is posted below).
The nearly 500 attendees had so many excellent questions that my webcast could have easily been an hour longer. That’s why I decided to answer nine of the most pertinent questions here today and another 12 in a post on the MarketingSherpa blog tomorrow.
These questions hit on key challenges in lead nurturing today. I hope the answers will help you solve specific challenges in defining qualified leads, nurturing them, and aligning your sales and marketing teams.
How to define a lead
Q: What if salespeople have differing opinions about what a lead is?
A: Bring your best salespeople together and create a Universal Lead Definition (ULD). Here’s a resource that can help: Lead Generation Check list – Part 4: Clear and Universal Lead Definition.
Q: Are there different definitions of ULD for each product?
A: Only if there are different customer segments.
Q: What’s the difference between an inquiry and a qualified lead?
A: A qualified lead fulfills the ULD established by you and your sales team. A qualified lead is ready to talk to Sales; an inquiry is not.
Q: What defines a stale lead?
A: Someone who has not been engaged recently; look at leads in your CRM that have been unopened or unedited in the last three to six months.
Nurturing and automation
Q: Could you review how to convert an inquiry into a lead?
A: Begin with the end in mind. What are the micro-conversions that outline each step in the path? Map out the process. This will determine the path you follow to intensify the inquiry’s intent to purchase and nurture them into qualified leads. It will be different for each organization.
Q: What’s an acceptable opt-out rate for an aggressive email campaign?
A: Know what your present opt-out rate is before nurturing and compare the two. Opt-out rates in the single digits are pretty normal.
Q: What role does marketing automation play in account-based marketing?
A: It’s great for managing and tracking interactions when you have a lot of accounts and have at least 1,000 contacts.
Aligning marketing and sales teams
Q: How do you recommend finding time for the sales team to keep up with new leads?
A: Alignment with your sales team is critical. If your team doesn’t have time to follow up, you may be sending leads that aren’t qualified enough. Maximize the team’s effective selling time. Here are several resources that can help:
- BNET Interviews Brian Carroll: Focus on Helping Not Closing
- Steal a Chapter from the Sales Strategy Playbook to Improve Marketing ROI
- Four reasons why funnels are a marketer’s best friend
- Closed Loop Feedback: The Missing Lead Generation Huddle
In this video, at timestamp 3:19, Michelle Mogelson Levy, Associate VP of Marketing Programs at ECI Telecom, explains how critical alignment is to her organization’s success.
Q: How long do organizations usually allow for lead nurturing to take? One year seems right but I get requests for results in three months.
A: Salespeople are always trying to meet their quota and need people who will buy in three to six months. But you have to expect nurturing to take at least as long as your sales cycle.
We must remember that most buying happens when a salesperson isn’t there. You have to be clear that whom you are nurturing will eventually buy; we never stop nurturing until we know the prospect is no longer a fit. If you see someone who hasn’t engaged or opened content in three months, you need to refresh that contact — the person may no longer even be with the company or is simply not interested.
A link to a replay of the webcast is included below. Do you have additional questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments.