This is a question you better know the answer to if you ever want to close those leads and convert them into paying customers, clients, or patients. If your leads are alive, dead, or on life support is as critical as it gets when attempting to grow a business.
After all, lead generation is the name of the game, at least the first name. The middle and surnames are once the suspect graduates to prospect, and then turns into a lead. Leads need some level of nurturing, regardless if they express strong interest or just passing casual attention your way.
Your ideal patient, client, or customer narrows the field of available humans, but hardly stringent enough to call them prospects. Until you connect in some way with them, forever they will remain nearly disinterested in you and your products or services.
Leads come in various styles, thus what I am referring to as Alive, Dead, or on Life Support.
Alive and Well
Alive leads are obviously quite way along the buyer’s journey, let’s call it the mid to the bottom of the funnel. They’re almost ready to step forward and decide, but they have yet to pull the trigger and become a paying patient.
Dead on Arrival
These leads stepped up and began some vague relationship with you. They may have downloaded a brochure, case study, checklist, or eBook. Once, maybe twice. However, if you check the data, they haven’t opened an email in months. Id’ call that dead, but again, that’s me. But don’t bury them. They just might not be ready for any further romance with you right now.
The overwhelming amount of “leads” that any one organization has may as well be considered in the emergency, on the operating table, grasping for a way to stay alive. These are the ones that have been in the funnel for quite some time, have a Laissez-faire attitude, and can give up the ghost at a moment’s notice. They are also the leads that are sent to sales far too soon, only to be pounced upon when they simply aren’t ready for moving further down the sales pipeline.
Breath life into them by further lead nurturing. Produce enough content of every variety to reengage them. Until they tell you go stuff it, they should be considered possible sales candidates down the road, to don’t discount them.
Marketing and Sales
Here’s where the challenge to get things right come into being. Marketing’s job and Sales’ job are supposed to be on the same team, but in many organizations, there are silos, protected territory. Marketing’s role traditionally was to produce persuasive, attractive and engaging content for all levels of the marketing funnel. Sales’ role is to work the leads, bringing them into the fold, generating revenues. They should be working together, but most of the time they are at odds.
All Leads Are Not the Same
If the truth is that all leads are not the same, what are they? Good question. In marketing-speak the difference is that some are marketing qualified, and others are sales qualified; MQL and SQL. With leads of all levels of interest, a marketer’s job extends beyond conversion, it’s about nurturing more so than initial attraction. Every level of interest someone has expressed requires a different type of content generated to further educate, inform, build the relationship, to nurture.
Don’t believe me, just take a look at what HubSpot has to say about matters:
Stats to Set the Stage for Lead Nurturing
- 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy. (Source: Gleanster Research)
- Only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales. (Source: Gleanster Research)
- Jeff Ernst of Forrester Research, Inc., estimates that only about 5% of marketers use a full-featured marketing automation solution (Source: Forrester Research)
- Research shows that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. (Source: InsideSales.com)
- 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
- 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
- Just 56% of B2B organizations verify valid business leads before they are passed to Sales. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
- A whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their funnel. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
- 57% of B2B organizations identify 'converting qualified leads into paying customers' as a top funnel priority. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
- 65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
- 79% of B2B marketers have not established lead scoring. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
Item number 5 talks about the overwhelming number of leads that fail to convert. Unless there is sufficient lead nurturing, they never will.
Number 6 absolutely floors me. More than half the audited B2B firms send all leads to sales and look at the poor level of sales-ready. Just imagine what the overall conversion rate must be at that stage.
MQL and SQL – The Difference
Simply put, marketing qualified leads are those that have expressed some level of interest in learning more but are not ready to purchase. They could be at the top of the funnel, or somewhere in the middle of it. They are all at different stages of lead development so to speak.
Sales qualified leads are just that. There are enough signals generated through their activity within the funnel that it might be time to pitch a sale. If they purchase, great. If they decline, they are not lost, but merely not ready to purchase right then. Continued nurturing is required.
Truth and Fiction
I recently spoke to an attorney that complained about the high cost of lead generation. To hear him talk, you would think he’s on the verge of bankruptcy, but his practice is large, generates huge settlements from his cases, wears $1000 suits, and he drives a Maserati. However, the firm spends at least $6000 a month on social media ads, and their leads are nowhere near as high as he expected.
When I asked him what he did with all the unconverted leads, his reply caused my jaw to drop, literally. “They’re dead leads, we don’t do anything with them.” No long-term lead nurturing campaign, just one-and-done with them.
When challenged as to why he is not providing further nurturing, his answer was vague, and his eyes were akin to a deer watching a car coming at her.
“You already paid for these leads; you own them. Why would you just let them die?” There was no reply.
Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make any sense to me, no sense at all.
There’s a litany of marketing information still to share with you about lead nurturing, lead generation, lead scoring, and more to come in future blog articles. Watch for them.
If you happen to be on the sales side of any company, pay heed to this information. It would serve you well to work closer with the guys and gals in the marketing department. After all, their the ones that you need to know how the lead nurturing is moving along.