Did you know that the average salesperson only makes two attempts to reach a prospect? That’s according to research and advisory firm SiriusDecisions, and it’s a statistic that shouldn’t be all that surprising. Not all salespeople are created equal. Only the best successfully nurture cold leads from the top of the funnel down by making regular, relevant touches that provide the right content at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
B2B sales typically have longer buy cycles, which means salespeople instinctively spend more time following up, answering questions and providing details to their warmer leads. As a result, cold leads often get neglected. Not to mention, today’s buyers — like the ones that found your company without a salesperson — are digital consumers that are NOT as reliant on the traditional sales process. In fact, those buyers can be up to 70% of the way through the buyer’s journey (from awareness right up to getting ready to make a decision) before reaching out to sales. They expect to find answers on their own terms and only want to talk to sales when they are getting close to making a decision.
So, how do you successfully stay in touch with all leads and progress them from the top of the funnel down to get more sales-ready opportunities? The answer is marketing automation.
Marketing Automation: Working 24/7
We like to personify marketing automation as a salesperson that never sleeps, works 24/7 and doesn’t require an insurance or benefits package. Marketing automation captures lead information and automates repetitive sales and marketing tasks like email, social and other website actions. It also tracks and scores each lead’s digital behavior so that you know how they are interacting with your marketing. Once an optimal lead score is achieved, your sales department can be alerted to step in and close the deal.
Our Marketing Automation Example
It can be difficult to grasp the benefits and functionality of marketing automation when summarized into a general overview. We have found that it’s beneficial to provide an example to make the picture a little clearer. Here’s an example of how we have utilized marketing automation at Adventure:
We have a long sales cycle and utilize various channels and tactics to engage leads. The majority of our leads want to kick tires before talking to us. To accommodate them, we set up four different lead magnets on our website that each provided value in a specific area of expertise.
When a visitor expressed interest by clicking on a particular resource, they were directed to a landing page to download the lead magnet. They filled out a form with basic contact information (name, email and company) and submited. After submitting, they got the PDF download and we got insight into their particular interest. The marketing automation platform created a lead in our database, notified a sales rep and triggered a series of automated communications, specific to their particular download, all with the goal of getting them to set up a meeting with sales. The messaging and communication intervals depended on which lead magnet was downloaded.
Here is what the series looked like:
- Day 1 — The lead magnet is downloaded & a thank you email from the appropriate sales rep is deployed
- Day 2 — The sales rep emails with another relevant content gift
- Day 3 — The sales rep emails with a final gift
- Day 5 — The company emails explaining what can be gained from scheduling a meeting
- Day 7 — The company emails explaining why a meeting makes sense
- Day 9 — The company emails creating urgency to schedule a meeting
- Day 14 — The company emails to determine if there is still interest
- Day 21 — The company emails a final time to determine if there is still interest
The series is pictured below. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the images and scroll through the gallery.
Value of Marketing Automation
Marketing automation allows you to send all touches in a specific order at predetermined intervals. So, whether a lead comes in today, tomorrow, a month from now or a year from now, they begin each program from the beginning on their own schedule. This allows you to control the narrative and tell the story you want in the order you want. This is one of the big differentiators of automation when compared to typical email software.
Here is a summary of why you should consider marketing automation;
- It doesn’t allow opportunities to slip through the cracks
- It appeases the modern buyer and keeps your company top of mind when a need arises
- It’s not just for lead nurturing… automation can be used for current client upsell/cross-sell programs, lead generation and pre/during/post tradeshow programs
- Nurtured leads make, on average, 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads