The answer is Yes. But, go gentle with a planned, oiled nurturing strategy.
We are living in a world where marketing and sales agents can reach prospects at every physical and digital channel or touchpoint. Despite this, fourquadrant, a site run by known marketer Peter Buscemi, reports that only 7% of responses or enquiries converts to become marketing qualifying leads (we all call them as MQLs). Post this, only 31% of this seven percent converts to become sales qualifying leads (SQLs). 46% of this thirty-one percent converts to be classified as forecasted deals and at last, 34% of the forecasted deals converts as closed deals or customers.
Confused by the percentage game? Let’s do a simple maths to understand this.
Let’s say, a business receives 1000 responses or inquiries in a month.
As per the above report, the number of MQLs will be 70 (7% of 1000) and SQLs will be 20 (31% of 70). Further, number of forecasted deals will be 9 (46% of 20) and closures will be around 3-4 (34% of 9).
We observe that: –
- There is a huge scope of improvement in the MQL conversion percentage. So, marketers have still their work cut out in this aspect. If you wish to get quality leads right in the beginning of your sales funnel, you can read our post on how to improve MQL%.
- SQL to final closure or prospecting to closure percentage is ~10% (20 to 3-4). This figure can be definitely improved. Definitely, sales agents and managers still find prospecting a major challenge.
- MQLs are not properly nurtured and few prospects might be forced to take a customer call, while they are still weighing their options. This results in increase in a number of MQLs dropping out from the funnel (we also know this as lead leakage).
- Interestingly, the situation mentioned in #3 is vice versa also. Many sale-ready customers who urgently wish to make a purchase might be getting over-nurtured because sales agents are not aware if they should contact the customer or not.
With the above analysis, we can say that a deep nurturing strategy is still required at the sales stage to identify real SQLs among the MQLs. Let’s discuss this in a detail here
Step 1 – Track behavioral responses very closely
When a MQL becomes a SQL, you need to track their responses very closely. At this moment, you must not only track the number of clicks, views but go beyond. Primarily, you must be looking into asking the below questions to your prospect: –
- Are they reading your posts, whitepapers in-depth?
- Which type of content they like the most – video, podcast, blog, whitepaper?
- Are they interested in more top, mid, or bottom-funnel content?
- Have they visited your pricing page at any moment? If yes, from which device?
- Do they comment or ask questions on your posts? Can you anticipate urgency in their responses?
- Have they visited your company or your Linkedin or other social media pages?
- Have they reached out to any of your previous customer?
- Is the prospect a decision maker or consultant?
Step 2 –Run a drip service for sales
Next question is, how do you extract the answers to these questions for all your SQLs or prospects? Use drip service in your prospect nurturing. In case, you want to learn more about how a drip campaign works, please read this post.
Classify your content in segments – top, middle, and bottom to track the type of content a SQL is interested in.
Define a unique standard read time for every content piece and track if a SQL is spending the same amount of time. Give similar score if prospect comments frequently in your post or visiting pricing page or doing some other actions which are important for your business.
Ofcourse, you still need to manually track if the SQL or prospect has reached your sales or marketing agent on their Linkedin account. If you have good relationships with existing customers, they might tell you about the inquiry coming from the prospect. Interestingly, you can identify your best loyal customers and try to only advertise or display their testimonials or feedbacks so that a prospect chances of calling them will be much more. It’s a small move, but you may never know can play an important role in prospect nurturing.
For all the above mentioned business processes, you can manage the activities using a drip campaign service and assign a customer score for prospect response on a certain activity. A cumulative score will clear the picture if a SQL is ready and sales can start the selling process or the prospect still needs more nurturing or may not be interested in your products or services at this stage.
Step 3 – Add blended solutions in your prospecting
The cumulative score generated in Step 1 can help you decide if this is the right time to initiate a direct SMS or voice or call interaction with the prospect. For this, you need to have a SMS service, integrated dialer or Click-to-call option in your sales solution. Approach the prospect with a personalized text or voice SMS and give a web link with multiple options (ready for demo, need information to some question, whitepaper requirement) in the SMS. Track prospect responses to qualify SQLs. If a prospect is urgently looking for a solution and has a high customer score, you can use cloud telephony tools like Click-to-call or Click-to-dial feature to call them directly from your sales solution. Click-to-call enables sales agents to just click on a call button to initiate a call. Click-to-dial enables sales agents to use a dialer, enter customer number and start a call.
The Final Takeway: Consider your business policies in qualifying MQLs to SQLs
Though, following Step 1 and 2 can increase your closure rate to go beyond the standard 10%, you need to also factor in your business policies. If your sales cycle length is long or your lead sources are not sending quality MQLs, you may need to discuss internally and re-evaluate your complete marketing and sales funnel along with policies.
Post this, you will start observing a major shift in the number of closures to start building a high-quality sales pipeline.