The goal of most B2B marketing programs is lead generation. While defining the buyer funnel provides an understanding of the overall buyer journey, outlining the customer lifecycle helps organizations identify how marketing and sales can work together most effectively, including roles and responsibilities, lead hand-off best practices, and contact management within the customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Understanding where contacts are within the lifecycle provides both marketing and sales the ability to vary their interactions, which in turn will help move contacts through the lifecycle more efficiently.
At the top of the funnel, are the visitors / subscribers / database. These are contacts who have opted-in to your newsletter, have been added to the database from a tradeshow/event, or from an interaction with a salesperson directly. However, they have not yet indicated that they are ready to have a serious conversation about purchasing your product or service. Since buyers are savvier than ever, it’s a marketer’s role to ensure a quality experience via web, content, social and other means, to build brand awareness and position your company as a resource. Click To Tweet
Once a contact engages with your brand and takes further action (i.e. clicks an email, downloads a guide, clicks a blog post, etc.), they are moved through the funnel as a marketing lead. Utilizing a CRM such as SharpSpring, Zoho, HubSpot or Salesforce/Pardot, helps organizations identify the warmest marketing leads via lead scores and user engagement, and helps focus their team’s efforts on those most likely to further engage. It also provides crucial insight such as the life of the lead and identifies what web content resonates most with visitors.
The next step is moving a contact from a marketing lead to a marketing-qualified lead. During this stage, a calling campaign can further identify whether a contact is ready to talk to a member of the sales team. It is important to understand that while a contact might be a marketing-qualified lead, they are not yet considered sales-qualified. This is because marketing and appointment setting calling campaigns typically only gather a limited level of intel for qualification purposes.
While the calling campaign might identify contacts who are ready to talk to the sales team, it is up to the sales team to gather additional intel to determine whether the contact is in a position to make a purchase. Necessary details usually include budget, decision-making authority, needs assessment, and timing. Understanding those details helps move the marketing-qualified lead into a sales-qualified lead. A contact can also be come a sales-qualified lead if they fill out a decision stage form on the website (i.e. request demo/assessment form).
When sales has collected all the decision-making information from the sales-qualified lead and fully understands the steps it is going to take to close the deal, an opportunity is created. If the contact is not ready to be converted to an opportunity, sales may provide details to marketing to enter the contact into an ongoing nurture campaign.
Finally, sales will turn a contact into a customer when the opportunity closes. Conversely, if the opportunity does not close, the deal may be marked as dead or the contact may be put into a different type of nurture campaign for future follow up.
It is critical for marketing and sales to stay on the same page in terms of the quality and quantity of leads being handed off. The teams should meet weekly or monthly to discuss any leads passed and whether the process needs to be refined or optimized.
Are your marketing and sales teams working together? If not, contact us to learn how to bring them together.