Make your B2B Leads More Qualified by Aligning Marketing and Sales
B2B lead generation goes non-stop. To have many sales and steady revenue, a business should have a steady flow of leads and opportunities to qualify and nurture the prospects into loyal clients. What is a common situation, though? The marketing department actively engages into lead generation activities and generates marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) for the sales team to take over and mature the MQLs into sales deals. However, sales reps are often dissatisfied with the quality of the leads and do their own B2B lead generation and generate sales-qualified leads (SQLs). This is an example of miscommunication and misuse of budgets. Given that B2B lead generation is essential for business-to-business commerce, let’s think about how marketing and sales can generate and nurture warm and qualified B2B leads in cooperation?
B2B Lead Generation in Cooperation
If we look at the sales funnel, the formal logic prompts us to think that marketing and sales can do their shares of work without overlapping. At the top of the sales funnel, marketing generates unqualified leads through
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Growth hacking
- Account-based marketing
And then sales reps take over and nurture the leads they get from marketing through
- Cold calling
- Outbound email
- B2B prospecting
- B2B sales lead lists
These lists of lead generation options are not exhaustive and can be supplemented with other activities depending on what niche a business takes. But the main question we need to ask ourselves is “How can we align marketing and sales and get them to work in cooperation?”
Effective communication is the key to many things, including effective B2B sales lead generation. If your marketing and sales teams improve communication, they will share a better understanding of business processes and their own roles in it. Shared understanding will help both sides come up with useful ideas and further improve communication. Now it is not a vicious circle anymore. It is a self-generating virtuous cycle of effectiveness and performance. The first step is to get marketing and sales teams talking to each other. Once the marketing team shares info on what campaigns they create and what content assets they achieve, sales reps provide feedback on their communication experience with leads and deals. Next, the teams should meet frequently and keep getting familiar with each other’s results, work strategies, improved processes, and ideas about future actions.
It is common for marketing and sales to have different metrics and definitions when working basically with the same phenomena. So when you initiate improved communication, work on clarifying the definitions the both teams use. Marketing and sales may have different ideas about such basic terms as ‘leads’ and ‘prospects,’ not to mention ‘marketing-qualified leads’ and ‘sales-qualified leads.’ Creating a unified set of definitions will reduce confusion and improve communication. Also, make sure marketing and sales teams share an understanding of business processes. For example, when a lead is turned into a customer, agree on who handles their accounts and whether they remain in the sales funnel lifecycle.
Ideal Customer Profile
Any attempt at lead generation should start with working out your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). In B2C commerce, figuring out the details of marketing personas or buyer personas help a business tailor the product specifically to solve the customers’ pain points and problems. Similarly in B2B, create a generalized description of a business or organization that is the best fit to use the product. Creating an ICP is a task that marketing and sales teams can collaborate on deepening the shared understanding they have now.
Start with broad brushstrokes: the industry your ICP is in, geolocation, size of the company, and scale of customer base. Then add more specific details, such as relevant pain points your product/service can solve, current goals and motivations, and current solutions they use. Also, think about what value they bring you and what they can get from you. Now, when you have the general outline of your ICL, tailor all your lead generation efforts accordingly. Create more relevant content and choose a social media platform keeping in mind your ICP. Develop the product and do the follow-up in sales using the insights from your target audience.
Technology for B2B Sales Lead Generation
Situations where better technology can improve lead generation both for marketing and sales teams are numerous. For example, sales reps repeatedly find their follow-up emails returned and learn that the customer blacklisted their company after being fed up with too many uncustomized marketing emails. On the one hand, an efficient email spam checker definitely improves email deliverability. On the other hand, marketing and sales teams will get rid of such issues and really improve alignment and communication between them if they use integrated Marketing Automation or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. Once the teams can have a shared view of the marketing and sales efforts, data quality gets better and sales rates get higher.
B2B Appointment Setting
In case, communication between marketing and sales teams fails to improve, or a company simply decides to invest their time and money not into communication but elsewhere. A way out is to outsource some stages of lead generation. Consider having an appointment setting as a separate stage between marketing and sales. If you find out that your marketing people are good at generating B2B leads while your sales reps complain at spending too much of their precious time nurturing cold leads, hiring appointment setters is a way out. The thing is that many sales companies waste a lot of money by letting go of more reluctant leads sales that the reps are not that keen on nurturing. The B2B sale lead flow has a wide range of leads. Whereas sales reps pick the easiest targets and marketers are back to their lead generation activities, outsourced appointment setters can pick up the slack and invest a bit more time and money into converting cold and reluctant leads.
Want More Leads? Align Your Marketing and Sales
Avoid the pitfall of miscommunication between your marketing and sales teams. Do it by getting the teams to talk with each other and sharing their vision and lifehacks. Or hire a third-party team that is able to fill in the gaps in your business’s lead generation process. Remember not to dump those cold business sales leads and convert every lead your teams lay their hands on. If you are looking to improve your lead generation or appointment setting, contact us and we will see how Belkins can be helpful to your business.