Now that you’re all caught up on how the sales/marketing relationship has evolved, it’s time to talk specifics. How can you ensure that you’re using as much sales intelligence in your marketing as possible? What KPIs should we be focusing on, and how do those shift over time? What tools can you use to track all of this information?
I also want to discuss how you as a marketer can continue to improve on your efforts once you’ve cracked the basic code. “Good Enough” is never good enough – you can’t let your strategy get stale. More on that later.
Understanding your team’s sale cycle and how leads progress through that cycle is one of the most important steps to proper attribution and optimization. Once a lead gets passed from marketing to sales, what happens?
In technical terms that leads become an MQL – Marketing Qualified Leads. The specific definition can vary a bit from business to business, but “MQL” generally refers to a person that has gone through the steps needed to get in touch with the sales team. They were influenced enough by marketing messaging through ads, emails, the website, etc. to get in touch with the sales team. Marketing Qualified.
The next step is (generally) for a sales administrator to do some digging on the MQLs being sent through. If any don’t fit the profile for a potential customer, they get disqualified. The marketer should take a look at which leads get disqualified and where they came from in an effort to reduce the number of DQ’d leads. The leads that make it past this point become SQLs (Sales Qualified Lead). They took the actions they needed to take to get in touch, and they fit the general profile of who you’re selling to.
Next up, SALs (Sales Accepted Leads). This is where BANT comes in – the salespeople get in touch with the leads and figure out if they have the budget, authority, need, and timeline needed to make a sale. As I mentioned in Part 1, we as marketers can do a bit of research into the business/person that submitted themselves as a lead to start getting a feel for BANT, but this is where the salespeople dig into specifics. Once the salesperson verifies that a lead has at least some of the correct signals from BANT, they “accept’ the lead and we officially generate an SAL. This process is also referred to “converting” a lead into an “opportunity.”
From here, opportunities are worked through the final sales pipeline. This may mean getting them onto a demo software, presenting a savings assessment, or selling a small part of the overall service. Some opportunities go cold, but hopefully many are having productive conversations with your sales teams.
It’s important to understand how long this sales process can take once a lead becomes an SAL/opportunity and how the number of leads change throughout each step in the sales process. If it takes 4 months to take an opportunity from SAL to Closed Won, it’s our responsibility as marketers to figure out leading signals of success in the sales process that we can begin to optimize toward.
What sort of conversations are your salespeople having? Is there a step early in the sales process that shows high intent to buy (like implementing a demo or providing information to do an assessment)? Which of your efforts are driving the best conversations/leading signals? What pivots can you make early?
Lucky for us, quite a few companies have created sales software also known as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to track all of this in detail – Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho to name a few of the big ones, but there are many more. Your efforts are only as good as the information you’re being given, so make sure your sales team uses the CRM to its fullest extent. They can leave notes about the conversations they’re having with leads, how it’s progressing in the funnel, even potential revenue to be gained if the deal closes (pipeline revenue).
Get as familiar as you can with your company’s CRM. You should be in it every day checking in on the status of your pipeline, progress of deals, and any new opportunities that are being created/converted.
Once you’re set up to track all that information, we can figure out the “conversion ratios” for each step in the funnel. How much of our traffic turns into and MQL? How many MQLs move to SQL? SQL to SAL? SAL to Demo/Assessment? What percent of opportunities do we close? What’s the average deal size? How many are lost?
Set a baseline, and track. Your optimizations should focus on increasing these ratios to increase the amount of revenue generated at the bottom of the funnel. Once you start getting a decent amount of volume, you can start segmenting all of these KPIs by channel to understand what the most efficient use of your resources are.