We see it all the time: A company's marketing efforts are running like a well-oiled machine. Social media is humming, ads are drumming up interest, Pay-Per-Click is clicking and their blog's comment section is as busy as Grand Central Station at rush hour. But somehow this interest isn't leading to new customers — or not as many as it should. So where's the disconnect?
Your leads might be falling through the cracks. Sometimes it's hard to know where marketing ends and sales begin. At what point should leads be handed over to sales to close the deal? It certainly varies depending on the size and structure of a company (maybe you don't have different marketing and sales people!), but one thing's for sure: This transition needs to be smooth and well defined in order to capitalize on leads.
So to get started, figure out when it's time to pluck potential customers from your marketing machine and hand them off to human hands for a more personalized experience. A nice place to make this transition is often after you've collected an email. Maybe someone signed up for your newsletter or downloaded a white paper. Or, you could start your sales process even earlier than that by sending a direct message on Twitter or replying to a comment on your blog. Either way, how you treat these leads next is critical.
Below are some tips on how to take your leads through the sales funnel and out to the other side.
1. Pay Attention to the Value Ladder
You've probably heard of a sales funnel (attraction, consideration, decision), but what is a value ladder, you ask? It's a way to plan and structure your content and interactions with leads as they journey through the sales funnel. For example, during someone's 'attraction' stage, you wouldn't go in asking them to sign up for your top-tier offerings. You would want to entice them a bit more with perhaps some free — yet helpful — content. Read more about the value ladder here.
2. Don't Hesitate ('Cause Your Leads Won't Wait)
We could spout a million stats about people's short attention span and fast-fading memory these days. But we all know that, for one, no one can remember what they did two seconds ago. And two, every single one of us is being hunted as a lead for a million different things. Chances are, if someone interacts with your company on Monday, they may have already forgotten about you by Tuesday — unless you help them remember. So let's say someone submits their information on a web form or sends an email inquiry. Where is that information going? Who is receiving that email? Make sure that your leads don't end up rotting in untouched databases or overloaded inboxes. Once you receive their information, follow up within 24 hours. Or better yet, 5 minutes! A recent study found “the odds of making a successful contact with a lead are 100 times greater when a contact attempt occurs within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes after the lead was submitted."
3. Warm Them Up
So what do you do in that initial follow-up? As I mentioned earlier, you don't go in for the sale immediately. Don't pull that "19-year-old dude move." People need to be properly led through the sales funnel — and that starts with some gentle engagement with your company. Consider offering some free, gated content. Gated content means someone will have to provide a little contact information before accessing the ebook, white paper, tips, or any other type of content that would be interesting and helpful. This way, you can begin proving that you're an authority in your field and impressing upon them how your products or services could be a good fit for them.
4. Know Your Audience
Before you send a personal message, do some research. Dig deep into the internet and find out who they are, what they do, where they work, and anything else that will help you make a more personalized connection. Sending an email that comes from an actual person will be much more effective than a canned response.
5. Ask Questions, Listen, Repeat
Once you send that personal message, it's time to listen and ask questions (be it via email or over the phone). Find out what they're looking for, what their pain points are, and how you might help solve them. Also, take note of where they might sit in the "consideration" part of the funnel. They might not be quite ready to discuss potential solutions just yet. If they're not, resist the urge to be "super salesy." Just keep the conversation going — whatever that means. Maybe they just need to hang out on a newsletter list for a bit, read a few more white papers first, or hear from you periodically. If they need some space, don't forget to stay in touch! If you don't keep them warm, you can easily be forgotten (or lose them to a competitor).
6. Make the Sale
We know we've been telling you a lot of ways to not actually ask someone to become a customer. Well, once you've carefully warmed them up and guided them through their sales journey, the time has come to actually convert them! Chances are, if you've properly teed yourself up using the steps above, you should see a higher rate of success.
We encourage you to sit down with your team and make a firm decision on when a lead will be handed off from marketing to sales and what your value ladder looks like. Develop a lead scoring process if that makes determining the handoff easier. Hubspot has a great tool built into their system to do this. This way, no one will slip through your fingers and you will be fully capitalizing on everyone who interacts with your company. Happy converting!
Want to learn how to automate your marketing and develop a seamless process between your marketing and sales team? StellaPop is a certified Hubspot partner. Book a time to talk with us below.