We saw in the last post that sales process that are stuck in the past hinder organizations from reaching buyers, but we didn’t go into one of the real downsides of old-school sales processes: they stick buyers in situations that are impossible to get out of.
James Bond also ends up in these situations a lot, but then again, he’s a little better trained (and perhaps in better shape) than most software buyers. Plus, it’s his job to get out of sticky situations.
Software marketing teams realized long time ago that leads needs to have a structured process to manage the sales process. So they introduced sales automation.
They also need a system to manage the leads who are interested in a software product, but who don’t quite yet meet the qualification requirements put forth by the sales team. So that resulted in marketing automation.
But there is a gap between marketing automation and sales automation, that we at Avangate call the “Lead Purgatory”. What is it?
Even though the prospects are in the right target profile, they qualify on all dimensions except for the budget – which are smaller OR some are smaller customers but are interesting in trying out an enterprise-class solution.
Here, large groups of leads that are interested in the product but not yet ready for the traditional direct sales process can linger indefinitely. The more successful a company’s marketing efforts are, the more marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are delivered to the direct sales team. But the closer sales reps stick to their call scripts, the more they shove these MQLs back into nurturing and into Lead Purgatory–that dreaded gap between marketing and sales.
Having already consumed all the marketing content available to them and reached the end of their free trial period (if one is available), these prospects now get nothing from the software company but sales calls for which they are a poor fit.
Ultimately, leads are falling into purgatory not because they’re uninterested or because the marketing messages didn’t work, but because the sales process is pushing them down a path they’re not prepared to take. Then those people, who are interested buyers, are typically just left to bide their time – or dodge sales calls – until they change to meet the companies needs. That’s NOT how it should work!
This not only risks losing prospective customers to the competition, it also wastes marketing dollars and sales team effort. By bringing the marketing and sales processes closer together, companies not only serve customers better, but also make better use of their staff.
How can companies go about closing the gap and saving customers from lead purgatory?
Adopt a business-to-individual (B2i) approach. We talked a little bit about that last time. Taking a B2i approach will tailor the customer acquisition process to turn anyone from a lead into a customer – without ever talking to the sales team. In order for that to happen, companies need online self-service, which we’ll cover next week!
Just as James Bond has a Q who supplies him all the tools and gadgets, commerce is the “Q” that bridges sales automation and marketing automation. So you don’t have to be shaken, just stirred.