Maximising the sales team’s performance with better prospect nurture

How many times do you hear the sales team blame marketing for poor quality leads? Whether it’s a simple excuse for non-performance or there’s some truth in it, it’s our job to review and assess the quality of those leads and sort out prospect nurturing to ensure that the sales team only deal with those that are qualified and ready to speak to a sales person.

A couple of weeks ago I was at TechTargets ROI summit. For those that don’t know, TechTarget publish over 100 titles on IT topics, including CIO and Computer Weekly, and cover everything from data centres to CRM technology. At the summit, there was a panel of speakers from either sales or marketing functions from Cisco, Dell and SAS and they discussed this very point. There had to be a focus on ensuring that the sales team only tackle those leads that are sales ready and to keep those that aren’t firmly in the hands of marketing for prospect nurturing.

When you look at cost it’s a no-brainer. The sales team are one of your most expensive resources and it’s estimated that 60% of your sales and marketing budget goes on sales (salaries, commission and expenses). It’s therefore critical to ensure that the sales team deliver what you need (conversions), and that marketing works really hard to ensure only the best prospects get through.

These days, it’s essential to have a clearly defined programme that identifies lead stage and likelihood of conversion based on interactions, levels and frequency of engagement, coupled with a strong telesales team to assess and qualify those in the pipeline. When the programme is set up right, the panel confirmed that their marketing qualified leads had a conversion rate of 36% to sales accepted leads, which is pretty good. Those that aren’t accepted simply get thrown back into nurture (I say that so flippantly) and they’re worked a little more.

Most companies do this through their use of content marketing, social media, PR and other owned content hooked up to a marketing automation system that can score and monitor leads, pushing data into the CRM. However, although it sounds simple, it’s actually very complicated and takes months to figure out the finer points of how to make the system work by finessing lead scoring and the processes between marketing, telesales and the sales team (that’s another blog post, it’s a science and an art).

Back to TechTarget, though. What I find smart about what they’re doing is that they can continue to nurture and monitor your leads through their online publications. What’s more, they’ll continue to ‘push’ your content and email any leads through paid media, but whilst your lead is not even in your space. This extends your reach (and hold) over those leads longer and more effectively.

A second very exciting move is that TechTarget is in beta with a connection to pass lead information through to YOUR Salesforce, which means you can track and monitor those leads even more successfully. It’s only a matter of time before TechTarget opens up its API even more. It’s not far off giving you the ability to extend your reach and continue tracking your leads outside of your owned and trackable channels. Exciting times.

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