I was recently meeting with one of our clients to dig deeper into the findings of its first Inbound Marketing ROI report when we realized that the inside sales reps weren't converting a lot of the leads we were generating into sales. In fact, many of the leads were languishing (that is, not being followed-up aggresively or at all).
This company's sales reps are like those at a lot of B2B technology and services companies; they self-generate the majority of their leads. They cold call. When we implemented Inbound Marketing for them, we created a lot of leads, more than 1,000 during the first 5 months. But there wasn't a lot to show for the effort. As it turned out, there was a reason: The reps treated warm leads no differently from cold leads. They didn't realize that these people had expressed interest and were therefore very different from the hundreds of contacts they make each week where the target has no interest and routinely deflects outreach from most sales reps.
Research from a number of industry leaders, including InsideSales.com, Marketo, HubSpot and Sirius Decisions point to an undeniable truth. Inbound Marketing leads need to be followed-up rapidly and repeatedly in order to extract the most value from the effort.
We wrote a lead handling playbook for our client's sales reps and soon afterward realized that it would benefit all our clients and the Inbound Marketing community if we shared the playbook and our recommendations:
- Before you deliver Inbound Marketing leads to a salesforce, coach them on the difference between Inbound Marketing leads and any other lead source they've previously worked with
- Coach the salesforce on best practices for responding to Inbound Marketing leads: rapid and persisitent (yet contextually relevant and nuanced) response is necessary
- Build scripts and supportive written content the salespeople will need to respond to leads at each stage of the buying journey (ToFu, MoFu and BoFu)
- Ensure that a closed-loop reporting mechanism is in place so you can reinforce the value of Inbound leads to the sales team, sales management and the CEO/CMO
You can download a copy of our playbook for sales managers, "Handling Inbound Leads," by clicking the button below. The playbook is easily customized to your specific situatiuon (it's provided as a Microsoft Word file). We'd love to hear your feedback, either in the comments to this post or directly.