3 Marketing Mistakes That Stop Sales Leads from Becoming Customers

To build a sales funnel that really works, sales and marketing teams need to set objective goals and agree on consistent lead qualification criteria that will define each phase of the buyer’s journey. 

Organizations that don’t get departments on the same page run the risk of losing highly-qualified leads, missing out on potential customers, or passing off contacts to sales without enough context and nurturing.

As a B2B marketing agency, Ironpaper works with a variety of clients who all have a unique marketing to sales handoff. While many clients establish effective processes, three common mistakes prevent some from turning qualified sales leads into customers.

1. Moving Sales Leads from MQL to SQL Too Early

Given that businesses are concerned with revenue, a natural reaction is to direct leads who share their contact information immediately to sales. While some deals will close using this strategy, far more prospects will be turned off by such an aggressive approach.

That’s why companies need to build sales funnels that have unique content in the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of the buyer’s journey. This strategy will make sure prospective buyers are nurtured properly and sent to a sales representative at the right time.

Businesses are concerned with revenue, so it’s no surprise they want to share new leads with sales right away.

It’s also essential to establish lead qualification criteria that both the marketing and sales teams can agree on. While a wide variety of information could be included, each lead level generally looks something like this:

  • Lead: name, email address, and company name 
  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL): Lead criteria + pain points
  • Sales Qualified Leads (SQL): MQL criteria + purpose of inquiry 

To gather these details, use progressive profiling. It will keep landing page forms simple, eliminate redundant data, and ensure that relevant prospect information is entering the CRM.

lead-qualification-criteria

2. Neglecting Lead Nurturing Campaigns

The right time to move a lead from marketing to sales will be slightly different for each prospect. However, referring to the lead qualification criteria and having effective follow-up processes, or lead nurturing, in place can guarantee sales leads move down the funnel at their own pace.

While leads can be nurtured in a variety of ways, it usually makes sense to enroll them in an email series as part of the process. That way, helpful blog posts, case studies, and fact sheets shepherd them through the buyer’s journey until they’ve met the SQL criteria or asked to speak to sales.

Unfortunately, most leads won’t be ready to talk to sales right away. Instead, they will need to engage with several pieces of content before they’re interested in one-on-one conversations. Engaging prospects each step of the way can build the relationship necessary to get the sale. 

3. Ignoring Critical Data and Motivations

Marketing teams can leverage CRM data to determine a prospect’s level of interest and engagement. Contact records will show what pieces of content sales leads have engaged with and what resonated most. Leveraging this information, marketing teams can generate and deliver tailored emails that speak to the prospective buyer’s pain points and challenges through a nurture series. 

hubspot-marketing-sales-handoff

Unfortunately, this information doesn’t always get passed along. Often, leads that transition from marketing to sales start with a blank slate because the teams haven’t effectively communicated with each other about lead qualification criteria. Taking advantage of the activity and notes sections in your CRM can be used to share valuable information about lead engagement. 

So, we need to address sales queues too. For example, sales teams miss signals that prospects give (pain points, motivations, triggers) that signify what motivates them and their company.

For example, analyzing responsiveness can help determine whether or not a lead can be classified as an SQL and redirected to sales. That way, both the marketing and sales teams have clear visibility into where prospects stand and can create the next steps to move them down the funnel.

The Importance of Clearly-Defined Lead Criteria 

Establishing lead qualification criteria and opening the lines of communication between marketing and sales can ensure leads move down the funnel. Modern software, like HubSpot, has both CRM and marketing automation functionality to facilitate seamless handoffs that drive positive results for the organization. 

Clearly-defined goals are essential for not only lead generation, but business success at large. That’s why successful companies identify objectives and determine their ideal lead, MQL, SQL, and customer totals each sales cycle. This practice allows businesses to maintain accurate records and ensure targets are consistently being met. Getting not only marketing and sales teams but entire companies on the same page helps companies continue to grow.



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Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency and lead generation agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.