If you’re in the marketing or communications field, you’ve likely heard about the importance of customer relationships and the buyer’s journey from awareness to the decision. For businesses focused on growing new revenue, marketing should consider its role as being a wingman to help sales “seal the deal” with your target persona. As you’re approaching a potential new prospect, you wouldn’t want sales to overwhelm or scare that target buyer away, right? Marketing must take the first step to attract prospects, learn their behaviors and make a connection with the ones that are truly qualified leads. If marketing determines that a prospect is a right-fit or qualified lead, they pass the contact along for sales to pursue and close the deal. Although this is ideally how sales and marketing should work together, it’s important to keep in mind that there are times when the marketing wingman can leave sales out to dry if the lead isn’t quite ready to purchase, resulting in missed opportunities.
First Impressions Aren’t Everything
As a demand generation powerhouse, performance metrics like an increase in site visits, declining bounce rate and surge in content downloads or conversions clearly indicate that you’re attracting and engaging the right people. However, even the most effective lead generation strategies and SEO-driven inbound marketing campaigns, unfortunately, won’t close deals or secure new revenue on their own.
According to our friends at MarketingSherpa, 79% of leads never convert into a sale, so before you fire your lead generation agency when sales growth isn’t aligning with lead gen performance, consider the relationship that exists between your company and qualified leads. Was your lead close to the decision stage of the buyer’s journey before you handed them off to sales, or were they just in the initial awareness stage? As a marketing wingman, it is your job to attract prospects and cultivate relationships with leads until they are sales-ready. Attracting prospects is only the first step.
Marketing Wingman Fail
If you’ve fulfilled your initial duties as a marketing wingman, you’ve likely attracted your target persona with flashy top-of-funnel content that taught them something new and might even have helped make their life better or job easier. Then, once you learned this prospect’s name, email and the company prospect works for, you paid attention to the prospect’s behaviors across your website and determined the prospect is a qualified lead. You then left the lead in sales’ hands so that you could focus on attracting new prospects and generating more leads. The problem is, 96% of visitors browsing your site are not ready to buy according to our friends at Marketo. Therefore, as the marketing and communications leader for your organization, you must ensure that your lead generation agency and internal teams are continuously “courting” existing leads with fresh content that is relevant to them. Otherwise, you risk losing your lead to a competitor when they’re ready to purchase.
Your leads want to know that they’re top of mind. Do you really want to see your top target account’s logo on your competitor’s site because you failed to follow up? For lead generation to successfully support sales, marketing cannot take initial engagements and conversions for granted.
Setting Up Sales to Score
Remember, your competitors are pursuing your prospects as well. Therefore, once you have reached and engaged the appropriate decision-maker, continuously nurture them with content that offers value (like a white paper or tip sheet) and reminds them why your brand, solutions and/or products are the best of the best (like case studies, awards and other third-party validators). It is important to make sure your lead generation agency and/or internal content marketing team is using analytics to monitor how frequently your prospects are engaging and receiving your latest content. Once you have a good understanding of the topics and kinds of content that your most qualified leads care about, you can manage ongoing, automatic touch points efficiently with marketing automation.
For marketing to be the perfect wingman, it must nurture leads through the awareness and decision stages of their buyer’s journey, which then sets sales up for success once prospects are ready to make buying decisions. That way, when it’s time for customers and prospects to purchase, you’ve already cultivated a relationship during the three, six or even 18 months from the time they initially clicked their way into your CRM.
For more tips on how to leverage PR and marketing to not only #DriveLeads, but help sales #CloseDeals, download our Inbound Marketing white paper.
Jennifer Blackburn is senior account manager and research & analytics whiz at ARPR. Jennifer has a knack for helping clients #DriveLeads through capitalizing on thought leadership & industry trade media opportunities that boost website conversions and has also managed social media and PPC campaigns that have consistently performed above industry standards.