Today’s marketing and sales landscape looks vastly different from that of just a few decades ago. With the advent of the Internet, blogging, social media, and a myriad of digital communications channels, the path to purchase is not a simple, straight line, but a complex and varied web of twists and turns – and touch points.
Today’s consumers are also increasingly immune to traditional advertising and sales methodologies, meaning they conduct more independent research and take more convincing before they’re sold on making a purchase. That’s why the buyer’s journey may differ from one consumer to the next; they’re not all listening to the same radio spots to learn about your company.
They’re not even being exposed to the same information about your brand from the same sources. Some may have discovered your company on the social web, while others learned of your products or services through word-of-mouth recommendations. Some may read online reviews before engaging with your marketing team or filling out an online request for more information. Others will visit your website, read your blog, and evaluate your competition before engaging with your company.
What’s more, when leads are passed from marketing to sales, they’re expected to be “sales-ready,” or at the decision-making stage in the buying journey. But the myriad of paths to purchase make it increasingly challenging to effectively qualify leads as sales-ready.
According to the Online Marketing Institute, one reason it takes a multitude of touches to generate a sales-ready lead is the sheer amount of information required to deem a lead sales-ready: Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe (BANT). Without understanding what this information means for your company, and having the appropriate number of interactions with prospects to determine sales-readiness.
It often takes several touches for a consumer to make the choice to request information, and even more for marketing to gather the information needed to determine if a lead is ready to be passed to sales. At the early stages in the buyer’s journey, consumers are often merely gathering information and building awareness about your products and services. Often, these interactions are not in-depth enough to provide the information necessary to qualify a lead.
Compared to marketing resources, sales resources and assets are often limited, even scarce. It’s vitally important for sales to optimize the use of these limited resources with the most qualified leads who are most likely to convert to buyers.
When marketing passes on leads that are not yet at the point of purchase, sales spends valuable time and information trying to convert leads who are just not yet ready to make a buying decision. As a result, leads which could have become sales-ready with the proper nurturing at multiple touch points are lost.
What is the prospect looking for? How soon does the prospect plan to make a buying decision? What are the budgetary requirements? Is the contact the individual with decision-making authority? These questions must all be answered, in most cases, to deem a lead sales-ready, and it’s not information that’s easily obtained via a simple web form. Gathering this information takes multiple, positive interactions where marketing representatives have the opportunity to establish trust and rapport, setting the stage for the sales team to close the deal at the appropriate time.
Here’s the thing: Your sales team doesn’t have the time to spend nurturing leads who aren’t yet ready to make a buying decision, nor are they typically equipped with the resources and assets with which to do so. There are dozens of statistics that show time and time again that when the leads passed to sales are qualified, they are far more likely to convert.
The six to eight touches it takes to qualify a lead are crucial components of the lead nurturing process, allowing marketing the opportunity to educate and inform prospects as they move through each stage in the buying journey. These touch points are opportunities to prepare leads for the final stage in the buying journey, the point of decision-making. The better the experience and the more valuable each of these touch points are to leads, the more ready they’ll be to make a buying decision, and the more likely they are to convert to paying customers.
The result is a highly organized, efficient buying journey that runs like a well-oiled machine. When marketing passes qualified, sales-ready leads to the sales department, sales closes more deals in less time. This fosters a positive, rewarding working environment for both sales and marketing, as well as a healthy bottom line for the company.
Fergal Glynn is Docurated’s VP of Marketing. Docurated accelerates sales in companies looking for fast growth by making the best marketing content readily available to Sales teams. Fergal helped produce Docurated's State of Sales Productivity Report, which examines key sales productivity trends and challenges facing sales and marketing executives. Fergal grew up in Ireland and now lives in Arlington, MA. To learn more about Docurated check out their Sales Enablement Tool on the AppExchange.