Having a deep understanding of your sales and marketing funnel is going to help you build the foundation of your marketing plan.
Since your outbound lead generation team is focused on targeting the potential customers you’ve already identified, these brands should enter the funnel at the same stage each time.
This is different from brands who don’t have B2B lead management process or teams, and might find prospective customers entering the sales and marketing funnel at various points during the process.
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In an ideal world, your band should have the sales and marketing funnel defined at each stage. This means understanding what each stage is, as well as the definitions of each stage.
Here’s a quick and easy example of a simple sales and marketing funnel:
Inquiry > Validated Lead > Qualified Lead > Sales Opportunity > Sales Outcome
So what’s the real key to success here?
Having guidelines, processes, and workflows set by your team from the start. Yes, it’s more work upfront, but not only will it help your current team, but it is going to allow for any new team members to have an easier transition.
Here are some things you want to include in these guidelines, processes, and workflows:
- Outreach guidelines
- The status and definition of any leads, including any important conversion points that need to be involved in the process
- The process that involves how a lead gets handed off to the sales team
Now, let’s take a look at each of these individually so you can dig a little bit more in depth.
Outreach is one of the most important tasks your lead generation team is going to perform on a daily basis. So, it goes without saying, you want to have some guidelines set in place.
(This will help with tracking and analytics, too.)
This helps to keep your follow through process not only set in place for your team, but it also showcases a consistent strategy to your potential customers as well.
One of the first guidelines you want to set up when it comes to outreach is the number of touches. Now, of course, your mileage will vary based on a lot of factors like the size of your team, the number of targets you have, and the length of your sales cycle, just to name a few.
Here’s a quick example of a six touch outreach process could look like:
- Business day 0: 1st email
- Business day 3: 1st call
- Business day 8: 2nd call
- Business day 12: 2nd email
- Business day 16: 3rd call
- Business day 20: 4th call
Remember, none of these processes need to or should be set in stone. Yes, it’s always important to have guidelines, but remember, your sales and marketing funnel is a living and breathing thing, so don’t be afraid to tweak and test to see what combination of touches, methods, and days get you the best outcome.
This is a place where you can help empower your outreach team to contribute, float ideas, and take an active role in improving the process for better results.
Once you have a process in place, keep a steady stream of documentation mapping out the process. Doing this can help you see what works, plus you can convert the material into training manuals for new team members and if you need to scale.
Lead Statues and Definitions
Now that you’ve got your guidelines for the outreach process set, you can start looking at how you want to define target customers as they move through the sales and marketing funnel.
Doing this will help your lead generation team in two significant ways.
First, it will make sure everyone on the team is on the same page in understanding how the funnel works, and at what steps each potential customer is at while they move through it.
Second, these definitions can be used at the basis for your own Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, helping to keep everything uniform across the team.
Here are a couple of example definitions your team might be able to use:
- Unqualified – not a good lead or prospect
- Contacted – lead has been contacted
- Open – a lead that hasn’t been contacted
- In progress – a lead that has been claimed by a member of the lead gen team but not yet processed through the funnel
- Nurture – a lead that needs additional follow up after saying not interested
- Suspect – a lead that has been contacted, qualified, and is interested in a follow up
- Qualified – a lead who has met all the requirements and is ready to be handed off to the sales team
You can create labels and definitions based on your own needs, but the key is to make sure the team understands each of them and they are used consistently in your CRM system as well.
While the hand off process might seem like something that’s a no-brainer, it’s really important to have a system in place here.
After all, the last thing you want (or need) is to have a well qualified customer who is ready to buy pull out because of a problem during the hand off. Or worse, a potential customer who gets lost in the shuffle and moves on.
Avoid that by having collaboration in place between the lead generation team and the sales team with some standard guidelines that can be followed to keep the process systematized.
That way, when the steps are followed there should be a seamless transition.
Let’s take a look at a couple of steps, again use these as inspiration for your own system, that will help the hand off process go smoothly:
- Lead gen rep confirms time, date for scheduled call or meeting with sales rep with prospective customer
- Lead gen rep introduces prospective customer to sales rep via email (a calendar invite could be included)
- Sales rep responds to email and confirms/accepts meeting/call info (accept calendar invite)
- Lead gen rep updates prospective customer’s status and adds any notes in the CRM system
- After the call/meeting between prospective customer and sales rep the sales rep should either move the prospective customer to the next step in the funnel and take ownership if they are properly qualified, or if the prospective customer hasn’t been properly qualified hand back to the lead gen rep and go over proper qualifications, lead gen rep continues ownership from there
While these steps seem pretty obvious, and you might not want to write them down as a process, that would be a mistake. It is very easy for leads to slip through the cracks and for the lead gen and sales teams to point fingers at each other.
