A majority of organizations claim lead conversion is a priority, but their actions say otherwise
A majority of organizations in the business-to-business (B2B) space say that “converting qualified leads into paying customers” is a top sales funnel priority. So says MarketingSherpa, a company that publishes news, case studies, and best practice data about marketing practices. They peg the number at 57 percent, slightly more than five out of every nine companies.
“I’m greatly encouraged by this,” says Adam Berkson, president of LiveVoice, a boutique phone support service that specializes in lead response services. “The number one goal of any organization should be increased sales, and employing a sales funnel is a great tool to accomplish this. It is a wise, proven approach.”
Indeed the sales funnel is a classic sales tool. It looks at the path salespeople use to guide prospects through a process to move them toward a closed sale. Along the way some leads fall off, which means it’s critical to know how many leads must enter the top of the funnel to produce the desired number of sales from the bottom.
Unfortunately, other eye-opening findings from MarketingSherpa, suggest a failure at implementing this professed goal of converting sales funnel leads.
While a majority of B2B marketers claim their top sales funnel goal is converting qualified leads into paying customers, an even greater majority, at almost two-thirds (65 percent), have not established lead nurturing. “Lead nurturing focuses on listening to prospects and providing the information they need, when they need it,” adds Berkson. “There’s no way a company can legitimately say sales conversion is a priority and not take active steps to nurture the leads in their sales funnel.”
“I see lead nurturing as the essential process of what managing a sales funnel is all about,” says Steve Knight, senior VP of client services at TeleServices Direct, a worldwide provider of outsource call center services. “In practical implementation it’s hard to have one without the other.”
Adding even further data to this disconnect from sales funnel ideals to actual practices is the reality that over three-fourths of B2B marketers (79 percent) have not established lead scoring. “Lead scoring,” explains Berkson, “is a methodical process to rank prospects according to the perceived value – that is, the overall potential – each lead represents to the organization.”
The results of lead scoring can determine which leads receive a particular response, as determined by a cost-benefit analysis. “Just as you don’t want to put a person on an airplane to meet with a borderline prospect for a $25 sale, you also don’t want a seven-figure deal from a repeat customer going to an entry-level telemarketer.” Berkson concludes with the admonition to “maximize the effectiveness of your sales funnel by applying the proven tools of lead nurturing and lead scoring.
“It’s common sense, but apparently not everyone gets it.”
Peter DeHaan, PhD, is a freelance writer, call center authority, and publisher of Connections Magazine, which covers the call center industry.