Three ways sales can help improve lead quality

A recent urban planning trend is to convert one-way streets to two-way operations—an effort that has improved vehicular access and reduced driver confusion across U.S. cities. It’s a similar battle to eliminate barriers between marketing and sales to share information and processes to improve targeting and buyer experience.

The question is, if so many organizations are focusing on improving the customer journey, why do only 8 percent of B2B companies claim to have tight alignment between sales and marketing?* Why do so many “modernized” sales processes produce more bottlenecks than converted leads? And what exactly does it take to improve the quality and quantity of marketing and sales qualified leads?

Let’s explore three common reasons that the buyer’s journey grinds to a halt, and how sales teams can unclog the bottlenecks to dramatically improve lead quality.

Bottleneck #1: Marketing leads are anything but “qualified”

A city transportation department needs a real-time view of street traffic to take preemptive steps to keep drivers moving. Marketing and sales similarly need to understand where prospects are in the buyer’s journey to guide their path.

Too often, however, sales reps receive marketing qualified leads (MQLs) with little context to guide their next step—information like company sizing, pain points, touchpoint interactions, and sales content downloaded or viewed. From first contact, the sales rep lacks the intelligence to make the best possible decisions on how to proceed with an opportunity or lead. That’s why half of sales reps throw away around 50 percent of leads sent their way*. They simply don’t have enough information to identify an opportunity.

Solution: Align with the buyer’s unique purchasing process

Today’s customer journey must be a two-way street. Start by working together to create a common definition of who the target customer is. Understand their motivations, behaviors, and activities. Then establish a feedback loop to enable sales to share frontline knowledge about the optimal buyer: market trends, pain points, effective sales tactics, and where to find and reach best-converting prospects.

We know—it’s easier said than done, unless you have the right tools and processes. When teams deploy Dynamics 365 for Marketing and Dynamics 365 for Sales, for example, the process is greatly simplified. Built on the same platform with a common data model, you can accelerate the transformation of engagement from a one-way transaction to a two-way dialogue between sales and marketing, mapped to each buyer’s unique journey. With a single view of the customer, you can share one source of information about contacts, leads, and customers to deliver consistent results across the buyer’s journey. Marketing can improve the type of information gathered on landing pages and inquiry forms, sales is provided the right details to continue the conversation (rather than start from scratch), and prospects stay interested and excited about the possibility of landing the right solution.

Bottleneck #2: Lack of engagement history

It’s tough to recover from a botched handoff between marketing and sales, especially when sales reps are sheltered from the activities that sent a prospect their way in the first place.

With no insight into the prospect’s journey, sales reps often introduce themselves with 100-level questions answered earlier in the journey or share a form email that invites a small business owner to download an eBook targeting enterprise CEOs. Or worse, attempt to close right away or before the right people are at the table. With no access to engagement history, sales presses the reset button on the buyer’s journey, projecting incompetence that drives away business.

Solution: Insight-driven customer engagement

Don’t just gather and share basic contact data about your leads—standard landing page fields like name, company, company size, and role. Instead, empower sales reps with insights about each prospects’ marketing interactions—how they entered the journey, which campaign landed a click or form submission, and where they are in the buyer’s journey. By gathering the right sales intelligence, sales reps are equipped to pick up where marketing left off, continuing the conversation and accelerating deals—with no hiccups in the buyer’s journey.

Dynamics 365 for Marketing unlocks the unique insights that sellers need when interacting with buyers.

You can prioritize leads ready for sales engagement with multiple lead scoring models and sales readiness grades, and move prospects more efficiently through the buyer’s journey with automated workflows to hand off sales-ready leads and drive follow ups. That clears up a big bottleneck, allowing sellers to deliver authentic, relevant interactions at scale.

Bottleneck #3: Valuable prospects not ready to buy get lost

When reengineering one-way streets into two-way avenues, city planners often hyper-focus on optimizing street parking. After all, not every journey is from point A to point B. The same behavior applies to the customer journey. You need to enable prospects to easily pull to the side when they’re not ready to beeline to the finish line. Too often, the sales process only offers an express lane, which means that any prospect not ready to buy is forced to keep driving toward another, more accommodating solution.

Solution: Recycle leads for an eventual sale

Sales re-engagement is a powerful tool to boost sales quota—if the teams are equipped to move prospects back into the nurture stream. Successful lead recycling requires the ability to tag and score recycled leads, enabling marketing to add them to a recycle campaign for educational content specifically tailored to keep undecided leads engaged, as well enable intelligent lead nurturing that ensures leads aren’t passed to sales too quickly in the first place. With Dynamics 365 for Marketing, your teams can set up dedicated segments and a buyer journey to easily recycle leads for further nurture.

Shorten the commute time from prospect to customer

Check out the demo to learn how Dynamics 365 for Marketing can help you nurture more sales-ready leads and also available is our webinar on Top 3 Myths of the Buyer’s Journey.

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*CEB Marketing Leadership Council, survey of 22 large B2B organizations