Effective Marketing Strategies in demand management will increase and expedite the conversion of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) to Qualified Sales Opportunities (QSOs).
An organization that enjoys consistent double-digit growth typically has a healthy and sustained marketing and sales pipeline of qualified sales opportunities. Qualified sales opportunities are those with a high probability of converting to closed won/deals. They are not leads.
Best-in-class organizations separate, but integrate, the process of creating MQLs (demand creation) and the conversion of marketing qualified leads to QSOs (demand management). These functions must not only be aligned and integrated for lead follow-up, but must also be united when building the demand generation plan.
Because sales resources are among the most expensive resources for any organization, it is critical that tasks assigned to salespeople are high value and are directly correlated to advancing and closing opportunities. In general, steps in the sales process that reside at the top of the sales funnel are most often assigned to marketing, as they can be highly segmented and automated. However, these assignments have to be well-defined steps in the sales process and proactively managed by both sales and marketing.
Below is an example of effective marketing strategies which increase the conversion of marketing qualified leads to qualified sales opportunities.
Effective Marketing Strategies Example
Marketing Goal –efficiently and effectively convert leads to qualified sales opportunities for the sales team.
- Leads are brought to closure in a timely manner so “no fruit rots on the vine”
- Only opportunities worthy of a sales person’s time are passed to sales people
- The ROI of marketing campaigns increases as more leads convert to customers
- An outcome-based approach to investing in holistic and integrated marketing campaigns is promoted
- The buying process must be well-understood and documented for sales and marketing processes to be effectively aligned
Effective Marketing Strategies – use automation and formalized marketing processes.
- Develop a qualification matrix of the specific criteria used by the sales team to define a qualified sales opportunity.
- Institute a 10 – 30 touch lead follow-up model which is aligned with the buying process.
- Leverage automation to exhaust each opportunity with meaningful, relevant and timely content.
- Define the actionable metrics and manage the conversion ratios.
Effective Marketing Strategies – The Details
Marketing Goal – efficiently and effectively convert leads to qualified sales opportunities for the sales team to turn into consistent quota attainment.
One of the chief complaints sales teams have with marketing is that the leads are of poor quality. Once this label is placed on marketing it often results in a death spiral. This is because the sales team is less likely to follow-up on leads which in turn results in a lower ROI for marketing investment as well as the inevitable finger pointing between marketing and sales.
The goal is to use a very quantitative measure as QSOs can be backed out of from the number of deals by estimating the close ratio. The lynchpin is the definition of a QSO and then the next step. MQLs should be scored against a set of five to ten criteria with closed end responses. The responses can then be tallied to provide a score that indicates whether it is a QSO, something to be nurtured, starbursted or assigned to the dead category.
Effective Marketing Strategies –use automation and formalized marketing processes to convert marketing qualified leads to qualified sales opportunities in a manner consistent with criteria that sales people expect.
A prerequisite to convert MQLs to QSOs is for sales and marketing to partner and integrate marketing into the sales process. The most effective organizations do this by integrating the demand creation and demand management functions in the sales process (the front-end). The success of this endeavor rests on marketing and sales clearly defining roles and responsibilities, empowering people and holding everyone accountable—and the more automation and self-regulating metrics the better.
The basic premise is to mirror the activity the best rep would pursue at each step and to make it a highly managed and repeatable marketing process. Once the demand creation programs have been executed, the sales development rep (SDR) will play a key role as they are quite often the first human touch with a MQL. The SDR will be able to probe into questions in the Qualification Matrix that have not as yet been asked or answered.
The marketing automation system will play a key role in lead appending, scoring, escalating and nurturing as well as hand-offs to the sales team through the automation system.
- Assess the demand management function
- Standardize the terminology, roles and responsibilities and processes
- Create a Target Account Profile
- Create the qualification model
- Establish a lead scoring model
- Establish a lead routing and escalation process
- Institute a 10-touch lead follow-up model
- Build specific nurture paths
- Conform to a demand management timeline
- Document the SDR prioritization process
- Document meaningful metrics, dashboards and KPIs
What to Look Out For
Most B2B organizations are not able to consistently create an MQL or convert MQLs to QSOs. A best-in-class B2B demand management function requires an integrated plan that harnesses demand creation, demand management, sales, sales operations, marketing operations, product marketing and sales enablement.
Systems, processes, roles, responsibilities and terminology should be jointly developed, mutually agreed upon and religiously instituted, as they become the regulating mechanisms that will determine success or failure. At its core, a best in-class demand management function has to have lead scoring, lead routing, lead nurture, scripts, a clean and continuously updated contact database, account intelligence tools, team training, metrics, dashboards and KPIs. The most effective demand management systems are living things and they require continuous interaction between the demand management function and the sales teams.
Here are some questions to ask:
- Who owns lead management – sales or marketing?
- Have clear goals been set for the lead management function?
- Has an assessment of the lead management function been performed?
- Is lead management tightly integrated with lead generation?
- Are there automated systems in place?
- Are there managed, repeatable processes in place?
- Have roles and responsibilities been clearly communicated?
- Is the data clean?
- Are there a set of metrics, dashboards, reports and KPIs in place that are monitored and actively managed?
- Is feedback incorporated into the process and if so, how?
Effective Marketing Strategies – Closing Thoughts
Generating a lead is step one and depending upon whether this was done in the context of a demand creation and management plan it could be a step forward. But it may instead be a step backwards.
Creating leads and spending money is not the same as an outcome-based marketing approach where the focus is on creating a lead with a high propensity to become a customer. A focused goal and well thought out marketing strategies constitute a best practice to expedite the conversion of marketing-qualified leads to qualified sales opportunities.