There’s a troublesome gap between most sales teams and marketing departments.
Marketers want lots of leads quickly, and they don’t have time to thoroughly vet every lead that comes through.
Sales teams, on the other hand, can’t afford to invest too much time pursuing leads that turn out to be unqualified.
That makes for wasted effort and frustration on both sides.
The ideal solution involves solid planning and boatloads of communication, and I’m not going to claim that software alone can get you there.
But it can certainly help.
You might know that Drip was acquired by Leadpages last year—and naturally, Leadpages’ sales and marketing teams quickly started using Drip. Its marketing automation capabilities have helped both companies create a swifter, smoother pipeline of qualified leads from marketing to sales.
In this post, I’m going to break down the 5-step sales and marketing automation workflow we use today—so you can bridge the departmental gap yourself.
Factors that Determine Lead Quality
In order to filter low- from high-quality leads, it’s important to first understand what data makes a lead a more qualified opportunity than others in regard to your business.
These are some of the factors we find important when determining lead quality:
- Company Size: Decide how big a prospect’s company needs to be in order to add value to your business—small startups might not have as much to commit to your service or product.
- Geographic Location: Those who are inquiring but are located out of your service area aren’t likely to be the high-quality lead you’re after.
- Job Title: When it comes to closing a sale, you want to ensure you’re always talking to a company’s decision maker. Collecting a lead’s job title will tell you if you’re dealing with a decision maker or a middleman.
- Event Attendance: If a lead has attended one of your events—a webinar, live chat, ecourse, etc.—their opt-in is a good sign they’re close to purchasing.
- Switched from a Different Tool/Strategy: This information will give you insight into what characteristics of your own product you can highlight that are better or different than what they were previously using.
- “@CompanyName.com” Email Address: A lead with a company email address is more likely to be a high-quality lead than one with a generic email, e.g., @hotmail.com.
Many B2B companies try to grab all this information at once by requiring it on their opt-in forms. The risk of that approach is that you can screen out even high-quality leads who don’t want to give you tons of their time or data at this stage of the relationship.
Instead, look for opportunities to observe (rather than just ask for) the data that defines lead quality for your business. Your email automation platform should be able to use integrations with other marketing software (like your webinar platform) to update contact records. You might also consider appending data from a business intelligence tool like Clearbit for Salesforce.
Once you’ve pinpointed the information you need to identify a high-quality lead, it’s time to start automating.
Use the data you collect on your landing pages to determine which leads present the greatest opportunity. When lead quality is determined, trigger different automated paths for each type of lead so each is being nurtured just right.
How Drip Linked Sales and Marketing Automation to Identify High-quality Leads
Here’s a sample five-step automation workflow you can use to start passing more qualified leads from marketing to sales, based on strategies we’ve adopted at Drip.
Step 1: Get notified of high-quality leads
It would be a bummer if a high-quality prospect submitted your opt-in form and went totally unnoticed. With Drip, you can create automated workflows that send an internal email notification every time someone enters info that meets your established threshold.
The workflow below begins when a prospect submits a landing page. Tags indicating company size and email address are automatically applied to the subscriber, creating our first fork.
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For this particular workflow, I’m not considering a lead with fewer than 25 employees and an email ending in “@gmail.com” as high-quality. However, I still make sure to send them my Demo Follow-up campaign. I want to maintain a good relationship and nurture that lead with content that makes sense for the stage of their business instead of ignoring them completely. With my help, they’ll continue to grow their list and may even become a highly qualified lead in the future.
If the lead has a company size of 25 or more employees and has an email address not ending in “@gmail.com,” I’m considering that a qualified lead I want to get in touch with.
Drip automatically deploys a notification email so I don’t miss this opportunity. Any team member can receive a lead notification email so the right salespeople get the right info every time.
Step 2: Nurture your leads
Once you’ve successfully captured a lead through your landing page, it’s time to nurture them. This means delivering your free downloadables, following up with tips or tricks, or simply checking in to see if there’s anything else you can do to help.
The point is, don’t let a lead get ice cold, even if it isn’t ready for your sales team.
We’ve just seen how Drip can enter leads into workflows, apply tags and send them specific email campaigns—all with automation. However, Drip also has the power to continuously nurture these leads via implementation of actions, time delays and goals within workflows.
For example, the workflow below shows that after our qualified lead receives my “Demo Call” email campaign, I’m going to wait 3 days before checking in on their status and acting from there.
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If this lead has scheduled a demo, I’m going to record that event. If they haven’t scheduled after three days, though, I’m going to send them another email campaign nudging them to register. If at any time during this workflow the lead schedules their demo in Calendly, they jump to the orange “goal” box in the workflow and are pulled from any email campaigns they were subscribed to.
