I’m often asked how to convert marketing leads into sales which has spurred my inspiration to write this blog.
Establishing marketing ROI can feel a bit like theoretical physics. Without hard facts, how can a business owner truly say that their marketing spend resulted in clients? There are so many options available, and it can be increasingly difficult to link your marketing spend to sales. As a business coach and sales consultant, I know many small businesses deprioritise marketing activity in favour of sales investment, simply because it’s easier to quantify. Yet for the longer-term success of your business, a well-executed marketing strategy is essential. The key is establishing how to turn your marketing leads into clients.
What is the difference between sales and marketing?
With these two definitions in place, it’s already easier to see how they work together. Marketing entices your prospect, the sales function converts them into a client.
And here’s the crucial detail, your marketing must be integrated with your sales strategy for it to be successful. Marketing gently warms up your prospects from cold and will generally drive them to a click, like, comment or other expression of interest.
Sales is the second part of story – it’s the act of progressing these prospects. This includes nurturing them and ascertaining what they need. You can then see if there is a match for the products or services that you offer.
Before you do anything – be realistic. What can marketing actually do for you?
You want more sales, so you put all your energy into marketing. But what do you then do to convert that marketing into sales?
They used to say it took seven touches of marketing to create a sale. But realistically, it can be anything upwards of this number. If you’re using telemarketing or social media, you should allow for seven touches at the bare minimum.
Marketing should feature in your strategy, but you can’t rely on it as a single source of new clients.
From my experience, marketing falls into four broad categories:
- Awareness driving – this includes activities such as PR, social media and advertising. These methods are notoriously difficult to evaluate with a direct ROI.
- Engagement – this can relate to employees, clients or suppliers. Ultimately, the closer you are to your target recipient then the better and longer lasting that relationship will be.
- Channel marketing – this is model primarily used for industries who sell through the channel via partners such as IT and manufacturing. Other examples include network marketing.
- Lead Generation – here, you perform an activity purely to generate leads. The best way to do this is to integrate your offline and online efforts so everything leads to a direct touch point. This is a common approach in corporate marketing. The majority of my Corporate roles came with a sales pipeline and converted revenue target – yes even from marketing spend!
But, I hear you ask – how do I turn my marketing investment into sales? My answer as a business development coach is almost predictable – by taking a disciplined and structured approach of course!
Five ways to turn your marketing leads into sales
- Identify your most profitable clients
If you’ve run your business for a while you will have a bank of clients you’ve worked with. This will be the case whether you are a solo business owner or run an SME.
Spend some time analysing them and you’ll be able to establish the trends to identify your ideal and most profitable clients. You will also be able to identify those who are not ideal clients. Criteria might include their industry, the work you do for them, their company size and even the age of your primary contact.
With this work in mind, you will be able to be able to find ways to replicate these ideal client types and focus your marketing activities towards them.
- Use sales best practice for fastest growth
Often people come to me because they want to increase their revenues and the first thing they think of is sourcing new clients. However, the best way to benefit from shorter sales cycles with the highest chance of converting sales is to approach to people who already know like and trust you. That means focusing on your existing clients with your existing products.
The longest sales cycles with the highest risk on winning clients (or to look at it another way, the hardest approach) is to try to sell your services to people that have never heard of your company.
This is not to say you shouldn’t do any marketing to attract new clients but instead ensure you are aware of this model, so you can maximise it within your business. This brings me nicely onto point 3.
- Do your clients know everything you do?
Do they really, really know? Or do you just think they know?
Do you really know what your clients buy from you? More importantly how do they know what all your services are? We assume our clients know everything we sell but I can assure you that the more you offer, the higher the chance that your clients don’t know your full offering.
Have a think – how could you contact your clients to see what they think you offer?
A little reminder! Although it might be easier for you to email your clients, this is rarely the best approach in this instance. Spam filters may block your email, busy inboxes mean your email may just gets lost and your client might not be an “email person”. Just because email is your preferred method, the chances are it may not be theirs.
- Be strategic however small your business is
What do you want to achieve from your marketing activity?
Many people feel pressure to be doing marketing, specifically social media, without thinking about the bigger picture.
Planning your marketing is really no different from a business plan; as Simon Sinek would say, start with the end in mind. Then you can work out what you want to achieve, define realistic measurements and then decide what activities would be best suited.
Set goals and then plan your sales and marketing activity to deliver these goals.
- Ensure you set up qualification measures
Whether you are following up a website enquiry from people that entered their details on your website or from people who visited your stand at an exhibition, qualification is key.
A marketing lead, otherwise known as an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead), is generally an open expression of interest. In comparison, an SQL (Sales Qualified lead) is defined at the stage of qualification.
I believe people struggle to convert their marketing into sales because they don’t set up qualification measures. Without qualification measures, you or your sales team could be wasting time following up with people who are not real prospects.
To turn your marketing leads into sales leads, you need to establish some basic facts – by using qualification measures.
- Defining their budget – can they afford your goods or services?
- That you are speaking to the decision maker – are they authorised to purchase or sign off a purchase or do they have influence in the process?
- Understanding their requirements – then you can ascertain if they are a good match for what you offer
- Understanding when they are likely to purchase – can you serve them on a mutually agreeable timeframe?
With this detail in place, you will now know whether your lead has moved to a genuine potential client. Without this information, creating a proposal will be a waste of your or your team’s time.
Qualify your marketing leads before investing time in selling to them.
Sales and marketing must work together
Sales and marketing will work their hardest for your business when they are aligned and there are clear expectations of what each must deliver. It’s not an easy balancing act and there’s no silver bullet for driving exponential growth.
Do you need some help aligning your sales and marketing or establishing qualification measures? After all, you probably didn’t start your company to be a sales or marketing person. Book in a free discovery call to see how I can help you grow your business.