There’s a moment in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross when the hot salesman sent from headquarters confronts the lackluster sales team and admonishes them to close their leads – or get fired. But one salesperson, played by Jack Lemmon, doesn’t benefit: “The leads are weak,” he explains.
So what makes a strong or good lead?
Sales teams rely on marketing to deliver leads who are qualified and ready to close. As we marketers develop our lead funnel, our goal is to move thousands of prospects through the funnel, from initial discovery and awareness, to brand and sales messages, education and deliberation, to closing – or so we hope.
We allocate our annual marketing budget based on one metric: the ROI of our marketing spend as measured by the sales pipeline and revenue. There’s a lot of wear and tear along the sales funnel – thousands of prospects drop out for some reason. However, the goal is to maximize the prospects for Marketing Qualified Leads (MMS): Leads who are sufficiently interested in our product or service to be passed on to sales.
At this point, the sales team qualifies the leads as “good” or “weak” – a process that turns MMS into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) ready for the next phase of the sales journey.
Nobody wants to hear that “the leads are weak,” so we must continually strive to maximize lead quality across all marketing channels.
An important part of lead qualification is the engagement of interested parties.
Does a lack of in-person events mean fewer marketing skilled leads, less engaged prospects, and fewer profits?
Last year, marketing event teams planning corporate conferences or trade shows, field marketing teams managing local events, and demand teams running webinars or social media campaigns have had a particular challenge to have strong leads to achieve.
Let’s focus on events because they are particularly affected by social distancing.
After the event teams were forced to abandon plans for live in-person events, conferences, and trade shows, they have instead reinvested in virtual events and webinars. These are great ways to bring large groups of people together. However, the virtual environment lacks an important sales tool that is typically vital for face-to-face events: face-to-face meetings with prospects and customers.
Prospect meetings are an indispensable tool for the growth of the B2B sales pipeline, which is the leading indicator of revenue. A sales process for companies includes the relocation of potential customers from the awareness-raising phase to the education, observation and decision-making phase. In B2B sales situations, the last three phases produce better results when the focus is shifted to one-on-one meetings, product demos, expert meetings, board meetings, partner meetings, etc.
Today, marketing and sales teams focus on virtual meetings because these crucial face-to-face meetings are not possible. If marketers can do this on a large scale, sales can get something even more valuable than a Marketing Qualified Lead: a Marketing Qualified Meeting (MQM).
Marketing teams in successful companies generate hundreds or even thousands of MQMs. These teams have come to the conclusion that it is no longer enough to just deliver one MMS. MMS is still important, but you can’t afford to stop the process of generating MMS from raw data.
Classic virtual events can be top MQM drivers
Consider the following illustration of the different types of B2B customer meetings that we can now hold virtually:
If potential meetings with experts and our executives are more valuable than raw leads, we need to generate more of them.
In the past few years when customers wanted to see a demo, they would attend an event, roadshow, or breakout session. However, these activities will be virtual for the foreseeable future. A customer can still request a “Meet the Expert” briefing or VIP meeting before committing to a multi-million dollar purchase – this is only done virtually.
The same applies to round tables with partners, dealers and customers as well as to situations in which several people come together to solve problems and discuss solutions.
Webinars and other virtual events are one of the most powerful tools today to expedite the buyer’s journey. Meetings with experts and partners are always important in convincing customers to switch to a new technology or solution.
Focus on MQMs to increase pipeline and sales
If you want to grow your sales, you need to expand your pipeline first. The higher the sales target, the more pipeline you need because the pipeline is the leading indicator of sales (which is itself a trailing indicator of marketing success).
The safest way to predict and build a pipeline is to focus on maximizing scheduled B2B customer meetings and other interactions.
In short: MQMs control the pipeline, which then increases sales.
A successful MQM program generates a large number of meeting requests that need to be carefully managed and tracked for effectiveness and tracking. Setting up a meeting with a prospect or client, if handled manually, can require a dozen emails and calls. Companies that are serious about booking MQMs on a large scale should therefore use a Meeting Automation Platform (MAP).
Adding a MAP to your marketing tech stack can greatly expand your MQM capabilities as it automates three time-consuming tasks:
- Planning before the meeting: Orchestrate the meeting setup for attendees and make sure everyone has the information they need to make the meeting successful
- Workflow management: Providing the ability for the meeting managers or marketing team to monitor all meeting requests and confirmations, ensure that relevant sales information is captured, and manage meeting logistics
- Analysis after the meeting: Meet and manipulate sales metrics dashboards and manage surveys to understand performance and buyer intent
Think about how you can add MQMs to your multichannel digital marketing programs both globally and regionally. As you book more virtual customer meetings, you shorten your sales cycle and get more profits from your sales pipeline.
More resources on Marketing Qualified Leads
Six steps to new sales through strategic lead generation
How to generate leads in a competitive digital landscape
Maximizing Marketing ROI For Lead Generation (Part 1): Lead Quality Matters