As B2B marketers, we are tasked with attracting ideal prospects to our B2B website, educating them to build trust in the products or services we provide, and then getting those prospects to take the first step – make contact with us via a website form, phone call, or email.
What happens to your B2B marketing leads after they are qualified?
- Get filed away never to be seen again?
- Get forwarded to someone in sales who is probably following up?
- Go into an automated lead nurturing process that hasn’t been updated in years?
- Get turned over to your business development/sales team?
If you aren’t sure the answer to the above, it’s likely those hard-earned leads aren’t getting the love and attention they so rightly deserve.
Even if you have an idea of how the B2B marketing leads are being handled, it’s good to regularly check in with your sales team regarding the lead management process.
Here is a quick list of what should happen to your B2B marketing leads once they convert.
Qualify Your Leads
Your sales team will do an in-depth qualification of each lead, but it’s important to ensure the leads coming in fit your general customer persona. When you look at the leads, consider the following:
- Are they in the right industry or industries?
- Are they in the position you are targeting?
- Do they have a need for your product or service?
- Do they have a budget for your product or services?
- Do they have realistic expectations for your product or service?
If you are finding that the leads coming in aren’t anywhere close to your target market, it is critical that you review your inbound marketing strategy and tactics. It could be that your messaging is off or your targeting is off.
Read more: Easy tips to close B2B website leads.
Respond to the Leads in a Timely Manner
All website leads MUST be followed up with in a timely manner. For some B2B companies, the sales team is expected to contact the prospect within 30 minutes of getting the prospect’s information. However, at a minimum, it’s important to respond to a prospect within the same day or the next business day if it’s after the end of the day.
Leaving a few business days in between the form submission and follow-up ensures that any prospect that contacted you will work with your competitor instead. Typically the first salesperson who responds dictates the questions being asked by the prospect to other competing firms. You want to be the one leading the conversation. If the sales team is busy, In some cases, we have seen marketing teams take charge of the initial follow-up with a lead to vet them and then schedule a call with sales. Who follows up will depend on your company’s structure and culture.
Read more: Best practices for website live chat.
Follow Up with Any Leads That Go Silent
Lead nurturing is not just responding to a form submission and then any follow-up questions. It includes actively following up with leads, even the ones that go silent. Your prospects are busy and are likely juggling quite a bit (especially during the pandemic with homeschooling, house maintenance, the holidays, etc.). Finding and vetting a new vendor or partner may be one of many things on their to do list.
If a prospect reached out to your company, they are interested. It’s critical that your team has a creative strategy that is thoughtful and personalized to each individual prospect. For B2B firms, we don’t believe in automated lead nurturing – it often comes off as fake, impersonal, and off-target. Personalizing your follow-up to that prospect and their needs can do a lot to bring people out of the “silent email” zone.
Read more: Common mistakes that turn prospects away.
Continue Nurturing Until You Get to a No
Successful salespeople want a clear conclusion. Of course, they want to get to a “yes,” but that is only if the relationship is a good match for both the prospect and your company. However, it’s crucial to continue lead nurturing until you get to a no.
If a prospect doesn’t go with another vendor or partner, they may still be interested or considering your services or products. In fact, there could be a myriad of reasons they haven’t gotten to a “No” yet with you. They may not have the budget approved. They may still be in a contract with a competitor. They may be waiting for their existing vendor to complete the project before they part ways with them.
In certain cases, the lead nurturing can take a while so getting to a “no” may not happen for a long time. As long as the lead is still alive and hasn’t gone with a competitor, keep on nurturing.
Report Back to Marketing on Conclusion
B2B marketing and lead generation is not a set it and forget plan. In order to be nimble and responsive, it’s essential that your team continually receives closed-loop feedback from the sales team. This cannot be anecdotal. Anecdotal data is rarely, if ever, correct. We recommend that B2B marketers not only track leads and the source of the leads, but also closely track what happens to those leads in the sales process.
Even if you don’t have fancy software, you can track the leads you get each and every month on a spreadsheet, along with where they came from, if they went to a proposal/quote stage, the actual dollar amount of the quote, and the outcome (open/closed/lost). Then review this data every month. It’s surprising how many so-so leads turn out to be great deals or how many leads that look great on paper don’t close. Reviewing the leads every month not only helps for allocating marketing budget, it can help with internal process management and pricing strategies as well.
Connecting Sales & Marketing for a Win
In my experience, a sales team will always say the leads were just ok. This is not a reflection of the sales team’s abilities. It’s human nature to move on from the good and to focus more on the negative. However, when reviewing leads individually, we can discover which leads were great (let’s get more of those!) and which leads aren’t necessarily the right fit (time to shift strategy or focus?).
As a B2B marketer, you are tasked with bringing in and vetting leads for your business. Don’t be afraid to turn around and see what happens to those leads once they are handed off to business development, sales or customer support.