If you’re doing online marketing right, you should be driving a steady stream of inexpensive, qualified leads to your sales team.
That means tons of sales and profit for your business, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Often, you may be sending all the right leads to your sales team, but they simply aren’t turning into sales.
What’s going on?
Is it a problem with your sales team? A problem with your leads? Maybe, but often, the problem is simply a marketing-sales mismatch.
When Things Go Wrong
A few months back, we were using paid search to drive leads for a client. We thought we were doing a pretty good job, but there was a problem—our leads weren’t turning into sales.
To be honest, this came as a surprise.
We had a lot of experience in this particular industry, so we knew our campaigns were driving a lot of high-quality leads.
In fact, from a marketing perspective, our campaigns were a hands-down success! We were sending hundreds of high-intent leads to their sales team at a great cost-per-lead.
What more could you ask for, right?
In our experience, they should have been closing at least 10% of these leads…but they weren’t. As it turned out, they were only closing 1% of their paid search leads.
What were we doing wrong?
On paper, everything looked great, so I called the client to get his thoughts. His answer was both candid and insightful:
“Jake, the leads are great. We don’t have a lead problem. My sales team just doesn’t know how to close these leads.”
Now, this problem isn’t unique. I’ve seen it before. Great online marketing can get leads in the door, but it can’t make them close.
That job rests on the shoulders of the sales team.
So, if you want your online marketing to yield great results, your job doesn’t end with lead generation. You need to make sure your sales team knows how to get those leads to close.
Turning Leads Into Sales
With online marketing, you control all aspects of the lead generation process: targeting, ads, landing page content and call-to-action.
The problem is, while you may intimately understand your leads, your sales team might not really know where your leads came from, why they reached out and what they are looking for in a business.
And, unfortunately, if your sales team doesn’t really understand their leads, they are going to have a hard time closing them.
In order to successfully close online marketing leads, your sales team needs to understand a couple of key things about their leads:
You’re Not the Only Business After Their Business
When it comes to online marketing, you can’t expect leads to sit still.
If someone is interested enough in what your business has to offer to reach out, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ve reached out to your competition, too.
However, first to call is first to close.
New leads are also 100x more responsive if your sales team reaches out in 5 minutes instead of 30 minutes and several thousand times more responsive if you’re reaching out within 5 minutes vs a day or two later.
Fortunately, most of your competitors wait hours or even days to respond to new leads, so if your sales team is quick on the draw, they have a good chance of being the first to respond, make contact and close the deal.
The Internet is a Distracting Place
When it comes to online leads, you can assume that by the time you reach out, they’ve already moved on to something else.
Maybe it’s a competitor’s site. Maybe it’s social media. Maybe it’s back to whatever they were doing before your ads caught their attention.
Whatever the reason, they usually aren’t sitting around waiting for your call.
That means your leads are probably distracted and might miss (or ignore) your first few contact attempts. So, if you want to get a hold of your leads, your sales team can’t just send one email and call it quits.
In fact, it takes a minimum of 8-12 contact attempts to get a 90% contact rate. Even if you’re only after a 50% contact rate, your sales team will still need to make at least 6 contact attempts.
The only problem is, most reps only make 1-2 contact attempts per lead. As a result, internet leads are only contacted about a quarter of the time.
You fight tooth and nail to get those great leads in the door and sales only contacts 25% of them?
Imagine what would happen if your sales team started reaching out 8-12 times and achieved a contact rate of 90%. That would increase your contact rate by 360%.
If your sales team’s contact-to-close rate stayed the same, contacting 3.6x more leads would result in 3.6x more sales. Can you imagine how that would affect your business?
Getting Marketing and Sales in Alignment
In addition to giving your sales team insights into what tactics work best for online marketing leads, there are a couple of things you can do on the marketing side to improve sales performance.
Talk to Sales!
Online marketing leads convert because they believe that your company has the solution to their problems. Your sales team’s job is to confirm that belief.
However, if your sales team isn’t making good on the promises of your marketing, your customers will feel betrayed and they won’t want to buy.
To avoid this, your sales team’s message needs to match your marketing message.
Yes, that means you’ll have to talk to your sales team about the intent, pain points and goals of your leads, but guess what? The better your sales team understands where their leads are coming from, the more effective they will be at closing sales.
In my experience, getting marketing and sales on the same page will make your online marketing effects far more effective and can drive millions in added revenue for your business.
There is Such a Thing as Too Many Leads
If you’ve got your campaigns set up right, online marketing (especially pay-per-click marketing) is pretty simple.
Insert the money, out come the leads.
Now, you and I both know that there’s a ton of work behind that equation, but if you’re feeding too many coins into the marketing machine, the resulting surplus of leads can make your sales team a little lazy.
As a result, ambitious sales reps might be tempted to sift through your leads to pick the ones that will be easiest to close.
They’ll look like superstar salesmen, but on closer inspection, you’ll notice that their lead-to-close rate is actually terrible.
Even though these “rockstar” reps look like they are closing a lot of deals, they waste a ton of expensive leads. In many cases, companies will end up paying more for those wasted leads than they’ll earn off of that “all star” rep’s closed sales.
So, how can you avoid this?
Easy, just keep your sales team hungry.
If you’re putting less money into the marketing machine, your sales reps will pay more attention to the individual leads they’re getting.
However, you want to be careful with this tactic. Give your sales team too few leads and you’ll hurt productivity and morale.
So, if your sales team is begging for more leads, up your marketing budget. On the other hand, if you’re not getting any requests for more leads and your close-to-sale rate isn’t doing so hot…you might want to dial back your marketing spend.
It’s hard to make a profit off of online marketing if your sales team doesn’t know how to close your hard-won leads.
But, if you’re willing to work with your sales team, your marketing campaigns will not only produce profitable leads—they’ll produce profitable sales.
And isn’t that what online marketing is all about?
You’ve heard my two cents, now it’s your turn.
In your experience, how have sales short-changed your online marketing efforts (or vice versa)? How have you helped your sales team work more effectively with paid search leads?
About the Author: Jacob Baadsgaard is the CEO and fearless leader of Disruptive Advertising, an online marketing agency dedicated to using PPC advertising and website optimization to drive sales. His face is as big as his heart and he loves to help businesses achieve their online potential. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.