So, avoid that. Keep the process in place, and as always tweak and improve as you go.
Training Your Team
Hand in hand with getting the process down on paper is actually training the lead gen and sales teams to understand and follow the processes you’ve set up. Now, this could be as simple as writing it all down in a checklist form and tell people to start dialing, but your team (and your bottom line) will be better off if you do take the time to do a little bit of training beforehand.
If you leave people to figure out these processes on their own, you have a high risk chance of mistakes, misunderstandings, and errors to happen along the way.
This is why many brands look to augment their new hire training with sessions and training that specifically focuses on the sales and marketing funnel, your competition, and your processes for moving leads through the system.
Beyond the standard meetings that include a general overview of the company, as well as team structures, product demos, and software/system training, there are few additional sessions that can be included, for example:
- An overview of your target markets, ideal buyer personas, and target segments
- An overview of the lead management process, which would cover the guidelines set for outreach and the handoff processes
- An overview of any sales methodology, as well as a general look at the most important stages in the sales process and company guidelines
- In depth training on the lead generation process, this should include sitting in and listening to other members of the lead gen and sales teams to hear how different members approach leads
- Training on calls, this should include new lead gen members performing their own mock calls with other team members, sales team, and even product team to cover any questions/objections
As always, these sessions are suggestions, your team could have their own system in place, or even have more sessions. If you have a small brand or don’t have these systems set up now, you have to find a training system that will work for you.
Building an Asset Package
Many successful B2B lead generation teams have created packets that are called asset packages. These are given to every member of the lead generation team and contains information on specific target markets, personas, or segments that will help them really gain expertise relatively quickly.
Generally, these packages will fall to the lead gen team manager to put together, but they could also be spread across a number of departments, or standardized by the HR department if needed.
Here are some of the resources that can typically be found in an asset package:
Buyer Profile Guide
This can contain all of the most important information about target prospects (keep in mind you may need multiples of these for each buyer profile within your target market):
- buying role
- job function
- buying criteria
This is something that could be akin to a script lead gen reps can use, it helps guide reps through the most important questions and points that your brand wants to ensure they cover for qualifying and information gathering:
- friendly introduction
- explaining the reasoning behind the call, including how similar prospects they would be familiar with are using/benefiting from your product or service
- inquire about or describe a few pain points that your lead might have
- work to get as specific as possible on those pain points that are described by your lead gen rep or the prospective customer in order to gather key information
- explain the pain points back to the lead, to show understanding and and empathy, which will help transition to setting up the next call/meeting
- collect any other data that is specifically needed and ask if they would be willing to have a follow up call/meeting
Since most brands use email as a part of their touch system, it’s a good idea to include any email templates that the lead generation team should use as leads move through the sales funnel.
It’s important that these emails still achieve the overall goals of the lead gen process and match up to the proper steps in the funnel as well.
As always, be sure to keep updating these emails as time progresses. This is especially true if you shift to new or different pain points, or add more touches to your outreach process.
A great tool to have for the lead gen rep is a series of examples from current and former customers. The reps can pull out these examples to counteract any objections, and they can also serve as testimonials of sorts that can help keep the prospect interested.
Here are a few examples you could use (of course, be sure to get the ok from any examples you use from the customer):
- How did the deal start?
- What did the buying process look like?
- What were the biggest pains of this customer?
- What other brands were the customers looking at before purchase?
- How did the implementation process go?
- What kind of metrics has the company seen since implementation?
FAQs and Objections
It goes without saying that anytime a potential customer is confronted with a sales call, meeting, or email they are going to have questions and objections.
Arm your lead gen team with the tools to counteract those objections and frequently asked questions by compiling a list of them with some information on each.
A good rule of thumb is to have your five most common objections and your five most commonly asked questions detailed out on paper so the lead gen team will be able to easily provide the information the lead needs.
Another obvious one, but don’t forget to inform your lead generation team about your main competitors. And that doesn’t mean every potential competitor under the sun, it’s only those who are going after the same target personas as your brand.
Break down the strengths and weaknesses of your competition so the lead gen team can highlight how your brand stands out from the rest and will be the right fit for your leads.
Finally, include educational resources and material you want your lead generation team to be aware of. This could include places like industry blogs and publications, social media accounts, LinkedIn groups, and professional associations to name a few.
It’s important to actively encourage the lead gen team to keep up to date on what’s happening in the market, so be sure the resources and tools are constantly being updated.
Ready to Start?
Now that you’ve got the basics in place, your outbound lead generation team should be ready and raring to start.
Remember, once you have your systems in place keep revisiting them on a consistent basis so you can update and tweak the processes.