The black hole between sales and marketing

Leads can be the best and worst thing to pursue with your business.

Why? Leads – whether it be from referrals, networking, opt-ins etc – are the lifeblood of any organization. 

On the flip side, however, it can seem that the one thing you have trouble with in your business is actually converting the leads that come your way. Of course you’re not alone in this; the average lead conversion rate across all industries is 2.35%. Put another way, if 100 leads came your way, only 3 of them would convert into sales. Why are countless organizations affected by this? While there may be many reasons for this less than optimal conversion rate, one reason stands at the forefront of many organizations. This less than optimal conversion rate is often a symptom of a looming gap between marketing and sales. 

In this article, we’ll identify:

  1. The problem with your lead strategy – Why your business is losing out on leads (when in reality you don’t have to). 
  2. The sales and marketing relationship – Where the biggest pitfall occurs in “losing” leads during your marketing & sales processes.
  3. The solution – How you can rectify these pitfalls in order to lead your business to lead conversion dominance.

So let’s get into it.

The problem with your lead strategy

In order to identify the problem with your lead strategy, we need to identify where leads begin. There are two areas of your business in which this happens: your marketing side and your sales side. Our research has found that when the “handoff” between the two sides occurs, 55% of leads are lost and head into “lead limbo.”

That’s over half the potential leads that can help grow your business are being lost. Plain and simple, this cannot happen.

We’re going to dissect both areas of your business in order to diagnose and cure our lead ailments.

The marketing side

Your marketing department is where your lead journey begins. Think about all the efforts you employ with your marketing strategy. You probably have many different mediums, tools, and strategies in place to help gather leads for your business:

  • Paid advertising
  • Organic content
  • Social media
  • SEO
  • Physical mail materials

When you’re marketing department looks for leads, a wide net is generally cast. Numbers are what is important here. 

As you exit this stage, after you have some “bites”, it’s important to get these leads over to your sales department.  

It can be frustrating as a marketer – you spend countless hours and resources to bring in leads to the rest of the organization. The marketing team is atop the lead funnel. You’ve done a lot of hard work for the sales team; you’ve brought the leads right to their doorstep (cough, email inbox). 

But why isn’t your sales team converting those leads? 

Well for one, the leads aren’t followed up with enough. 

Take for instance the research conducted by Marketing Donut wherein 92% of sales professionals give up after their 4th call; however, 80% of prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes”.

In other words, it’s not the marketing team or the leads – but perhaps something else.

The sales side

Once the leads have been generated, it’s time for your sales team to “stick the landing.” On paper, this should be a toss up. Your marketing team has generated a handful of potential leads, now let your persuasive-professionals do their part by illustrating the value of your product/service and secure the sale.

But you know as well as anyone that it isn’t this simple. Why?

Well contrary to what Alec Baldwin asserted in his famous Glengarry Glen Ross speech, the leads are, in fact, weak. At least the leads that are coming through the door via your marketing team. According to research, 61% of B2B marketers believe that generating higher quality leads is their biggest challenge. Furthermore, 67% of lost sales are as a result of sales representatives not properly qualifying their potential customers prior to taking them through the entire sales sequence.

Ideally, your marketing team (gathering the leads) would work seamlessly with your sales team (the ones converting the leads). Clearly this isn’t happening.

The solution: lead qualification

As we’ve uncovered, simply generating leads with your marketing efforts and handing them off to your sales team to convert isn’t enough.

There needs to be a “bridge” that ensures prospects who are ready to buy aren’t lost in the exchange. Just because a lead from your marketing efforts is handed over to your sales team doesn’t mean it’s a lead worthy of pursuit, you may need a tool in place to help you qualify if the lead is worth of pursuit or not. Conversely, a sales team only has a limited amount of bandwidth, qualification of the lead being passed over is of the utmost importance, maybe you need a tool that helps with the handoff.

There are methods one can employ in order to bridge the divide between marketing and sales so everyone is using their talents, tools, and strategies at the most effective levels.

This is where lead engagement and qualification comes in. Studies indicate that when you are the first to respond to a lead, you are 3X more likely to convert the lead versus being second to respond. However, if your sales team is busy chasing the wrong leads, being first to respond becomes a lot more difficult. 

Finding the bandwidth in your organization to instantly and constantly follow up and qualify leads can be tough. With a proper alignment of your sales and marketing team, you instantly experience a boost in recapturing leads that may have fallen into the “black hole” of lost leads. 

When you align your sales and marketing efforts, what other advances in lead qualification strategy can you add on? Perhaps you can put in place strategies to nurture leads that aren’t ready to buy. Nurturing leads is developing relationships with potential buyers throughout multiple stages of the purchasing process (especially over the long-term). Research notes that 50% of leads in any system aren’t ready to buy and companies that emphasize lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower costs.

Where in your organization can you make the minor tweaks in your sales and marketing relationship that will yield impactful benefits? Marketing and sales can (and should) be designed to work harmoniously, and when they do – your organization will see the benefits immediately.