Most inbound marketers think the hardest part about their lead generation plan is actually getting the leads to come in, and while this is no easy task, it’s equally important to strategize and prepare for the process of following up with your inbound leads. With these five steps you’ll be able to more effectively determine whether leads are worthy of sending to sales and ultimately increase your likelihood of converting leads into new customers.
Five Steps to Convert Your Inbound Marketing Leads into Customers:
1. Communication Between Marketing and Sales
HubSpot coined the term “SMarketing” which is defined as the alignment and connection between sales and marketing. This should be part of your inbound marketing strategy from the very beginning—ensuring that your sales and marketing team are on the same page and equally invested in your inbound marketing program.In this step you’ll want to have a thorough discussion with all your key players and cover questions including:
- Who will actually qualify and research the leads coming in?
- Who is involved in lead scoring and lead intelligence conversations (from both sides)?
- How will leads be handed off from marketing to sales?
- Who will be the first point of contact?
- How will you categorize your leads (marketing qualified vs. sales qualified)?
- Are all points of contact very familiar with the blog and the content that is generating these leads?
There are likely more questions that will come up during this meeting, but these are some that you should definitely discuss and then be able to put a solid lead follow-up plan in place. And most importantly… stick to it!
2. Qualify and Research Your Leads
As leads start coming in, they should be immediately evaluated in order to determine if they match your target persona. If you recall, your target persona should define who your ideal prospect is so comparing leads to this description will help you identify whether a lead is qualified or not.
Starting out, it will be easy to look at every single lead coming in—and you should—but as your blog grows you’ll want to think about setting up some automated lead scoring. Lead scoring allows you to select criteria that matter to your business, and automatically score leads based on the information you gather from forms, as well as the actions taken on your site. You’ll score everything from job title (are they a decision maker?) to the types of content they’ve downloaded (is it top of the funnel or bottom of the funnel?). Lead scoring will help you filter out unqualified leads and alert you of hot leads that score highly.
Once leads are determined to have potential, whether through manual research or lead scoring, the final step before ever making contact is going to include some thorough research on the actual company and contact person. Just like any good salesperson would do with traditional leads, you’ll want to learn as much as you can before starting a conversation with any lead.
3. Use the Consultative Approach to Make Contact
One of the tricks to understanding how to follow up with your inbound marketing leads is to remember… these are not cold calls. These are warm leads that have shown interest in learning more about how you can help them. They’ve been to your website, they’ve downloaded free resources, they’ve read your blog, and maybe even read up on who you are and what you do.
Therefore, whoever is following up with leads needs to continue this consultative approach when reaching out. It shouldn’t be about setting an appointment or making a sale right away… it should be about asking questions and proving that you’re a credible, valuable resource. That initial contact should include asking open-ended questions about the topics they’ve been researching, working to uncover their needs and challenges, and continuing to educate and teach them. This can all be done in a phone call and/or email—and it doesn’t need to delay the sales process. It is meant to make your follow up more effective and not scare away inbound leads that you’ve worked hard to get.
4. Continue to Follow Up
Here at The Center for Sales Strategy we teach and practice the Don’t Give Up approach, which reminds sellers that it usually takes multiple points of contact before a prospect responds.
This might mean 5 or 6 different attempts via phone, email, social media, etc. and with inbound marketing leads it’s no different. People are busy, emails get buried, and voicemails get deleted. So, do yourself a favor and use all that great research you’ve done on your lead and prepare unique, yet persistent, attempts to start a conversation.
5. Track and Optimize Your Efforts
Finally, it is absolutely essential to your inbound marketing efforts to track your lead follow up. Many leads might need to be revisited in a few weeks and by tracking your efforts you can utilize your website analytics to learn more important information about them before reaching out again. Plus, if there are multiple people following up leads, it’s easy to lose track and let some fall through the cracks. Be sure a tracking system is in place and that everyone adheres to it consistently.
Then take this information and use it to better optimize your follow up efforts. How can you update your lead scoring to better reflect what you’ve learned? Which types of leads aren’t as qualified as you thought and why?
Follow these 5 steps and you’ll be well on your way to converting inbound marketing leads into new customers.