Are you struggling to turn your B2B leads into sales? Does marketing blame sales for the problem or does sales blame marketing? In either event, you’re not alone.
Take a look at this alarming statistic from MarketingSherpa:
“73% of all B2B leads are not sales ready”
If we break it down, this means that if leads generated by Marketing are sent directly to Sales, only a quarter of them are ready to buy. This makes both Marketing and Sales look bad.
No wonder the old rivalry between the two departments still rages on.
If there were such a thing as Marketing and Sales couple’s therapy, the first step to alignment would be acknowledging there is a problem.
In this article, we've laid out eight of these problems for you. Hopefully, we’ve also given you some guidance on how to solve them.
Even if you act as both the marketing and sales departments for your company, you should find a few helpful nuggets to help you close more of those hard earned leads.
1. The Leads You’re Generating Aren’t Qualified
To find qualified leads, you first have to know who your ideal customers and clients are.
Without this knowledge, you’ll be blindly barking up tree after tree, never knowing which is right and which is wrong.
This is where buyer personas come into play. In reality, you need to know at least three things:
- What industry your ideal customer is in
- How much revenue they bring in per year, so you know if they can afford your service
- What they’re biggest issues are (which your service can solve)
Then, you need to figure out where they hang out online and what content would attract them.
To do this, talk to your existing customers, scour through LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, Google+ communities, forums, and search engines.
Take note of these key things:
- The questions that pop up over and over again
- The biggest problems these people are having
- Who these people are. What are the character traits? Where do they hang out online? What interests them the most?
- Anything that will help you better understand the people you’re marketing to
Spend a day gathering data on your ideal customer. What you’re building is in-depth buyer personas, so the content you create will be targeted towards them.
Look at the thread categories. Those are topics of major interest for your target market.
Go through these topics and pick out the issues that pop up again and again. Really get to know the people you’re marketing to. Then, create content that solves these issues better than any of the other content out there, and distribute it where your ideal customers hang out.
The leads you generate with this content will be qualified, because you have attracted the exact people who suffer from the problems your service can solve.
2. Your Leads Are in the Beginning or Middle of the Buying Cycle
If your leads aren’t ready to buy, you might be going for the sale too early.
Or, they have not received enough valuable content to trust your authority.
Content isn’t delivered to your leads for no reason. It has the specific purpose of removing buyer’s remorse.
This content has to build trust in your prospects, and it has to give them confidence your product or service will deliver on its promises.
Every buyer has one major concern: “Will this product or service solve my problem?”
Your content has to let them know, without a shadow of a doubt, that your product will deliver on its promises. They need to know they will get their money’s worth.
For example, let’s say your sales funnel consists of a simple email autoresponder that’s triggered once a prospect opts in.
What you could do next is set up an email nurturing phase. As an example, here’s a 6-part email nurturing phase you can use as a framework:
(The one you create will have to be tailored to your prospect’s specific buying cycle)
The first 3 parts should be in-depth, problem-solving pieces of content that blow your prospects away with the value they provide. These three emails break down the possibility of buyer’s remorse.
The fourth email should hint at an offer coming in a later email, but with a special bonus for email subscribers.
The fifth email should present another piece of content, and introduce the special bonus that goes along with the offer.
The final email should present the offer and fully detail the bonus. It should also give prospects a limited window of opportunity to accept the offer before the bonus goes away.
Your final offer could be a free trial of your software. It could be a product. It could simply be the next step in the sales funnel. Whatever it is, your conversion rate will be much higher because of the valuable content you sent out beforehand.
The process is designed to take your prospects on a journey. This journey solves their problems, it educates them, and shows them way to overcome their problems. Finally, it asks for the sale, free demo, free quote, etc.
3. You’re Scaring Your Leads Away by Asking for Too Much Information
The more information you know about your leads, the better you’ll be able to run targeted marketing campaigns with a higher likelihood of closing sales.
One way to do this is to ask for a small amount of information when a prospect first enters your funnel, like a name and email address. Asking for as little information as possible up front will increase the chances of acquiring them as a lead.
