Understanding the life cycle of a sales lead | FirstRain

Understanding the life cycle of a sales lead

A big pet peeve of salespeople is that they are given terrible leads by their marketing team. However, it may not be that the leads aren’t great, it may be how the salesperson is choosing to follow up on them. Think of it this way: Leads have a life cycle, like plants do. Just because a lead has peeked its head out of the ground doesn’t mean you can harvest it. Give your leads some TLC to see a maximum return on investment.

The buying cycle is changing
Buyers have already done their research before approaching a business. They could find a company through social media, search engines or other online channels. With the advent of content marketing, potential buyers could learn a lot about your company without ever having talked to you. You no longer need to seek out prospects. They’ll come to you. For this reason, prospective buyers are often at an early stage of the buying process during their first conversation with a sales rep.

A study from Marketing Sherpa Business-To-Business Demand Generation Summit found two different conclusions. Sales people need to:
1. Respond more quickly
2. Be more persistent.

Pounce quickly
Your leads are using the Internet to their advantage, and you should too. If you have data on when they were browsing, use it to make a call. The Marketing Sherpa study demonstrated that effective response times could be far shorter than most sales reps think. The likelihood of reaching a new sales lead drops 10 times if you wait longer than an hour after they first show interest. After an hour, the odds decrease another 6 times.

Be persistent
According to Michael Boyette for Marketo, about 45 percent of B2B leads end up buying. Out of 100 leads handed down by the marketing department, roughly 45 of them will be sales opportunities and about 15 of those will actually close.

The mistake is in thinking that the remaining 30 leads are dead. According to Boyette, they might just not be ripe enough. Depending on where they are in the buying cycle, they might just not be ready to commit. It doesn’t meant you should stop trying. Keep in touch with green leads. If you were gardening, you wouldn’t water plants once and then stop. If the apples were too green when you went out to pick them, it doesn’t mean they’re worthless – they just need some more time.

Nurture your leads
If potential customers aren’t quite ready to buy, they may not be ready to talk to a sales rep just yet. Keep building brand awareness for your products by sending them messages and content. Doing this can actually speed up the buyer’s timeline, making them likely to purchase more quickly. According to MarketingSherpa data cited by Marketo, lead nurturing can lead to a 45 percent increase in return on investment. Knowing your customers can help you determine when and how to approach leads when they are reaching fruition. Use customer research to determine what their buying cycle might look like before trying to close the deal.