Tips are abundant regarding how to pull in more top-of-funnel leads. However, what about the leads already in the sales cycle, those SQLs you spent time, money, and energy on getting in the first place?
Marketing's value within the buyer's journey doesn't end with MQL-to-SQL hand-off to Sales. Marketing should stay close to where those leads are in the sales cycle and at what stage. Have they moved on to the proposal? Have they gone "dark"? Have they sat in the same stage for too long (aging inventory)? Did some of those scored MQLs you gave to Sales fall into the "never to be reached out to again" abyss?
So, how can Marketing and Sales work together to get a lead to a closed win/lost status – because isn't revenue generation a team effort?
Here are six tips:
Note: depending on what's happening in the Sales cycle will determine what actions you take.
Get an executive involved. Executives outside of the function of Sales can help get a lead unstuck or moving along faster. For example, a CEO can "check-in" to the prospect with an email or phone message such as, "I've been reviewing opportunities in our pipeline and saw your information. I'm sure <Rep> is helping you make the best decision for your organization with <XYZ>. However, I'm also interested in extending any support you need to make that decision. Is there anything more that we can do to address any needs or questions you may have?", or something along those lines. Just ensure it's human, not a marketing or sales message. If your executive is using email to reach out, make sure it's sent directly from the executive and not your marketing automation system.
Send a highly personalized, <15-second video email. All too often, we send text-based emails. Think about how many emails you get in a day. Now, consider how many a C-level executive or upper management individual gets. In my past life, I worked with a multibillion-dollar healthcare organization's CIO to build an internal communication plan to consistently inform the board and other executives of IT's strategy, progress, and outcomes. One day, I asked him how many solicitation emails he gets daily. He said around 100, and most of them were plain text emails. Imagine you're one of those emails. How are you going to get noticed in all that unwanted chaos? Try a video email – make it highly personalized based on what you know about the person, not just their company. Be authentic. Keep it to 15 seconds, max 30.
Mail them something. Yes, I said mail. If your leads are in the office now (many have gone back, especially those holding leadership positions), send them something that makes them think about your interactions with them thus far. Theme it. Something simple and memorable could get them to reach out again. Pre-pandemic, I sent physical packages at the start of my Account-based Marketing programs. They were highly successful in getting responses. Some people even reached out to say it was very creative and unique. However, post-pandemic, that tactic has fallen to the wayside. Now, a couple of years after, it's coming back. If you have a short list of contacts that you know are in the office (call the company or gatekeeper to find out), try a physical mailer to get your name in front of them again. (Side tip: If you know they are going on vacation, for example, per a discussion you had with them, send them something related - ex: a mini travel kit of essentials, a book on the location they are visiting, etc.)
Create a "give back" process in your Marketing/CRM automation system. If the Rep does X number of attempts with no luck, they should give it back. In your CRM, add a check box for "give back" so, via workflow automation, the lead goes back to Marketing and gets added to a nurture track. That nurture track helps Sales to keep in touch with that lead without having to do it themselves. Emails from that nurture track have the assigned Rep's name on it. Then, at different points of that track, have the SDR/BDR reach out to the contact to "check in" on behalf of the Rep.
Include Marketing in your Sales pipeline discussions. By having someone from Marketing in attendance to listen in, they will clearly understand why an opportunity is struggling to get through the sales cycle. The more Marketing understands the better they can help. In partnership with Sales, they can help to craft a strategy to move forward.
Have a customer tell their story. This one is out of the box. I've used it a handful of times with great success. This tactic all depends on what sort of customers you have. Look for a raving fan customer and ensure the customer is not a competitor to your prospect. The customer could email a message such as: "< Rep> reached out to me asking if I could share my experience with < your company> with you. I normally don't do things like this; however, I agreed due to my relationship with <your company>. I've been in your shoes before, considering working with a new vendor. It's a risk both to my company and my reputation. Hiring <your company> was one of my best decisions. They are an asset to me and my organization and have helped us achieve our goals more easily, faster, and confidently. If you want to connect to discuss my experience with <your company> further, I'd be happy to…" This tactic is no different than a customer being a reference. The only difference is that you put this tactic earlier in the sales cycle.
I would have added to the list the "is it over email"; however, that's a given. Those still work and come in handy. You could start there, and if you still are waiting for a response, try one (or several) of the tips shared in this article. In addition, Marketing should stay in front of leads using common tactics like re-targeting ads, social media, other paid ad avenues, nurture tracks, etc.
Finally, the message you use to stay connected to prospects stuck or crawling at a turtle's pace in the sales cycle is essential. Your contact has a day job that has different priorities than you. Be aware of that and walk in their shoes. Be there to help them remove roadblocks that prevent them from moving to a closed won/lost status in your CRM. Don’t push. Be understanding and genuinely interested in helping them remove any obstacles that stand in their way of making a decision.
Creativity is vital to helping leads move through the Sales cycle, especially if they are slow to move or have gone dark. You need to get noticed, again. Don't think through the "how" in a vacuum. Engage with your Marketing team for input – because you’re all in it together when it comes to closing business.
Always remember, there is no silver bullet. Connecting with a prospect and proving to them early on that you value them as more than just a sales transaction takes a village, an array of interlocking tactics, and a sincere and authentic approach.
Contact me if you'd like to connect to discuss this topic further. I have other ideas to share that I've used, as well as other fellow marketers and Sales pros, with great success.
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