With social, marketing professionals are under increasing pressure to master the art of real-time, data-driven, personalized marketing that’s consistent in each channel in order to generate qualified, sales-ready leads. As a member of a real time marketing team, you are charged with listening to your market and engaging with prospects and customers at the moment they need and in the channel of their choice. But according to a RainToday.com report, less than 25% of new leads are sales-ready.
So how do you know when it’s time to make the call? How do you nurture and close the remaining 75%? It comes down to tracking a prospect through these interactions and scoring them based on assumptions of their stage in the purchasing cycle.
What is Lead Scoring and Why Do I Need It?
Lead scoring is the function of the lead nurturing program that marketing and sales agree to use to rank the sales readiness of a prospect. Leads are qualified based on the interest they show in your product or service, their current position in the buying cycle and their product-market fit. Marketers can score leads by assigning points, implementing rankings like A, B, C, or using terms like ‘hot’, ‘warm’ or ‘cold’.
The ultimate goal is combine the functions of sales and marketing to improve the efficiency and productivity and speed to purchase.
Lead scoring can also determine whether prospects need to be fast-tracked to sales or further developed with lead nurturing. The best lead scoring systems use the following data:
- Demographic and firmographic attributes such as company size, industry, and job title.
- Behavioral scoring such as clicks, keywords, and web visits.
- Socialgraphics such as channel usage, social behaviors, informational preferences, and peer and social influence.
Failing to qualify prospects and emphasizing lead volume over lead quality reduces sales efficiency, increases campaign costs, and fuels the gap between sales and marketing.
3 Steps to a Successful Lead Nurturing Program
Developing a lead nurturing program can be broken down into the following practices:
Lead Capture: Finding Balance Between Lead Quantity & Quality
Lead capture describes the steps for which a marketer creates and optimizes the perfect lead capture strategy by identifying goals and prioritizing based on resources, budget, and other channel utilization – including social. It involves the following:
- Developing a lead generation plan.
- Identifying buyer personas and target audiences.
- Selecting an ideal mix of inbound and outbound marketing channel utilization.
- Developing a measurement methodology and KPIs that allow for the performance tracking of these interactions for further refinement and optimization.
Lead Qualification: Distinguishing Between Sales-Ready Leads & Unqualified Prospects
The next step involves the management of lead flow into your marketing automation and/or CRM systems. Since not all leads are created equal, there must be an agreement between marketing and sales as to how to define a qualified lead. This critical step requires the following information to be captured and defined:
- How will leads be identified and qualified?
- How will leads utilize channels and information throughout the sales funnel?
- What is your universal lead definition?
- What methodology will support lead scoring?
- How will leads be qualified for sales vs. nurturing?
Lead Nurturing: The Art of Nurturing Prospects and Converting into Knowledgeable Customers
When leads aren’t ‘sales-ready’ for direct interaction with a salesperson, the next step involves the development of specific lead nurturing campaigns that will continually nurture leads until they are ready to speak with the sales team. Lead nurturing can be used as an additional channel to drive qualified leads and/or as a way to re-engage dormant sales opportunities and requires the following:
- Defining nurture segments of a campaign.
- The development of content to support engagement and education.
- Teleprospecting live sales opportunities based on “pain” being experienced by the target market.
- The identification of strategic touch points, communications and timing in preferential channels including social.
- The continual optimization of lead nurture campaigns based on performance.
Key Takeaways: An Integrated Approach to Hand Off
In conclusion, make sure your social channels are fully branded, optimized and integrated with each other and your other channels because this will ultimately drive the best intelligence about your target audience and your ability to attract, nurture, sell and evangelize them.
Remember, when handing off a lead, make sure the information about how the lead was nurtured be included to further enable the sales team to convert the prospect into a customer – such as what marketing activities the prospect has responded to and which product they are likely to purchase based on responses to date.
Finally, the most important practice of lead nurturing is the continual evaluation of lead campaigns and the accuracy of your lead scoring program. Ultimately, by continually evaluating leads, you can adjust your campaigns based on the needs of current business conditions and ensure that leads that don’t close are recycled back into marketing for further nurturing.
Additions & Feedback
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