Automated lead nurturing you won’t have to remember to manually reach out to leads with follow-up emails a few days after they’ve signed up because a powerful tool can do it for you.
Sending a trickle of appropriate and engaging content to leads is exactly what nurturing means, and it’s what Drip was made for.
Step 3: Schedule demos for the most qualified leads
Marketing automation can replace one of the sales team’s most inconvenient tasks: scheduling demos and appointments. (Which can be a never-ending back-and-forth with all leads, high-quality or otherwise.)
When you invest time and energy in scheduling a demo, you want to be sure that the lead is going to show up and has sincere interest.
Our sales team recently set out to boost demo appointments and decrease demo no-shows. Our theory was that higher-quality leads were more likely to make and keep an appointment. The solution: increase demo lead quality without giving up valuable time from the marketing or sales teams.
We found we needed to be more selective in who we were sending Calendly demo scheduling links. When we showed Calendly links to everyone on a post-signup thank you page, conversion rates were very low as even the most uninterested prospect was getting asked to schedule a demo.
To improve the percentage of leads who made and kept a demo appointment, we made Calendly links available only to contacts with a certain number of subscribers and a company email address. (While we don’t always believe Gmail addresses aren’t highly qualified, our data showed that 99% of no-shows had emails ending with @gmail.com.)
When a prospect would enter their name, email address, and email subscriber count, they would be shown one of two thank you pages—either one with a Calendly link or one without. They would also be sent an email either with or without the link inside.
(Note: We had to do some coding in-house to make the specific thank you-page automation. However, you can easily automate who receives specific follow-up emails within Drip, sans coding!)
Below you can see how I created a workflow that leads enter when they submit my opt-in form. If they meet my criteria for a high-quality lead (more than 15,000 subscribers and an address without @gmail.com), they are sent an email with a Calendly link. If they don’t meet the criteria, they are still sent a thank you follow-up email campaign.
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Here’s a screenshot of what a qualified lead would see—a Calendly calendar showing available dates for scheduling a demo. Simple and intuitive, just like it should be.
This automation increased both our lead quality as well as the number of demos being scheduled. We boosted our “demo requested” to “demo scheduled” ratio from 35% to 70% with these changes, and the people we ultimately spoke with were far more qualified overall.
Step 4: Organize and prioritize call lists
So far we’ve shown how email automation can notify you of the highest-quality leads, nurture them, and help with scheduling demos. Your vetted leads are primed and ready to go at this point, so now is the time to start closing deals and making sales calls.
Email automation can help here, too. A tool like Drip can help you organize call lists and prioritize leads for the day based on their activity, tags, and more.
Let’s say I want to reach out to specific qualified leads to talk about scheduling a meeting in their area. I can click into Drip’s Subscribers tab and apply filters to show me only the leads who fit the bill. I choose the hot leads who match my criteria and start calling.
Once you’re collecting the prospect information your sales team needs to know, they can quickly filter thousands of leads without having to call on marketing for help.
Step 5: Get briefed before every sales call
Once you’ve identified a very high-quality lead, shown them a demo, and chosen a time to chat, it’s time for sales to pick up the phone and close the deal.
But before dialing, they should check out the lead’s subscriber activity record in Drip to personalize the call. After all, this lead has proven to be very interested in you, so why not become very interested in them?
Before your sales rep reaches out to a hot lead, they can find the lead’s activity record and see a complete story of their journey with your company so far.
Here you can see what pages a lead has visited, what forms they’ve submitted, what content they’ve perused, what emails they’ve subscribed to, what tags have been applied—the whole shebang.
Take note of big events or trends you notice in a lead’s activity record. It will help you understand what objections you might have to overcome or what could be good to reference during your call. Once your call is complete, it’s worth tagging the lead as “called_lead” so you can keep track of those you’ve already been personally in touch with.
And with any luck, you’ll see a “customer” tag pop up on their record soon after the call.
Marketing Automation: Your Newest Sales Assistant?
The combination of sales and marketing automation tools automatically delivers hot leads to hungry sales teams. The best part? Neither marketing nor sales teams have to sacrifice time to segment, vet or prioritize leads to ensure you’re never missing your most interested prospects.
If the ideas here have you itching to see what other process you can automate, you might want to check out our complete recordings from our Automated 2017 conference, held just last month. You’ll get the latest automation ideas and practical implementation advice from more than a dozen automation pros.
Your first step is setting up a simple workflow in Drip that will directly notify your sales team when someone completes an opt-in form—easy peasy.
From there, you can start honing an automated lead nurturing strategy that will free up valuable time that used to be spent vetting leads, scheduling demos, and following up. And that should make sales and marketing staff alike very, very happy.
Wondering how automation could improve your sales process? Share the details in the comments and we’ll do a little brainstorming.