Live From Optimization Summit 2012: Optimizing the Lead: A Data-Driven Optimization Process that Goes Beyond Lead Capture

By Jenny DeGraff | Jun 13, 2012
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Optimization Summit 2012During my next session, it became very clear to me that the folks at MECLABS don’t mess around with efficiency, they literally optimize EVERYTHING. The session, Optimizing the Lead: A Data-Driven Optimization Process that Goes Beyond Lead Capture, MECLABS’ Executive Director of Revenue Optimization, Brian Carroll and Director of Marketing & Brand Strategy, Pamela Markey dove into strategies and tips for lead handling.

Brian and Pamela started the session with an overview of the 4 steps to optimizing the lead:

  1. Identify the right companies and people
  2. Segment, score and prioritize
  3. Initiate a memorable conversation
  4. Nurture regardless of time to buy

Then they dove deeper into each step:

1. Identify the right companies and people

Of the leads generated from websites, only 5-10% are actually sales-ready. So Sales doesn’t/shouldn’t need to accept the other 90-95%. But what to do with these leads? Carroll and Markey suggest that Sales and Marketing need to work together to create a Universal Lead Definition or ULD. They can then use the ULD to assess every lead to help close the loop.

So how does Marketing and Sales create this ULD? They answer the following questions:

What makes a good sales lead?

  • How can we raise the bar and give your better more actionable leads?
  • What initiative or need makes this a good fit?
  • What info is necessary to determine if a lead is worth the follow-up?
  • What are the titles/job functions of economic buyers and influencers?
  • What does this company values? What is its culture like?
  • What are the common business issues?

What information is required to qualify leads as being sales ready?

  • What are the characteristics of the ideal sales opportunity?
  • What are the questions sales want answered before getting a lead?
  • What info is must-have vs. nice-to-have?
  • Which questions tend to gather the most-needed information?
  • What should we start doing to make leads more actionable?
  • What things should we stop doing with leads that don’t value?

Use the ULD to delineate “sales-ready” vs. “nurture” lead statuses

  • Will there be a time frame to evaluate and implement a solution?
  • Will there be a formal or informal budget in place?
  • Are there specific behaviors or traits you are looking for?

2. Segment, score and prioritize

Next step involves Marketing and Sales working together to determine what the process should be to drive leads to sales.

The pathway should follow this general map:
Capture Lead -> Segment and Score Lead -> Qualify and Nuture -> Sales Engagement -> Analyze Results

The details of the process are up to your team.

3. Initiate a memorable conversation

The key to a memorable conversation is a simple formula:
Relevance + Timing = Memorable

82% of people are willing to receive a phone call as long as it is relevant. This was a very surprising statistic for most of the audience who were guessing >20%. So the key would be to create a lead generation model that, at every touch-point is relevant to your future customer. You should plot out each touch you need to make to move the lead to the next stage:

Lead Generation Model
Inquiry -> Lead -> Sales-Ready Lead -> Qualified Prospect -> Customer

At each stage, there should be a level of nurturing with different asset offerings, our conversations. As the lead progresses the time investment of each offering will increase, so you aren’t asking too much of the lead too soon. This segues into the final step.

4. Nurture regardless of time to buy

Nurturing is the key to it all! Keep the lead engaged, interested, and reminded of your brand. Keep giving them small commitments, until they are ready to make the big one. You can do this easily by repurposing content. For example, if you have a great research chart, turn it into a webinar, then a video clip, then a blog post, then a tactical tool download, and an email. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel for each touch.

To make it easy on yourself, a CRM or marketing automation software can be a life saver and keep track of your leads and touches. Don’t underestimate the value of a well constructed nurturing plan. Get started by creating 3 personas, segment your database by these personas and market to each of these differently. Then set set a 3 month plan of touches for each persona. This should get the lead optimization plan rolling.

Just remember, start with defining what a lead actually is, this will save the Sales-Marketing relationship and build a well constructed plan from there.

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