by David Kirkpatrick
, Senior Reporter
In the complex sale, effective lead scoring and lead nurturing is often a function of not just marketing strategy, but technology as well. Those processes are too complex to maintain manually, and if the various pieces of technology in place can't communicate with each other, it's extremely difficult to create an end-to-end — fresh lead to closed deal — customer experience with a seamless transition from Marketing to Sales.
Managed Maintenance, Inc. (MMI), a provider of professional management services for technology assets for mid- and large-sized companies, faced that very problem. The company utilized both marketing automation software in Marketing and CRM software in Sales, but the two solutions were siloed and not sharing data.
Trish McLoughlin, Marketing Manager, MMI, said, "We had all our Marketing stuff on one side, [and] our Sales stuff on the other side. None of it was talking to each other. None of it was automated. The tools that we were using didn't sync with each other."
Solving that issue led to not only greater Marketing/Sales alignment, but also created marketing opportunities. Find out how overhauling technology at MMI opened the door for effective lead scoring and lead nurturing programs, and details on how the team implemented these key elements in MMI's complex sale funnel.
Every company implements technology differently. In MMI's case, once someone is recognized as a lead, that name and data goes straight into the CRM software and to Sales. If the sales reps don't think they can close the deal, the lead goes back to Marketing for lead nurturing.
Step #1. Audit current technology implementation
For Managed Maintenance, the problem was a marketing automation (MA) solution that was too strong for the company's needs, coupled with a CRM that wasn't robust enough to communicate with the MA software.
"Those two didn't integrate together, so we were doing things in a silo," McLoughlin said. "There was no automation and there was no lead scoring and tracking. There was no visibility into how people were being identified as leads or opportunities."
The solution was to replace both technology pieces at the same time, ensuring the new software solutions worked in concert and actually were able to perform the role they were designed to perform.
Step #2. Leverage technology to improve Marketing/Sales alignment
McLoughlin said the old technology hindered marketing efforts. Because the CRM and automation software weren't synched, the team would have to manually go into the CRM, grab the leads and opportunities there and import those names into the marketing automation solution.
With the new technology in place, data flowed between the CRM and marketing automation software. A major benefit was in Marketing's ability to help Sales.
"Sales can go into the CRM, and they don't have to jump into another system," McLoughlin said. "They can look up the contact, and then have all the information they could possibly need on that contact. Every email they've [the contact] ever received, how many times they opened it, if they've clicked through, if they've filled out a form for a webinar."
She added, "It creates accountability in the organization."
Step #3. Create a lead scoring process
Greater transparency and data visibility was a benefit for Sales. The improved technology also benefited Marketing by allowing for a revamped lead generation and lead scoring program
For lead scoring, MMI uses both explicit and implicit criteria.
Explicit data points include:
- Company size
- Role level of lead
Implicit actions include:
- Email opens and clicks
- Blog and website visits
- Forms filled out
- Event registrations
All the criteria are assigned a point value. When an individual reaches 40 points, a lead or opportunity is created in the CRM software. If the person is unknown, a lead is created. If their contact information is already in the CRM, that person becomes an "opportunity" in the system.
McLoughlin provided examples of MMI's scoring values
- A CEO might get 10 points for his or her title
- Company size of $200 milllion or higher is worth five points
- Company size of only 10 employees is negative 10 points
- Visiting a random webpage on the site only yielded 1 point, while a previous webinar playback or demo was worth 15 points
She also said the lead scoring program underwent regular "tweaking and refining" with Marketing and Sales working together as a management team to review what was important to both company divisions and define what fields, specific pages on the website and actions were valuable in qualifying leads.
MMI's first set of criteria was too stringent, according to McLoughlin, so much so that no one was reaching the threshold to qualify as a lead. The first tweak after that made gaining points much too easy, and McLoughlin said essentially everyone was then qualifying and the marketing team was "completely overwhelmed."
