The marketing and sales process
The illustration to the right provides an overview of a marketing and sales process, or funnel. The journey begins when someone becomes aware of your company, product, or service. After viewing your information, that person becomes a contact when you obtain that person’s contact information. After requesting something from you, the contact becomes a lead, but the value of the lead varies. If someone requests to talk with a salesperson, the lead is "hot," but a person who completes a form only to view your content is usually considered “warm.” Other groups would merely label this person a contact for whom a profile is being built.
The complexity of a marketing and sales process will vary depending on the product or service that your organization provides. For example, within the Opportunity segment of the funnel, your company may include a demonstration, an application’s proof of principle, or documentation so your client can prepare a budget. For other businesses, the funnel might include a segment for a bid-defense meeting, a common practice when selling clinical trial services.
The key point is that whatever your business, you’ll have to deal with different stages of leads.
Human resources for lead generation
So what do we mean by lead generation? Lead generation is the process of generating sales leads through a variety of methods like content marketing, conferences and events, advertising, and telephone calls. Although the rest of this article focuses on the use of human resources, it is critical to remember that lead generation works best when you employ multiple methods in an integrated fashion.
Human resources for lead generation may be internal or external and many terms are utilized to describe these resources. Some of the terms may imply non-telephone resources too. For instance, marketing automation companies talk a lot about lead nurturing as a process that involves many different activities. One of the best definitions of lead nurturing may come from Marketo's "Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing". They call it “the process of building relationships with qualified prospects regardless of their timing to buy, with the goal of earning their business when they are ready”.
According to Brian Carroll, CEO of InTouch and author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, “up to 95 percent of qualified prospects on your Web site are there to research and are not yet ready to talk with a sales rep, but as many as 70 percent of them will eventually buy a product from you—or your competitors.”
Regardless of the definition, experts agree that consistent and speedy lead follow-up is a critical part of the sales process. Here are some definitions that many companies in our space utilize.
- Telemarketing: Telemarketing is campaign-specific phone calls designed to create new target contacts and potentially find leads. Telemarketing is also used for profiling clients for future activities, improving webinar or seminar attendance, gathering market intelligence, and measuring customer satisfaction.
- Lead Qualification: When I worked as a lead qualifier, I was trained to apply the acronym MADT, which stands for Money, Application, Decision maker, and Time frame. When contacts satisfied all these criteria, I’d pass these names along to the sales leaders. If not, I’d continue to "nurture" them until they were ready. Lead qualifiers help ensure that salespeople only receive the most opportunistic leads. The terms sales development, lead generation, and lead development are synonyms for lead qualification.
- Lead Nurturing: As discussed earlier, lead nurturing builds relationships with qualified prospects regardless of their timing to buy, with the goal of earning their business when they’re ready to purchase.
- Inside Sales: For some companies, telesales and inside sales describe the same groups—both are field salespeople that primarily work in an office. For other organizations, inside sales has a client services role and frequently involves taking incoming calls directly from customers.
- Field Sales: This role varies widely within and between organizations. To some, field sales means prospecting; for others, field sales focuses on relationship building and lead nurturing, and still other organizations emphasize project management. Some lucky field salespeople have all these responsibilities.
Will Volny, President of Compass Life Science Leads since 2005 has 30 years of experience working for companies that sell and market to scientists in R&D and manufacturing at pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device and diagnostic companies, as well as life science researchers working for government agencies, academia, and non-profits. Prior to founding Compass, he headed up the lead development team at GE Healthcare Biosciences. In previous years, Will was heavily involved in technical support roles, managing technical support groups, training and knowledge databases. His technical area of focus was in molecular biology and assays and instrumentation used by the pharmaceutical industry. He obtained his Masters degree in Biology at the Illinois Institute of Technology.