Today, we would like to focus a bit on the customer acquisition process – specifically we want to discuss you can improve close rates by high quality leads.
Lead management is the one piece, but without a great product showcase, presentation/sales assets, and the emotional connection to the customer, we will not close sufficient opportunities from the pipeline. (leads-to-sales ratio vs. leads-to-close ratio). So, the overall sales cycle phases, the used assets, the demo experience, and the people (presales, sales) which perform the sales pitch are of utmost importance, of course. But let’s focus on higher quality leads as input and not the outcome for now.
Since the lead qualification in many companies is still done by sales teams instead of demand gen or marketing teams, we might need to look at the skills of current marketing and demand gen colleagues internally to brief them thoroughly on a marketing lead qualification strategy. We might need to introduce a more stringent target customer profile specification inside the marketing funnel, so a filtering/segmentation happens in a secure way, and only the hot leads are handed over to sales teams, into the sales funnel.
This could also introduce a risk though because the amount of total leads which are with sales teams will decrease, and without closing better over mid term, the company might lose chances and revenue. Another risk might be that such a change from a scattergun approach to a tighter focussed lead approach might lead to a reduced pipeline size in some regions, and so sales reps could be starting to take much more of their time for lead generation (i.e. of net new names) themselves, and so they would be able to spend less time on customer intimacy which makes future up-/cross-sells more difficult, besides some other challenges. Hence, if the sales strategy leverages up-/cross-selling heavily we need to be specifically careful during the transition period, and also look into the opportunity management strategy.
This being said, to allow higher quality leads which are handed over to the sales teams, we need to:
- Analyse and rethink the stages in the marketing and sales funnels:
- what stages do we see,
- which flow leads to fastest closing,
- what stages need to be passed before handing over to sales teams,
- execute lessons learned to uncover best practices,
- Try to automate certain stages, actions and steps inside the funnels, like showcase/demo access, test system access, etc.
- Decide on thresholds and indicators of stages, revenues/opportunity sizes, industries, etc. which proved to identify a typical (fast) closing deal
- Pick events and actions more selective, be more focussed
- Execute professional opportunity management by sales teams (incl. global key account)
- Address buying centers more specific with potentially different value props than in current marketing and sales assets
- Check and adjust partner go-to-market approaches
- Create/execute onsite and online user group events
- Spent more time on alignment and lessons learned across all stakeholders and regions
Please reach out with any questions or comments.