B2B CMO’s have guided your teams to generate enough leads for the sales team to exceed the revenue objectives. However, conversion rates are declining and marketing activity is not equating to success on the revenue side. This gap is getting larger as prospect personas are leaking out of the top of the funnels at an alarming rate. Have your marketing processes evolved with buyers? Successful engagement at the top of funnel requires a buyer-centered approach. To follow along, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017 and turn to the lead generation phase on pages 218 – 226 of the PDF.
Why Lead Management at the Top of the Funnel Must Evolve
The buying process is not linear, and never has been. Yet almost all lead management processes are linear. With companies increasing the effectiveness at early stage engagement, so have expectations. Prospects need to be persuaded through 1:1 engagement with lead development reps and quality content. The old way of pushing content at them results in the top-of-funnel crunch. There is a better way.
Most lead management processes are designed around a common path. Detailed steps are documented for lead development representatives to engage prospects. This has worked because buyers do follow common decision making frameworks. The psychology of a buyer makes them highly predictable. We can anticipate their steps of the buying process with great reliability.
However, the way a buyer chooses to interact through that journey varies significantly.
- There is great variation to when a prospect chooses to respond to an inbound call or email.
- How fast they move at any given time is subject to other priorities.
- Openness to sharing information is largely determined by time demands of the moment.
A linear process places pressure on Lead Development Representatives to think on the fly and improvise. This results in erosion of process as reps freelance. Lower overall conversion rates impact Marketing’s ability to contribute revenue.
Dynamic Lead Management
Evolving with buyers requires a regular update to your processes. Lead Development Reps (LDRs) are able to benchmark their performance against others. Successful techniques and objection handling can be shared across the team. Teams who execute a planned cadence have better results than ad hoc approach. A ‘dynamic’ process gives you flexibility within a framework.
The first part of lead management is the initial conversation. Once a form fill is received, the hardest part is connecting with the prospect. This is done through a series of phone calls and emails. Optimum cadence is normally six to seven attempts. At any point the prospect may answer the phone, but if not then a voicemail is left. The voicemails are crisp 30-second messages, with each message varying. The call is followed by an email.
Once the connection is made then the process shifts to 1:1 Nurturing. The path forward is determined based on buyer-driven interest. There are five options for determining the future nurture path forward:
Option 1: Grade – this is the demographic (individual) and firmographic (company) fit to your ideal profile. This is an Inward>Out approach based on how much you desire them. Do not recommend.
Option 2: Score – this is the level of interest of the prospect. This is determined by the amount and type of content they have consumed. This is an Outward>In but its weakness is chasing good and bad leads alike. Do not recommend.
Option 3: Grade and Score Combination – The intersection of the Grade and Score provide the right balance. Recommended to start with only if operating with automation and without a LDR.
Option 4: Lead Development Rep Decision Criteria – The LDR is given criteria to determine the path once they have connected with the buyer. In their first conversation (via phone, livechat, or email) the LDR determines if they have immediate, medium or low interest. The nurture path is then determined based on the pace of the buyer. As a buyer responds to the nurturing, then the path is reassessed. Recommended to begin when operating with a LDR. Transition to Option 5 as data analysis reveals direct correlations.
Option 5: Predictive Modeling – Develop a formula based on the results of analyzing successful leads. Recommended for advanced marketers. The formula components to evaluate consist of the following:
- Grade and/or Score
- IP Look-up results (is this a company IP?)
- Work email vs. personal email
- Completeness of profile (% of optional fields completed)
- Website engagement (Duration, Quantity of unique visits, Shared content, etc.)
- Quantity of touch-points (Attribution of email, website, direct mail, tradeshow, etc.)
- Recycled lead from previous campaigns
Once you develop the predictive model, then the nurture path is determined based on past success. Rolling forward response rates improve as data insights reveal the ideal fit.
Start by retooling your plan for your Lead management process. This is a major gap for most B2B marketing teams. Download the Dynamic Lead Nurturing Process to increase customer acquisition. If you need more help, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Turn to pages 218 – 226 of the PDF to review the Lead Generation phase in the workbook. To request a workshop with Randall LaVeau complete this form to request a workshop.