Six reasons why your MQLs aren’t converting into sales opportunities
Although the exact definition of what constitutes a ‘qualified lead’ for marketing folks differs somewhat between organizations, by and large the industry definition of a ‘Marketing Qualified Lead’ – or MQL – is the details of a person or organization who has indicated an interest in your brand by engaging on some level. Perhaps they have visited particular web pages, downloaded some content or opted into a program but, either way, they have voluntarily shared their contact details and are therefore more likely to become a customer than other leads.
Marketing has successfully opened the door to that lead, and all that’s left for them to do is nurture it along the path for a seamless handover to Sales for them to pronounce it a ‘Sales Qualified Lead’ (SQL). Easy, right?
Well, maybe not easy. As the saying goes, ‘many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip’ and, unfortunately, many MQLs don’t end up converting to sales opportunities. Why?
It’s all too easy to point to one specific phase of marketing activity as the cause of low sales acceptance rates but, in reality, there are usually a number of complex reasons why your MQLs aren’t converting.
Let’s look at some of the contributing factors from an end-to-end perspective and offer some guidance on steps you could take to augment results.
1) You’re not reaching the decision makers
It might sound obvious, but one of the most common demand generation challenges we come across is accurate audience targeting. If your marketing is only engaging decision influencers, or worse, people who have no influence at all over the buying process, then your sales team is unlikely to qualify a lead as a genuine opportunity to secure a sale. Typically, this issue becomes a challenge when the focus is on awareness or lead generation at scale, or when a target audience hasn’t been segmented and refined. Without defining the personas you need to influence, you risk attracting leads from stakeholders that ultimately can’t progress an opportunity.
2) You’re only reaching decision makers
While connecting with a C-level decision maker may seem like the Holy Grail in demand generation, there are nevertheless certain factors to take into consideration. Firstly, has a need for your proposition been established? Secondly, is it likely that the facilitators of your products/solutions will back the c-suite decision to invest? And finally, will the end users truly benefit from your products/solutions?
Engaging with everyone within the sphere of influence of the buying decision is crucial in progressing your leads to the next stage.
3) Your content isn’t managing your prospects’ expectations
Exaggerating your organization’s proposition, capabilities, turnaround times and potential cost and/or efficiency savings may help generate impressive numbers of leads in the short term, but in the long term, they’ll be less likely to convert into sales opportunities when you’re unable to deliver on some of these promises.
Don’t make false promises to attract interest or generate demand. If your message is targeted and you’re reaching the right people at the right time, it should generate engagement on its own merit.
4) You’re not customising your follow up activity
So your lead is swimming close to your bait, but you still need to hook them. It’s crucial at this point to ensure the content you choose to share with your lead is relevant to their individual needs. In particular:
- Does the content demonstrate a clear understanding of the pain points facing your lead and how your proposition might help solve these? How is your solution superior to competitors? What evidence can you supply that proves the value of your products/solutions?
- Even if all of your leads are within the same job function, seniority, location and industry, it’s likely they will have different short, medium and long term needs, so your lead nurturing process needs to mirror these.
- Consider how your content maps to the funnel stage that the lead is at and that you’re enabling them to move through the content journey at their own pace. Easily digestible content, such as videos or blogs, for example, is useful at awareness stage, but following evidence of some engagement from the lead, they should automatically be progressed to the next stage where the content becomes a little more comprehensive, such as white papers or case studies.
It’s worth the additional investment required to identify and address these individual needs during the lead nurturing process, If your content isn’t sufficiently targeted, you will likely struggle to move leads on from being ‘potential’ to a qualified sales opportunity.
5) You’re following up too late
Timing is everything. If you wait too long after a lead has been generated, people will start to disengage. Put yourself in the shoes of the lead; if you had shown a digital interest in a particular product or service, you would reasonably expect, or want, that company to approach you soon afterwards to find out more. As a vendor, if you can’t respond quickly enough to progress or secure a sales opportunity, it’s unlikely your prospects will have confidence in your ability to be proactive if they did purchase from you.
Having a nurture program in place prior to commencing any lead acquisition activity is a best practice approach that we recommend for our clients as it ensures that all recently engaged leads are followed up with in a timely manner and reduces the risk of them going cold
6) You’re pitching too hard, too soon
Delivering a sales pitch too early is one of the most common causes of leads not converting into sales opportunities; aggressive sales processes can turn off prospects – particularly those who are not yet ready to buy.
Instead, consider the steps your prospects have been through and the touchpoints they’ve had before you engage in a sales conversation with them. Score their interactions with your content, website, social media posts and any other meaningful activity you can track, then follow-up directly with a personalized approach to the prospect once their score hits a certain threshold.
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