The reality though is that no IT company really wants just leads.
IT companies want and need leads that materialize into desirable, profitable, long-term paying clients and positive ROI.
So with that in mind, it really doesn’t make sense to look at lead generation in a vacuum, without taking into account the middle- and end- of the sales cycle.
Approached correctly, your IT lead gen campaigns should also help to accelerate your sales cycle – so sales closer faster. In other words, when it comes to a well-planned Inbound marketing campaign, your lead generation is only half of the puzzle. The other half: sales acceleration.
To make this happen efficiently and consistently, consider adopting these four sales cycle acceleration strategies.
For large-ticket B2B technology purchase decisions, there is almost always a sales cycle that’s typically measured in weeks or months. (For very large ticket technology investments, sometimes the sales cycle length can be measured in years.)
By trickling highly-relevant content into the email inboxes of your leads, you invite your leads back to your website to continue consuming your thought leadership, so they continue to fall in love with your educational resources and by extension, your company.
Done right, lead nurturing bolted on top of your IT lead generation campaign can shave 23% off your average sales cycle length. In other words, if you have a 26 week sales cycle, good lead nurturing can get you a signature on the dotted line in most cases about 6 weeks sooner.
Workflows and Marketing Automation
10 years ago a traditional lead nurturing campaign would be adequate for sales cycle acceleration. However today, your prospects are jumping around in many different channels – between lead nurturing sequences, email newsletters, Tweets, LinkedIn status updates and posts, Facebook posts, Google+ posts, conversations with sales reps, website revisits, and more.
In the old days, a simple linear lead nurturing sequence was adequate. Today with all of these different interactions, and even a moderate volume of lead flow, it’s simply not cost-effective for your sales reps to touch every lead – until leads are demonstrating sales readiness.
While the definition of sales readiness will vary, by using workflows and marketing automation, you can get more of your cold and warm leads transformed into hot, sales-ready conversations. This way, your sales team can spend more time closing deals with highly-interested prospects, rather than doing tons of grunt work with those that are not (yet) interested.
Sales Funnel Optimization
Many small IT companies have built up their initial client base nearly 100% from referrals through their personal network of contacts. The trouble with that approach however is it simply doesn’t scale as most founders exhaust their stockpile of cousins, former bosses, school buddies, and neighbors somewhere between 6 and 24 months into the life of their businesses. To scale beyond that, the IT business will need to build a sales funnel that’s optimized for how each of their most important decision makers navigates the buyer’s journey.
To transform your IT lead generation campaigns into clients and revenue growth, be sure to take into account both the different challenges faced by your different personas, as well as the different stages of the client lifecycle: awareness, consideration, and decision-making.
So if you’re trying to attract decision makers from three different buyer personas and there are three different stages of the buyer’s journey, you’ll need at the absolute minimum nine different IT lead generation offers to properly optimize your sales funnel.
Sales and Marketing Alignment (Smarketing)
Sales people frequently complain about the leads generated by their marketing departments. And marketing departments frequently respond back that the leads are very high-quality, but the lazy salespeople sat on the leads too long (warm leads went cold) and gave up too soon (leads abandoned after only one or two attempts).
Today 57% of the typical B2B sales cycle is over before decision makers talk to anyone in your company. So because your sales team is completely absent from conversations for nearly 60% of the decision-making process, it’s critical make-or-break for sales and marketing teams to work much more closely together than they historically ever have.
The strategies for doing so are a little more complicated than we can cover in this post, but at the birds eye view sales and marketing must both be quota driven, be in constant communications with each other, and close the loop on which sales outcomes come from which marketing activities.
Many new to IT lead generation mistakenly believe that leads automatically equal future revenue. However in the age where decision makers are much more empowered than they’re ever been, with seemingly unlimited choices and high levels of competitive pressures, you can no longer afford to look at your lead gen campaigns in a vacuum.
In this post, you’ve been introduced to four major sales cycle acceleration strategies that you can use to get more positive ROI from your lead generation campaigns.
What does your company do to get leads to turn into paying clients and revenue growth faster? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.
To learn more about how to incorporate IT lead generation and sales cycle acceleration into your overall marketing plans, download your complimentary copy of the IT Channel Inbound Marketing Planning Guide.