Lead Lifecycle Best Practices – Miracle Grow for Your Leads

Even if you aren’t one yourself, everyone is familiar with the work of the farmer. You plant your seeds. You tend your crop. You reap your harvest. It takes a lot of effort, patience, and attention to details. However, the work is critical to the foundation of everything else. Without a steady supply of food, this whole enterprise we call society would evaporate pretty quickly. The same can be said for supplying a company with leads and sales. Those leads are your seeds, you tend them with your marketing initiatives, and your sales team comes in to harvest those closed opportunities.

Planting the Seeds

You have new contacts. It is time to plant some new seeds. If those seeds are going to successfully grow, they will need proper attention. You have to make sure that the dirt they grow in is tilled and clear of weeds. In terms of a Marketo Engage instance, that means having operational programs to manage your scoring, status tracking, and data hygiene. Then those seeds will need sunlight and nutrition. This will come from your marketing campaigns.

Working the land is a never ending task for the farmer, and so is maintaining the operational programs that sustain a healthy Marketo instance. The Sales and Marketing Teams should be constantly collaborating with each other to identify the actions with the highest predictive value for an eventual sale. Scoring programs need to be developed and kept up to date. Other programs will move records through your sales lifecycle based on the criteria your company determines. This kind of constant maintenance leads to healthy soil for your seeds, and healthy soil means a better chance for a bountiful harvest.

Those seeds need their own food, water, and sunlight to grow. This sustenance is provided by your marketing initiatives. From simple email sends to webinars to advanced nurture programs and everything in between, Marketo Engage can automate your processes and help you track your audience’s actions. You can set your own controls to make sure you supply the right combination of nutrients and avoid overexposure. 

And They Sprout!

Your Marketo programs will make sure your crops stay watered and fertilized. Every time one of the records interacts with your campaigns, it stores just a little more energy and grows a little more. Maybe it was your monthly webinar series, or maybe it was your presentation at a tradeshow. All of these pieces of marketing start to add up, and the seed is now sprouting toward the heavens.

Eventually a seed has grown enough that you consider it ready to pass along to your Sales team. This is one of the primary purposes of your scoring program, to determine when a record meets this qualification. Upon meeting this threshold, the record becomes what is known as a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead). Through their ongoing collaboration, Marketing and Sales have agreed that a record with that score will typically be ready for the sales process to start.

The Sales Team will then do their own assessment of the lead. If they like what they see, the Sales Team will accept the MQL turning the record into a SAL (Sales Accepted Lead) as it continues through the sales process. If the Sales Team thinks the record is not quite ready, they can simply recycle the lead back into the general marketing initiatives.

Continuing to Care for Your Leads

In real life, you tend to make your harvests all at once. However, a Marketo instance using a well maintained lifecycle model will utilize in its design a series of campaigns listening for triggers to recycle those records rejected for whatever reason by the Sales Team. So instead of having to harvest and discard a record that did not bear fruit, you can instead continue to nurture it. As the record once again engages with your content, it will start accumulating points again leading it back to its status as a MQL.

This kind of per record analysis and sorting allows you to take as long as you need for each contact to be at its perfect opportunity to harvest. You can keep records in your automation flows with minimal staff effort. In fact, advanced marketing strategies can be developed to specifically target those records that have been recycled by Sales, hopefully bringing them back to Sales with a higher chance of success. This automated process keeps your salespeople free to focus on the most fruitful records.

SALs Need Love Too

Even if a record is a SAL and being specifically targeted, it remains rooted in the soil of your Marketo instance. Using the proper logic, you can use Marketo to automate announcements, reminders, or other notices to your SALs. These automated processes again can free up your salespeople to do what they do best, sell, instead of having to reach out personally in every instance.

As Sales continues to work with the record, they could determine that they were too overeager in their assessment, and the record should not have become a SAL. They can still choose to recycle a record to a previous status in the life cycle. Or, if they continue to like what they see, they can decide the contact is ready to become a SQL (Sales Qualified Lead). Usually, a SQL becomes associated with a sales opportunity which means those records are ready for harvest.

Harvest Season

The Sales Team actively works with their sales opportunities, answering questions and keeping the contact engaged. Marketo can still be leveraged at this point in the life cycle with the ongoing collaboration between Marketing and Sales determining its role at this late stage.

Unfortunately, nature can still ruin a harvest through no fault of the farmer. Likewise, even the most seemingly likely opportunities can fall apart through no direct fault of Marketing or Sales. You have nourished and guarded your crops, but a small twist of fate can ruin your harvest. You can only fight so hard against a drought. If that turns out to be the case, and the opportunity was lost, the Sales Team can make the decision to recycle the record to a previous status or move on to other contacts.

Sure not every individual seed will grow into a useful piece of produce, but taken in aggregate, your well tended crop will yield a bountiful harvest of closed won opportunities. What started as a load of stored potential inside your tiny seeds has grown into delectable fruits and vegetables that your company sustains itself on. From their humble beginnings as anonymous seeds in the dirt, your records were nourished and cared for by well designed marketing initiatives until the Sales Team was able to come and pick all the valuable yields.

Reach out to Leadous today to see how we can help you make sure you produce a bountiful cornucopia from your fields.

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