27th May, 2021
, , Designation
- Businesses need to gain a better understanding of the journey from MQL (marketing qualified leads) to SQL (Sales qualified leads)
- We need to focus lead handoff after the BANT criteria is fulfilled.
- Sales needs to provide feedback to marketing on lead quality for future learning
- Marketing needs to hand off leads in four effective steps.
COVID-19 pandemic has altered the market dynamics radically. It implies that the marketing and sales tactics you employed a few months before the pandemic may not offer expected results in these changing times.
So, as a first step, the enterprises should start focusing on the new opportunities that have emerged amid pandemic, like:
- Remote and virtual selling
- Focusing on digital aspects instead of traditional transitions
- Cloud transition, etc.
A focus on aligning sales practices to customer journey
But, in order to get started with the new opportunities, it is vital that the businesses gain a better understanding of the journey from MQL (marketing qualified leads) to SQL (Sales qualified leads). This is because, for every enterprise, lead conversion is the biggest challenge. By sealing your knowledge gap from MQL to SQL, you can uncover the secrets of better lead conversions into opportunities.
What does the “light at the end of the lead tunnel” exactly mean?
In a normal business venture, the marketing team invests a lot of efforts, time and dollars in creating awareness of the brand, product or services to generate leads so that the sales team can utilize and drive to closure.
While adding the efforts, the marketing teams employ various marketing tactics from the:
- TOFU (top of the funnel) : This tactic includes the usage of social media, infographics, blogs, videos, quiz and even e-book/whitepaper for digital marketing purposes.
- MOFU (middle of the funnel) : The marketing team can utilize blogs, case study, whitepaper, email drip, how-to-content/guides to spread brand awareness.
- BOFU (bottom of the funnel) : The marketing team can use testimonials, case studies, offer a free trial, do product comparison, etc., to expand the reach.
Regardless of which tactic the marketing team applies, the notion here is to identify the tendencies of the customers, their interest in the product, services or solution while capturing the customer’s intent and interest.
The marketing team then identifies the qualified lead under BANT criteria:
- Budget : If the client has enough budget
- Authority : Does the client in contact has decision making power
- Need : Does the client have the need for the products?
- Timeline : Will the client buy the product within a certain time?
Once the data is generated, the same is handed over to the sales team. Even the sales team can proceed with aligning their pitch to the client based on the BANT criteria. Then the sales team moves ahead by utilizing proper methods to pursue the leads, or better, successfully close the leads. And this means their priority lies with the sales part, thus, neglecting the feedbacks that should go back to the marketing team about the leads.
With improper feedbacks, there is darkness and confusion.
But, when the sales team offers proper feedbacks on the outcome, the marketing team gets a better idea of where to focus next time. This process, in turn, creates visibility, offering light at the end of the lead tunnel.
Importance of this approach
When it comes to acquiring leads, the marketing team usually scans a vast market to gather the leads. Based on the product value proposition, the marketing team can initially acquire 1600 or even 16,000 leads. After going through a propensity model, the marketing team would have just qualified 16 leads.
Later with the help of BANT criteria, the marketing team may qualify only 50% MQL leads, that is, 8. And it isn’t possible that all of these 50% leads may close successfully. Based on the sales pitching, there may only be 4 SQL leads. Likewise, the sales rep may have pitched details to 2 customers but may have pursued only one to purchase the solution.
So, basically, this situation says that there is a lot of time, efforts and money invested in the Demand generation campaign to close one successful lead.
If the sales team starts offering real-time feedback to the marketing team, then the marketing team will have the opportunity to adapt to the market conditions in the right way, thus, adjusting the marketing campaign as per the on-ground perspective.
How to manage this approach?
One of the first steps towards generating positive ROIs after the Demand generation campaign is doing proper follow-ups on the SQLs, or else every effort, time and money invested in the campaign will go down the drain.
Similarly, the marketer cannot raise his/her hand once the lead is passed on to the sales team. In order to gain better ROIs, both the sales and marketing team needs to work in cohesion.
Likewise, there should be an effective lead handoff. Let’s see how that can be done in four effective steps:
Lead Maturity: The marketing team should utilize qualification criteria like BANT to qualify the leads. Once the BOM is finalized, and the leads are qualified, only then transfer it to the partner. The list should also qualify based on the key decision-maker.
End-to-end collaboration: Once the leads are handed, the sales team should ensure to define the follow-up process. The ISR should also offer a proof of concept demo along with the partner.
Information transfer: The insides sales rep should also capture detailed engagement history with each lead. They must also highlight the questions and requirements of the customer. Then there should be open communication between the inside sales representative and the partner till the lead is closed.
Handoff process: There should be an effective tracking process during each step, followed by clearly defining the handoffs with KPIs and ownerships. There should be a joint introduction to connect with the customers effectively.
By following a structurally planned approach, the enterprise can close the deals faster. Proper automation of manual process in place can result in increased team productivity while improving partner satisfaction.
Don’t lose sight of the end game
Well, it is evident from the blog that lack of visibility in the journey from MQL to SQL can result in dropped leads, hindering the overall pipeline created for the sales team. Following the suggested approach will throw the light and increase the visibility of lead progress, thereby getting everyone, right from demand generation agency, to partners and marketers, on the same page.