According to the findings of our Frost & Sullivan Executive Marketing Benchmark Study, nearly 70% of BtoB marketers report that the average amount of time for a qualified marketing lead to close is upwards of three to six months – up to a year. Some companies do, however, manage to convert leads within three months.
If you are looking at your company’s close rates, you may be wondering where you can focus next to improve that very important conversion from Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) to Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), ultimately impacting higher close rates.
The solution is to take the approach of the “incremental improvement” across a targeted group of prospect touchpoints to dial in engagement once they are qualified as a marketing lead. The effect of making small but important shifts at every step of the prospect’s journey will increase the relevance and engagement of each contact or interaction, and you can begin seeing improvements in your time-to-close metric.
Here are 5 ways to supercharge your MQL to SQL (to close) conversion rate in BtoB marketing.
(1) Ensure your marketing and sales messaging are aligned. Certainly, your marketing messaging focuses on a core value proposition, validated key benefits, and proven outcomes companies can achieve when working with you. So, as your qualified leads start interacting with your sales representatives, it’s important to ensure that the core values and key messages they are sharing remain consistent all the way through the sales process. If the sales team shares inconsistent messaging or too much information, it can create confusion, reduce credibility or trust, and slow down the sales process.
(2) Personalize your follow-up communications. When a prospect has qualified as a marketing lead, they are in a prime state of wanting to hear from you. In fact, they may have some immediate questions they’d ask if you make it easy to connect and it feels personal. If you have an internal process of assigning sales qualified leads to sales representatives, why not tailor the communication right away and automate a personalized introduction to their (eventual) salesperson. Maximize the opportunity to create a meaningful connection and leverage the power of email automation and personalization. You have the ability to move a prospect along very fast if you find the right cadence and tone for your communication. Most important of all, giving your prospect early access to their sales representative allows them to get any immediate questions answered so they can move along the sales process at a rate that matches their readiness to buy.
(3) Analyze and evaluate your offerings and messaging annually. Analyzing win/loss reports, your team’s sales pipeline, and any anecdotal feedback you can gather to identify common objections or barriers prospects have to getting started. Then, see if the market is indicating the need for an offering that solves those objections or removes those barriers. Or maybe your messaging needs to evolve to care for the changing needs of your qualified leads in order to convert them to customers.
(4) Equip your sales team with success stories. When your prospects narrow down their options and you are in the running, ensuring that they see market validation in the form of case studies, success stories, results gained by working with you will work in your favor. While you may already be touting these success stories in your marketing programs, be sure your sales team has sharable access to the full library of success stories. Prospects will feel reassured by others’ success and have an easier time signing on the dotted line.
(5) Refine your lead scoring metrics. It’s important to evaluate your lead scoring metrics regularly to make sure they are the right metrics. What really constitutes a sale where the prospect has budget, authority, need and timing (the traditional BANT method)? What other factors are playing a part or leading to a higher quality sale? Think about metrics or data points such as buyer’s position in the company, your company’s relationship with the prospective company, your company’s ability to influence the decision criteria, the strategic value of your solution to their company, industry or competitive variables that make your prospect more likely to value your solution. It’s likely that refining your lead scoring metrics will require working closely with your sales team, but at the end of the day any time marketing and sales work together, both teams benefit.
When you take time to reflect on and refine multiple touchpoints in the pre-sales process using the incremental improvement approach you will start to gain traction at every step of your prospect’s experience. Within a few months’ time of implementing these changes, you can start to see improvements in your lead conversion rates. If you need help with accelerating your sales cycle, reach out to us for a free strategy consultation with a member of the Brand and Demand Solutions team.
In the meantime, let us know in the comments below any tactics you’ve used that have worked well to increase your MQL to SQL conversion rate!