When I first began digital marketing years ago, perhaps I was one of the ‘rare lucky’ ones, or at least when it comes to most companies & businesses.
I came from a world where my marketing funnel went from Top of Funnel (TOFU), Middle of Funnel(MOFO), to Bottom of Funnel (BOFO). At which point if the potential lead was considered a right lead – and at the ‘BOFU’ they were passed on to the dedicated sales person. Otherwise, as a marketer, it was my job to continue to nurture and work with them through the process to make them become a ‘BOFU’ good lead.
In all actuality, my goal with every single lead I ever received, was to try and nurture them in an online way in every capacity possible before having to have a salesperson get them on the phone – so that I was not wasting my sales person time. My ultimate goal was to make it so that potential lead was so nurtured and aware of whatever product or service we or I provided was so worthwhile, at the point they talked to a salesperson, all the salesperson had to do was say ‘This is the pricing, and this is where you sign.’
Let’s be honest: most true marketers (especially online marketers) weren’t meant to be the sales person. Marketers weren’t expected to be the closers (which is why we have sales staff!). I know for sure that is where I fall short in my weaknesses, and thus that is why I focus solely on generating leads, qualifying them, and then nurturing them. AND THEN – gladly passing them off to my salesperson, who knows how to do demos, who knows how to share pricing without ‘seeking,’ who knows how to say ‘sign on the dotted line.’
For many business owners, companies, and the like – when generating leads in the online world, it’s hard to know when to shift that ‘marketing qualified lead‘ (MQL) to a ‘sales qualified lead’ (SQL), and how to give both credits. Even more so, it’s hard for many to grasp the concept that inbound marketing goes beyond just the initial lead generation.
Inbound marketing is entirely about connecting, collecting, and generating leads. We as inbound marketers are drawing people and leads to whatever company and business through many avenues – paid, social, content, etc. However one of the most significant components that are often misunderstood by business owners is the fact that as inbound marketers, we continue to nurture leads. Whether it’s sending follow up leads. Or it’s actually placing that phone call (which the heck, I don’t like to do, but I often do just so I can know why a client may think not or share how we can be the best option!) It’s about continuing the conversation far past the point of a form fill out at day one.
Inbound Marketing is far past the point of filling out a form.
Sure, I’ve gotten a lead, WOOHOO! I can pass it on to my sales person and count it towards whatever my target goal may be. But are they converting? Are they becoming a sale? Are they becoming a client?
Are They Becoming a Client
This is the most critical question to ask and to have answered – and why it is so important that sales and marketing teams work together (aka smarketing). Because if perhaps a typically qualified “MQL” that turns into a “SQL” but then does not end up becoming a SALE – should you drop the potential lead? Of course not!
However! This means that your sales team and marketing team must be hand in hand in communication and efforts. Perhaps the lead didn’t sell this time. Well, your sales team should tell your marketing team to continue their nurturing process so that probably next time, they do become a sale. That’s not just a win for marketing or sales, that’s a win for the business.
Marketing Can’t Help Sales without Sales Helping Marketing
The point of all of this is this: if marketing passes on a potential lead to sales – but is failed to learn about the follow-up connection – whether that person became a lead or not: why that person DIDN’T become a lead or not, etc. There’s a tremendous missed opportunity for all.
- Marketing cannot continue to nurture the non-qualified lead in the future potential, that could have become a SQL (sales qualified lead).
- Marketing is missing opportunities on possible content, conversations, and failed to potential examples of clients as case studies – all of which reinforces the circle of the success of sales and marketing working together.
The point that I am trying to make – and any marketer and salesperson together should ever make, is that there needs to be a ‘smarter’ approach. A written, defined, understood way to what happens to each lead that comes through the funnel. No marketing funnel stops at the top – no matter what, like no sales funnel ends at the bottom.
Sales and marketing must be a collaborative force, which works together, to better achieve not just their own goals – but the purposes of the businesses they represent.