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Internal Closed Loop Processes to Support Sales and Lead Nurturing

Internal Closed Loop Processes to Support Sales and Lead Nurturing

A Sales Support/Marketing group that is identifying potential leads, creating relationships and moving prospects through the buying cycle to lead status is paving the way for your Sales group to focus on closing well-qualified leads.

Moving beyond the normal responsibilities of ads, collateral, press releases, etc and taking on the responsibilities of not only generating leads but taking responsibility for the upper half of the sales funnel, becomes the key component in integrating Sales and Marketing into a highly effective and symbiotic entity.

The key to bringing this entity to life is establishing the internal processes and procedure that ensure good communication and the smooth handoff of leads to sales at the appropriate time.

Sales and Marketing must sit down together and determine a mutually agreed-upon set of criteria to define leads- Hot, Warm, Cool, Short, Medium, Long-term, A-B-C… whatever your nomenclature is. Include IT is these meetings to ensure your CRM or Customer Database is modified to capture this info moving forward. Criteria to include and agree upon for each lead status should include but is not limited to:

1)    Primary Prospect information: Name. Title, Address, Phone, Email

a.    What Title(s) and how many prospective leads do you need to classify as an A Lead? B Lead?

2)    Timeframe

a.    What is the purchase timeframe relative to your sales cycle for an A Lead, etc.

3)    Budget

4)    Role: Decision-maker, Influencer, Internal Champion, etc.

a.    What is the minimum identified to be an A Lead, etc.

5)    Pain points: Identified and perceived

a.    Define Pain points relative to your Value Proposition. What needs to be present for your solution/product to have perceived value? How many need to be present to be an A Lead, B Lead, etc.

6)    Additional Influencers and Decision-Makers: Include all prospect information

a.    Do you need/want to have additional players identified (Operations, IT, Finance, etc)? Which ones are relevant to the decision to purchase your offering? Which ones are needed to be classified an A Lead, etc?

7)    Detailed notes from conversations, emails, etc with all prospects. Include notes and comments from your employee/agent that participated in the call or meeting to clarify and emphasize important elements. Remember the Sales Rep wasn’t there to hear nuances, tone, emotion, etc.

And certainly don’t forget to define equally as stringently Leads that are:

1)    Not Qualified/No Interest (what criteria makes them DQ- Size? Revenue?

 # Employees? Industry? Technology stack?

2)    Qualified-No Interest

3)    Not Qualified/Interested -Pay it forward! Pass these on to a business partner!

4)    Wrong Info, Bad Info, Do Not Call, etc. You need to keep your database clean and have a way to scrub against incoming leads, lists, etc to avoid spending time on previously disqualified leads.

Once defined, Sales and Marketing need to agree on what actions take place when a prospect is identified and placed into a category or transitions from one category to another, and who is responsible for making sure it happens. 

Pretty simple stuff…  Until you actually try to put it on paper!

So get it all defined in advance of implementing  a new process. You are asking for trouble (and lost sales) if you try to do it on the fly. And don’t forget to close the loop! What happens to leads that become dormant, inactive, die? Establish criteria for returning leads from Sales to Marketing. Make sure the information on why the lead is being returned is as detailed as the info you require to make it a lead. Those are still qualified prospects and MUST go into your Lead Nurturing program.

While you don’t want to try to define things on the fly, it is unrealistic to assume you won’t need to make adjustments. It is even more likely there will be prospects which don’t fit neatly into your pre-defined categories. This is where internal communication is most vital.

Encourage and promote open dialog between not just your department heads, but your sales and marketing staff and managers.  A quick call from a Marketing Rep to a Sales Rep can answer questions that help put that square peg lead in the round hole.  Likewise, a quick call from a Sales Rep to the Marketing Rep that sent up a lead can clarify unclear or ambiguous info contained in a lead.  

Notice I said “call” not “email” or “text”. Just like establishing a relationship with a prospect is good for business, establishing relationships between your individual sales and marketing staff is great for business! As a Manager or Department Head promoting this communication will quickly establish it as routine. Sales Reps will quickly learn their best friend is Marketing Rep.  

Next time: Tackling Lead Nurturing