I am passionate about Inbound Marketing and once you see how it works and the results this isn’t difficult to understand. The combination of compelling content, optimised for search so it can be found and amplified across social media is perfect for today's empowered buyer.
This methodology is managed through Marketing Automation (MA) software (our favourite is Hubspot) and there is such support for this process oriented, automated approach that the need for human intervention at critical moments can be overlooked.
This post explores how the human touch at the right time can accelerate your success in converting leads.
Automated Lead Scoring and Nurturing
With Inbound Marketing, once a lead is captured, it is scored and nurtured in a tailored way using the MA software based on two key factors; 1. Who is the person we are talking to and what is their influence (higher influencers get a higher score) and 2. the level of engagement with the content and the buying process. (See woO’s Guide to Lead Scoring and Grading)
This works well in the early stages of lead development when there is plenty of interest and researching solutions to business problems is a pretty broad activity. However as the lead starts to confirm their solution choice and moves into the consideration phase, getting the next critical content engagement can be tricky.
There is nothing as sweet as a friendly human voice
Here is the time to get on the phones and discover some critical information that can help to qualify leads more effectively tha removed content dialogue.
However it is vital to understand that this is NOT a sales call. If you get sales staff to make this call they will probably get it wrong! This is because good sales people cannot resist the desire to sell (rightly so) and this is not a sales call, it’s a marketing qualification call - there is a big difference.
So we have captured a lead with their e-mail address and telephone number. We have scored them automatically to the point where they are clearly honing in on a solution, the consideration phase. So what do we do now?
Well, we call them and we ask high level, open questions about what they are researching e.g. a kick off could be “Hi we noticed you requested our new eBook on lead scoring and grading, did you find it useful?" We are looking to discover an early stage view of a few key categories of qualification information and we can use tried and trusted sales qualification techniques such as BANT. Now I know that a lot of sales people would argue that in Sales BANT has become outdated and I would probably agree (although it’s not my area of expertise) but I have found it perfect in marketing qualification.
So why does BANT work so well in marketing qualification?
From this we can modify our next best action, accelerating those who fulfill all BANT scoring thresholds into decision content engagement and then onto a sale.
However those who don’t meet the threshold BANT scores in one or more areas can have their nurturing, from this point on, tailored to their needs. For example if a lead has a low BANT score on "Need" we can can focus on delivering content that hones their understanding of the business problem that is solved by your product.
In this way we can evaluate the true value and buying stage of our funnel and get really personalised in your response.
I would stress again that on these calls there is often a great temptation to sell e.g. when a Budget BANT score is low, to start meeting the objection of not having the ability to spend on the call. This must be avoided at all cost, even if the buying signals are strong, as it can send leads away quicker than an unsolicited e-mail blast.
To make human touch marketing qualification work you may need to consider re-aligning your marketing and sales resources for optimal performance
So don’t forget the power of human dialogue at the right moment, in support of a content dialogue, and fine tune your nurturing process with your greatest resource - your people.