Some inside sales teams lack the coverage needed to properly engage with and convert marketing qualified leads (MQLs) into sales qualified leads (SQLs). They also may not have the correct sales tools or standardized processes to ensure clean pipeline data and the seamless hand-off between inside sales and account executives (AEs). We have helped many global organizations streamline and build processes, uncover hidden opportunities, and master the handoff to drive revenue. In this blog, we will discuss nine tips for businesses to increase their lead-to-opportunity conversion.
1. Scrub Your MQL List
To help your inside sales team focus on the highest-quality opportunities, devise a method to score and rank your MQLs so you can prioritize resources.
This ranking system can be based on:
- Product levels
- Type of campaigns (e.g., free trial, incentive, new product promotion, etc.)
- Timeliness of the outreach
Use a CRM system that supports lead scoring to pass the most qualified leads to SDRs at the optimal time to achieve the highest response and engagement rates. You may de-prioritize MQL follow-up or enter leads that don’t meet your specific criteria into a marketing nurture program. Having a ranking system in place will provide the context to help your inside sales team make an informed decision around which leads they spend time prospecting and qualifying.
2. Determine Your Sales Engagement Model
After prioritizing your MQL list, determine the best way to engage with them. Perform account research with tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Quora, or ZoomInfo to gain insights into your prospects.
These insights will help determine how to engage:
- A company’s size
- The organizational structure
- The right decision-makers to contact in each department
Determine what SQL means to your organization to ensure that opportunities are handed off from inside sales to an AE or Sales Development Rep (SDR) at the right moment. Your SQL can often be determined by defining an account’s Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline (BANT).
Identify the information you need to know about each account and then define the criteria for qualifying prospects. If you’re selling a more technical solution, it may require your inside sales team to spend more time building a relationship with the prospect. This will require more conversations, sending case studies and/or sales collateral, etc., to properly “warm-up” the prospect before being passed to an AE to close the deal.
3. Determine Your Sales Cadence Model
Once you determine your engagement model, you need to determine your sales cadence. Determining the right timing and types of outreach activities will vary based on the account and the role of the decision-maker within the company.
Having a systematic follow-up structure will help you determine when to engage with calls, follow-up emails, and supporting marketing/sales content, which will help minimize lapses in engagement. Determining a sales cadence model will also help you evolve from a reactive approach to proactively guiding prospects through the sales process.
The last thing you want is for the left hand not to be talking to the right hand. Using a CRM platform will help track every interaction to ensure multiple sales reps are not reaching out to the same prospect at the same time. It will also help to leverage customer information to validate your outreach frequency. Using automated emails and templates will help your team be more efficient with following up and facilitating your sales cycle at scale.
4. Pursue the Sales Process
To advance prospects along the sales process, you must determine what information you need about a target account. Practicing good data hygiene will be key to a successful and efficient data gathering and prospect handoff process.
Identifying a champion within each target account will help you connect with key stakeholders within the organization. Once you are connected, make sure you’re systematically reaching out to all decision-makers in the right sequence and at the right cadence. Set up an appointment with the next decision-maker at the end of each conversation to keep the ball moving.
5. Define a Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Proactive engagement is key to capitalizing on every opportunity. If a prospect fills out a web form, but it sits stagnant for two weeks before an AE or SDR picks it up, you will lose the opportunity to your competitors.
To prevent missed opportunities from happening, define the SLA as soon as an MQL turns into an SQL, when an SDR first responds to a ‘contact us’ form or a cold lead, and when an AE needs to get involved with an account.
6. Determine How Your Sales Team Engages with a Lead
Many organizations overlook the importance of planning what sales reps should say to prospects and how they say it. Those who understand the value of this process often struggle with how they can ensure that reps are covering all the bases and delivering a consistent experience.
It’s easy to create a sales script. It’s hard to create an effective one. Scripted sales calls rarely generate a natural-sounding conversation that is flexible enough to speak to a customer’s unique pain points.
To foster naturally flowing sales conversations, provide reps with an outline to build rapport first, then discover the prospect’s needs. Once a need is identified, map out the next step, like determining whether the rep should cover the solution on the same call or schedule a follow-up meeting.
7. Show, Don’t Tell
Empty words easily turn prospects off. Make sure sales reps are delivering value on every call. Don’t just tell your prospect how great your products or services are – show them.
Arming your sales team with:
- High-quality white papers that are informative and educational
- Case studies that demonstrate specific uses for your product/service
- Compelling success stories that demonstrate how your solutions deliver results
Cross-reference a lead’s role and industry to tailor the most relevant and compelling information. Leverage your sales tools to track open and reply rates. This will enable inside sales reps to deliver more personalized information at the right cadence.
8. Set SMART Goals
Don’t underestimate the value of setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. Many sales teams overlook the importance of the specificity and time-bound nature of their objectives.
Some examples of SMART goals you can set for your sales reps:
- Reducing the cost of customer acquisition (CAC) by reducing non-essential business travel by X% in the next 12 months.
- Boosting lead quality by identifying and contacting 7 prospects a week who spend $500K a year on software services.
Our team uses weekly, quarterly, and yearly SMART goals to perform and validate experiments, achieve incremental growth, and be flexible with our tactics to achieve long-term strategies.
9. Consistently Evaluate and Evolve
As we learned in 2020, things can change quickly, and processes can become stale overnight. By regularly evaluating your processes, you can ensure your engagement remains ideal for current MQLs and that your cadence model is still working based on the sales process. Additionally, regularly assessing training programs for new products and current products and services sales collateral ensures that everything continues to speak to your offering.
Supercharge Your Sales Engine with Inside Sales
The right inside sales strategies can help you transform opportunities into revenue by combining best-in-class data-driven insights, high-performance sales methodologies, state-of-the-art technologies, and experienced sales professionals to optimize your lead qualification process.
ServiceSource eliminates the guesswork by finding the trends, strengths, and opportunities in your sales initiatives to help you drive long-term ROI for your business. Get in touch to learn more about how outsourcing inside sales helps your organization with lead qualifying or lead conversion.