Lead-to-opportunity: the ruthless imperatives of gently caring
Sales are necessary for businesses to thrive, either as an output of building great products or as an input to larger missions like creating shareholder value, improving lives, or changing environments. And so, it’s paramount to have a very structured process that enhances the odds of generating those sales.
While conversion happens when a customer clicks ‘buy’ or signs a contract, the sales funnel starts way upstream where marketing departments generate leads, those qualified prospects that begin to exhibit buying propensity. From that point, a structured lead-to-opportunity process is critical to converting initial interests into hard sales. Companies must apply the softness of nurturing prospective clients with the cold measures required to measure, segment, score and manage an overall structured process. At TechTorch, we have defined a set of imperatives for this combination to drive successful outcomes.
Generate individual leads
Long gone is the time when marketing was about generating mass attention by blasting offers information via traditional media. The equation has shifted. Potential buyers are overwhelmed with information; modern marketing requires helping customers self-discover and select their preferences in a world of information abundance. You don’t find customers, they find you. Once they do, you must have a customized message that targets the individual (not the mass). That forces businesses to employ lead generation techniques allowing them to target individuals’ behaviors and needs. Online search, social media, email marketing, trials and demos, and other ways of attracting the individual’s interest are required to generate qualified leads.
Segment, score and prioritize
Once leads are generated, businesses must enrich them with relevant demographic, firmographic, and behavioral data. This can be an arduous process if done manually. Best companies automate the process and build engines that associate relevant attributes, provide an aggregate scoring for each lead, and therefore can prioritize which of the leads need to be addressed first and with which mechanisms. Some of the leads require immediate attention and should be prioritized in an ‘act now’ bucket so the timing and momentum are not lost. Those ‘act now’ leads include those using trials, asking to be contacted, actively downloading content from your web, or are repeat attendees from your live demos.
Nurture with care
If segmenting and prioritizing is a data game, nurturing leads involves a soft touch to ensure that customers don’t opt-out from your funnel. Nurturing converts leads to real opportunities. It’s critical to apply the right psychology to hold the hands of your leads and walk them through the advantages of your offerings. Ensure relevance of your messages; generic and/or promotional messaging will just drive leads away. You do not want to surprise leads with unwanted actions; it’s important to generate the right expectations up-front of what you’ll be offering during the nurturing phase. Be ‘omnichannel.’ Make sure you are relevant in whatever element leads prefer to receive and process information. Also, be very sure that the nurturing process is not cold and data-driven. This is the time to focus on your customer needs, not your conversion goal or metrics.
At the bottom of the funnel, we find a great opportunity. The best opportunities have the correct information and are routed to the best salesperson with the highest probability of converting into sales. Here, data and automation are again paramount. Great companies automatically route opportunities to the appropriate sales representatives. They use product interest information, demographic, geographic, and firmographic data (e.g., vertical) to find the right person or team. Automatic routing ensures opportunities move rapidly through the pipeline matching the customers’ needs and generating a much better experience.
Lead to opportunity is, therefore, a magic combination of generating empathy and emotional connection with potential customers while ruthlessly applying cold data to measure, prioritize and automate the overall pipeline management. Fortunately for all, the capabilities required to achieve this tricky balance are well documented. They can be quickly configured, tested, and deployed in your organization via TechTorch’s lead-to-opportunity use case.
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