Then, when they download subsequent pieces of content or access other parts of the funnel, ask them to provide more detailed information.
In the beginning, the offer should be off higher value than the amount of information your prospects are giving up. Overall, the information you’re asking for should at least match the value of the offer.
You can use this information to create segmented marketing campaigns that target the specific needs of your audience.
To get a different perspective on who your leads are, you can also view your site stats, including which content they’re downloading most. Then, use the trends in those statistics to better understand who you’re serving.
4. A Lack of Resources is Holding You Back
Inbound marketing campaigns are multi-faceted.
They’re a combination of web design, content creation, promotion, lead generation, lead nurturing, and copywriting – among other disciplines.
If you don’t have the resources in-house, they can always be outsourced.
There’s only so much you can do yourself. You don’t want to hold yourself back simply because you can’t juggle every aspect of the marketing process.
So don’t be afraid to delegate certain responsibilities to other people.
You might also be struggling to budget enough to your inbound marketing efforts. As the results from inbound marketing are more long term than short term, it can be tough to shell out the initial investment.
However, inbound marketing acts as long term lead generation asset. The content you create and distribute will continue to bring in leads months and years down the line.
Inbound marketing is your safety net, so it’s well worth the initial investment.
5. Sales and Marketing Are Misaligned
One way to communicate better is to route calls to sales reps based on marketing data.
Using a call tracking system, you can gather data specific to that prospect’s behavior. This data can then be used to route calls to reps who specialize in closing those types of buyers.
For example, let’s say a prospect downloads an eBook on buying the right customer support software. When they call in, your call tracking system can direct them to a rep who specializes in selling that software.
To help with accountability, you can encourage Sales to give Marketing feedback on lead quality, so Marketing knows whether they need to step it up the next month. You can also ask sales to provide marketing with the percent of leads worked that month, so Marketing knows their efforts aren’t going to waste.
6. Too Many Leads Are Slipping Out of the Buying Cycle
This is where customer awareness and support makes an impact, even before these leads become customers.
The way your marketing and sales teams respond to inquiries (and issues) gives leads a test drive of what it would be like to be your customers.
This system has to be fine-tuned. When someone requests help with their free trial, a member of your team has to be by the phone ready to help. When there’s an issue with a download, support needs to be ready to assist them.
“More than two-thirds of 2,000 consumers who encountered a customer service/customer experience issue on a brand’s website left the site or visited a competitor” - 2014 IBM Digital Customer Experience Report
7. You’re Not Utilizing Your Current Lead Database
You might have hot leads sitting on your doorstep, yet you’ve been focusing so intently on generating new leads, you forgot they were there.
Try pouring more resources into nurturing the leads you already have rather than generating new ones.
Send them some special offers. Offer your support for a certain feature. Give them tips to help them with a piece of software.
Odds are, once you figure out how to better convert your current leads into sales, you’ll figure out what you’re missing when trying to convert new leads.
8. You Can be a Pro Marketer or Salesman, but Not Both
This is the ultimate qualm of the Marketing and Sales “Jack of all trades” who runs both departments for their company.
To solve this problem, beef up your knowledge in the area you lack.
The Internet is full of free and paid resources to help you learn what you need to.
Is a Happy Marriage Possible?
Your leads might not be turning into sales for many reasons.
However, you’ve taken the first step in our Marketing and Sales couple’s therapy. You’re aware of the problems, and you’ve got some direction to help you implement the solutions.
So, is a happy marketing and sales marriage possible?
Yes, it certainly is. All it takes is a deeper understanding of how the two relate, and the right action steps to take to correct any misalignment.
Now that you have some ideas on mistakes that you may be making, take a few minutes to read up on some ideas to generate more sales leads. Our friends at Leadfeeder have a great article on "18 Ways To Generate More B2B Sales Leads."
Give it a read!
Author of The Content Marketing Guidebook | Content Marketing, SEO, Traffic