One of the most important goals of marketing is to make a sale.
It’s not to make pretty pictures, it’s not to exhibit at a trade show, and it’s not to get on the front page of the New York Times or Mashable. It has nothing to do with SEO or social media either. Nor is it to generate leads.
It’s to make sales.
In order to do that, there are certain things that are needed:
- Leads – People interested in your product with the budget and authority to buy.
In order to get leads, you need to determine who is a good lead. The first step is to determine your role in the market place. That requires messaging and positioning: determining what market you want to serve and the messaging to reach that audience.
Then you must define the definition of a lead. Because not all leads buy, frequently we talk about two types of leads: Marketing Qualified Leads and Sales Qualified Leads. This is not that marketing and sales both don’t have the same objective: to sell, but rather that sales is only going to deal with those who are ready to buy while marketing’s role is to find and escort the lead until they are ready to buy and sales can close the deal.
Understanding of who the Marketing Qualified Lead is and who the Sales Qualified Lead is.
Sales does not talk to a lead until BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline) is established. Marketing establishes this:
Budget – It is the role of marketing to determine the product value, establish the pricing model, and communicate the product’s value to the target audience
Authority – It is marketing’s job to define the target audience, determine the appropriate audiences (in high tech, for example, during the early adoption stage one wants to target the technical early adopter, but during a later stage, it is the business/economic buyer that should be targeted). Your leads must have the authority to purchase, or direct you to someone who does, or else they are worthless.
Need – By establishing and communicating the unique value proposition, and determining the target channels that the target audience resides, marketing determines and communicates with those who have a need.
Timeline – Sales talks to those whose timeline is “NOW” but marketing moves those whose timeline is “not yet” to “now.”
Once these strategic issues are determined and implemented, it’s time to nurture the lead to the sale. This is done via lead nurturing.
While lead nurturing is one of the most important functions for a marketing automation system (like Marketo or HubSpot), simply purchasing a system out of the box without developing a lead nurturing plan is not the path to success. In order to nurture the lead you need to understand the sales cycle:
- How long is the sales cycle – how long does it take for a lead to sale
- What do your leads need to know before they can buy
- Are there other stakeholders (managers, procurement) that need to sign off before a purchase can be authorized? What are their needs?
- What issues are important for our leads?
- Do they need training, material to understand how innovative our product is, or other educational material?
Once you understand that, develop a DRIP lead nurturing program. DRIP is called this because it’s precisely what you do to the lead, slowly send relevant material to your leads that will help escort them throughout the sales funnel.
When developing a program you need to address both their needs and, if they need approval to purchase from their manager, material that addresses their manager’s needs.
For example, for downloadable software, you can start with a plan such as:
- 1st week: Provide a short tutorial how to get started that gives the user the confidence to continue (solve a problem that is easily solved using your solution)
- 2nd week: Relevant tips for how to solve a vexing problem
- 3rd week: Provide a white paper (behind a lead generation form) explaining the ROI and the business case for your solution
- Once a month – Case studies and content that helps them in their business role, even without your solution.
- Once a month – Segmented Newsletter
- Once every two months – Invitation to events (webinars, seminars, conferences) in their area and interest
Of course, as with anything, test and measure against your previously agreed upon KPIs and ensure frequent communication between your marketing and sales teams until you get It right.