Leads = opportunity. Opportunity = potential revenue. A game plan for what to do with leads = more revenue. It’s simple math, right?
We’ve all heard comments from sales and marketing leaders saying, “We want more leads.” But what happens after you generate them? All too often, marketers run a successful campaign, and the leads they worked so hard to develop end up withering away inside the firm’s CRM. If you don’t have a plan for what you’ll do with the leads you generate, you’re just leaving potential revenue on the table.
A plan doesn’t have to be intense; it can be as simple as answering a few questions about the leads you’ve generated:
- Are they qualified to work with us?
- Where did they convert, and have we seen them before?
- Should we nurture, or should we sell?
#1 – Are they qualified to work with us?
Kind of a silly question, right? But this might be the most important question you ask yourself about the leads you’ve generated. Even if you set up a super-targeted marketing campaign, you will still get leads from companies that you would never work with. That is why it is so important to define your ideal client. This opens the door to a few follow-on questions for you to consider:
- Do they have a job function that is typical for your current business relationships? If you are most successful working with VP’s of Marketing, and the lead is a Director of Operations, then you need to think if it makes sense to work with the firm and that person.
- Are they a decision-maker, or can you see a clear path to a decision-maker?
Typically, you can tell a decision-maker by a job title (Director, VP, SVP, EVP, C-suite), but that doesn’t mean you should write off a manager level job title connected to a lead. Research the firm and see if you can identify potential decision-makers. If you can identify potential decision-makers, then you can map the path to creating a relationship.
- Is this a company that you want to do business with? This includes the company’s industry, size, structure, and brand. Every firm has industries that are their “sweet spot.” Where they can run campaigns, strategize, and execute projects that are efficient, and profitable. For example, Rattleback is not going to go after work with the Cleveland Browns (although, that would be cool – GO BROWNS! #thisisouryear), we are an agency largely built to work with organizations like HT Engineering, TBM Consulting, National Center of the Middle Market – consulting firms and research centers that have demand for high-quality B2B content (oh, and leads of their own).
#2 – Where did they convert, and have we seen them before?
Whether we like it or not (or, we turned off cookies and tracking), the Internet tracks us. As marketers, it’s important to take advantage of this to learn more about the people that visit our website or convert become a lead in our system through other means. By incorporating the right software, you will be to learn things like:
- Where did they convert? This becomes more important in the next section, but this tells you what the potential client is interested in. By knowing this, you can avoid trying to share content with them that doesn’t align with their interests.
- How many times have they visited your website? Most of the time, it takes people a view visits for a potential client to convert on an asset and share their information. If people converted the first time, every time, we’d all be out of jobs. So, it’s helpful to know if they’ve visited your website before, and which pages they’ve read. This allows you to see how they are advancing through their buying journey. If they started on the homepage, and then read an article or two, and converted by accessing a piece of gated content, they’re likely still in learning mode. It might make sense to send them a case study or two as that may help them progress to the next phase of their buying journey.
- Are they already in your database, if so, for how long? This may be the most important thing to know about any “new” leads you’ve generated from a campaign. Have you ever met somebody, seen them a week later, and they introduce themselves like you’ve never met? Awkward, but also frustrating because you don’t feel valued. Don’t do this. You should have a database of people you’ve talked to, who have converted on forms, or have subscribed to your newsletter. You know who they are. This avoids an awkward “re-introduction” and turns that into a “great to see your name pop-up again, I know you attended a webinar we hosted last year.”
#3 – Should we nurture, or should we sell?
There’s a quote that I read not to long ago that said, “95% of your customers aren’t ready to buy when they see your ad. Marketing exists so when they are ready, they call you.” That couldn’t be more true.
Nurturing a lead is more than just tossing them into your email newsletter (which you should do). Nurturing is about providing value to somebody because you know what they like, or are interested in. This is why it’s important to know the answers to some of the answers to the sub-questions outlined above. If you have a lead come through that is in an industry that you have successfully done work in then you can share relevant content with them. This means case studies, articles, blogs, landing pages – content that proves your expertise and shines a spotlight on your experience helping organizations like theirs.
What if you think you should sell? Well, the question for this section was a trick question. Nurturing is selling. By sharing content, you are selling your firms experience and expertise to help potential client overcome their most pressing business problems. Think of the last time you made a big purchase like a car. What do you remember about that purchase? If the salesperson was good, they didn’t try to hard sell you, they valued you. Did they talk to you about the size and safety of vehicles because of your growing family? Did they ask you your budget at the beginning of your meeting, and only show you cars that fit within that budget? Did they show you what you want vs. what they think you need because they are the experts? If you’ve experienced something like this, you know the feeling I’m trying to get across. Your leads should get this same feeling after engaging with your follow-on nurturing programs (whether “human” or “not.”
Suggested First Step:
Before you launch your next lead gen campaign, sit down and ask yourself the 3 primary questions and related sub-questions I’ve outlined in this article. With just an hour or two of your time you should have a solid plan of action for every lead you generate going forward.