Sales Best Practices
Scale up, and three other inbound sales tips to quickly advance leads
Marketing qualified leads are knocking at your door. It’s about time you let them in!
Remember what it was like texting on a flip phone? You’d have to press a number four times just to get the right letter. It was cumbersome, and it took forever. That’s what it’s like following up on inbound sales leads the old-fashioned way.
The world of B2B sales has changed. Even at large companies, buyers today are impatient, independent, and they’re in a meeting so no, they don’t always have five minutes to talk right now. Forrester Research found that buyers are taking a more self-service approach to learning about product and service options on their own.
As white papers, ebooks, and other demand generation assets become more important in the buyer’s journey, it’s more urgent than ever for sales reps to advance marketing qualified leads quickly through the sales cycle. Here are four steps every sales and marketing team can take to move more quickly on qualified inbound leads.
1. Join forces.
Sales and marketing are always perfectly aligned- oh wait, that was a beautiful dream I had (I also won the lottery and could fly...). In reality, most companies have a lot of work to do to align sales and marketing. In fact, 78% of sales leaders now think they rely on marketing for leads, but actually reps are ignoring 50% of their marketing qualified leads. Why is there such a disconnect?
It’s time we realize we’re all in pursuit of the same goal.
The problem is, sometimes there are more inbound leads than sales teams have capacity for. It’s key that you designate some sales reps specifically to follow up on inbound leads. Even if you designate that certain reps spend only 50% of the time doing this. Catch them while they’re thinking of you - our market development leads make it a point to respond to inbound leads within ten minutes or less.
Your inbound leads are literally seeking YOU out. They’ve walked up to your door, rang your doorbell, and are standing in the cold on your front porch saying “nurture me”. Don’t abandon them when they need you.
2. Scale up.
If you’re a sales rep and you’re still chasing inbound leads the old way, you’ll lose — even if you have the best process in the world, and your reps follow up with every lead every single time. Why? Because your team will have to work with each lead one at a time, spending hours writing emails and copy/pasting, without even being able to measure results.
Scaling up doesn’t mean you have to hire a team of 20 new reps to follow up on inbound leads. Rather, I mean scale your process so you’re not wasting time on repetitive tasks that don’t foster a connection with your leads.
Automate the tedious elements, like copying and pasting follow up emails, so your sales team can spend those precious hours personalizing their interactions with actually interested leads. By adding your inbound leads to tailored sequences, based on their industry and the way they came through your pipeline, you can send a message that’s personal enough to resonate with their needs and open the conversation, but you can reach out at scale.
3. Act now, qualify later.
A lot of times sales reps won’t act on leads from demand generation teams because they’re “not qualified”. How do you know they’re not qualified unless you ask?! Your prospect might not fit the persona you think you’re after, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good leads. After all, some of Outreach’s most amazing power users include a content marketing team and a recruiting firm!
This is where automation is key. When you have 500 inbound leads coming your way and you don’t know who’s the most qualified, automating that initial outreach helps you quickly sift through who was serious and who just wanted to download some light beach reading about sales. Send out an initial sales email to your lead to set up a meeting, and then immediately drop them into a follow up sequence. That way, you’ve taken the first step and you don’t have to remember who of your 500 prospects replied, vs. who needs an extra nudge. If it turns out someone really did just want a page turner for their flight to Cabo, you didn’t waste hours worrying about them.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t score leads when you can. While you should never assume a lead is unqualified, there might be leads who stand out as being particularly strong. If you have lead scoring, industry data, or persona or title information, route your prospect into a more personalized, hands on sequence to invest your selling efforts in a way that’s more likely to pay off.
Once you know whether the lead is interested (whether you hear back from this outreach), you can decide whether to advance them into a sequence to schedule a demo for them or, if they’re unresponsive, keep them in your marketing pipeline and continue to nurture them with content they’ll find valuable.
4. Let the numbers speak for themselves.
At the end of the day, it’s important to use data to determine if your team’s demand generation efforts are actually bringing you qualified inbound leads or not. If marketing qualifies 1,000 leads this month, and none convert despite strong sales outreach, marketing can reevaluate the way they’re qualifying leads or the content they’re sharing. However, say a sales team receives 1,000 marketing qualified leads, only reaches out to 300, and 250 leads convert to demos or purchases, the sales team can prioritize working through these qualified inbound leads. However, you’ll never know what’s going on with your leads unless you take a step back and analyze your performance. Remember, we’re working towards the same goal, so it’s important to work closely together to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
When it comes to acting on inbound sales leads, sales and marketing teams confront some ugly truths. But the lead-generation efforts from marketing are wasted if sales reps don’t have a scalable, measurable way to nurture those leads. Sales teams need to be able to automate and prioritize to unearth the diamonds and quickly move those opportunities downstream in the sales process, while both teams need to be able to share data to quickly measure results and reevaluate strategies. At the end of the day, sales and marketing are in greater alignment, with less pain between them. Who wouldn’t want that?