Going beyond the sales lead

Ultimately, the purpose of B2B marketing is to help the sales team sell. But marketers often get so wrapped up in driving activity that they seem to forget it’s about driving sales conversion.

For example, ask most executives and marketers what sales people need and they will say, “more leads.” Your sales people don’t want more leads actually, what they want is “more effective selling time.” It’s not about more activity. It’s about helping the sales team achieve better results.

After working with hundreds of sales people and seeing their sales processes first hand, I frequently hear this “stuck point.” They often ask, “How do I advance the lead when there isn’t an immediate need?” Sales people are often stuck wondering, “What else can I talk to them about?”

With out your input, sales people often resort to boring or irrelevant messaging that don’t position them as trusted advisors. Phone calls such as, “I’m just calling to touch base” or emails that say, “I’m just checking in…” are like saying “Are you ready to buy yet?”  This is not because they lack creatively, it a simple matter of time or perspective. Sales people need to spend their time selling, not building content and messaging.

With or without your knowledge, sales reps are altering your messaging and creating their own collateral. Remember: The first impression matters.  So does the second.  So does every single touch after that. This is especially true with complex sales that require multiple conversations on the phone before you may get your first face to face meeting in the later stages of their buying process.

B2B marketers need to do more for their sales team than just throwing leads over the wall. If marketing wants to view sales as their customer, they need to be much more involved from the customer’s perspective to understand their buying process and go beyond the lead.  This is an opportunity for marketing leaders to shine.

To do this you need to be thinking strategically, which involves getting more than one perspective. That means that sales must provide input to marketing (and marketing needs to accept and value the input) on the development of things such as sales collateral, white papers, case studies, articles, advertising, e-mail campaigns, value proposition development etc. as a joint team.  It also means getting out in the field with your team to really understand how you can help them sell.

If you go beyond the lead, you’ll generate much greater return from your lead generation investment and you’ll be doing what you’re meant to do… help the sales team sell.

Here’s 9 ideas to help you go beyond the lead:

  1. Build a library of selling and nurturing content specifically designed for you sales team. (The content does not have to be flashy, just relevant.)
  2. Make the content library easily accessible. 
  3. Use the phone to qualify all inquiries before sending them to the sales team.
  4. Establish a clear process for handling and distributing leads.
  5. Leverage your CRM system to create a lead management process.
  6. Distribute leads rapidly.
  7. Expect your sales team to follow up on each lead promptly.
  8. Measure sales lead acceptance and follow up by sales team.
  9. Close the loop with your sales team regularly.
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