The lead scoring review sessions are a quarterly event at MMI, which fits into the company's sales cycle of about six to eight months. The team wants to make sure scoring is working, but at the same time not over think the program and make too many changes.
Step #4. Take advantage of opportunities to build the contact list
McLoughlin described list building at MMI as "a lot of grassroots list acquisition," and provided one example of the team being able to turn a problem into an opportunity.
The company partnered with an industry publication on an event. MMI was to capture contact information on everyone who attended the event. For some reason, there was a mix-up and those contacts were not collected as the partnership agreement stipulated.
To make things right, the magazine ended up providing MMI with a list of 500 top resellers.
Other methods of list building were more hands on and manual. The team found published information on IBM business partners, for example, and an MMI employee used online resources to find the C-level contacts for those companies.
McLoughlin said, "A lot of the time list acquisition for us is a very arduous, painful process, but worth it in the long run."
Step #5. Nurture leads that Sales doesn't close
As outlined in the introduction for this case study, MMI has a different process than many companies. More typically in the complex sale, leads are generated and then nurtured by Marketing before becoming Sales-qualified and then handed off from marketing automation to the CRM software.
At MMI, once a person hits the 40-point scoring threshold, they immediately go into the CRM and to Sales.
At that point, Sales has 60 days to turn the prospect into "sales stage two." If the sales rep isn't successful, that lead is brought into the marketing automation software for lead nurturing.
The messaging for lead nurturing was not heavy on selling, according to McLoughlin.
The goal was to provide content marketing with an emphasis on thought leadership.
Every person that reached the lead scoring threshold was immediately sent an email from the CEO with messaging saying, "We see you have an interest in MMI."
From there, the 60-day timer with Sales began.
If that lead didn't convert, they went into the lead nurturing program with weekly email touches of content such as white papers
, articles and tools such as online calculators.
The exception to the lead nurturing contact is if that person is being marketed to from a different program that week, such as an invitation to a webinar, they don't receive the nurturing email that week.
Step #6. Review a specific marketing effort to determine if the process works
This effort was an engagement with an outbound sales company and it ran for seven weeks.
Over that time frame, about 1,800 contacts received 17 emails, with the email effort resulting in 2,275 opens, an open rate of 9.32%. The email campaign also drove 74 clickthroughs.
From there, a smaller subset of 500 from the initial 1,800 contacts were part of an outbound calling program of 100 hours of telephone calls.
The email and outbound calling program led to 13 qualified sales appointments, four no-shows, one non-qualified and ended up putting seven opportunities into the sales pipeline.
McLoughlin said the appointments came from people identified through the lead scoring program.
She said, "For us, it showed that it was working. It wasn't just fluff that these people were being inserted into our system. They were actually qualified prospects."
After completely revamping marketing automation and CRM technology, lead generation was up 75% over the previous year, and 30% of new business in 2012 was run through the marketing automation software.
Not only have key metrics improved, McLoughlin said the new technology pieces only account for 18% of the marketing budget, making that a very manageable figure.
"I think that it's important that you continuously evaluate what you have set up and look at the things that you could do better," she explained.
McLoughlin continued, "I think for us, year over year, that's what we keep doing and that's why we keep getting better and keep getting smarter about our business. If you look back three years ago, we were doing all of this work and we weren't seeing any results, but we didn't really have the system set up to really be able to measure our success. So, I think for us it's really been looking at and revising processes and procedures, and just being smarter about how we operate."
- Lead scoring graphic
- Lead scoring values
- Lead nurturing email
SourcesManaged Maintenance, Inc.SalesFUSION
— MMI's marketing automation vendorMicrosoft Dynamics
— MMI's CRM software vendor
Related Resources The Complex Sale: Lead scoring effort increases conversion 79%New Chart: Top factors used in lead score calculationsLead Nurturing: 12 questions answered on content, tactics and strategyLead Scoring: CMOs realize a 138% lead gen ROI … and so can youIntro to Lead Generation: How to determine if a lead is qualified