The Gray Zone: The Place Where Your “Somewhat Qualified” Sales Leads Go to Die

Devon-McDonald by

The scenario: Your fabulous lead qualifier has generated a new appointment for one of your field reps.  The first conversation went well: the prospect is the decision maker, understands your value proposition, has identified some sort of pain on their part, and are open to the next step: a scheduled call with someone more senior to learn more.

A couple days later, the call takes place between the prospect and the field rep. It’s determined that while they find your solution really compelling, they are not going to be in a buying position until the end of the year, as they don’t have the budget at the moment.

Reflection time: What happens from here? Is your field rep going to adequately nurture this prospect for the next few months so that come the fall, your offering is the go-to solution?

Let’s think about it.
Field reps have quotas to hit – the good ones are indeed thinking about their future pipeline – but what’s closing now (this week, this month, this quarter) is always top of mind.  Now imagine that your lead qualification team  is passing over dozens of appointments a week… that’s FAR too many prospects for your sales organization to juggle without having some sort of relationship marketing touch point process established.

Welcome to the gray zone: The place where quality sales leads (that don’t show promise of closing ASAP) go to die.

First things first, in this scenario described above, who do you want making the touch points following the appointment — the field rep or the lead qualifier? How does marketing come into play? Is your marketing department mature enough to own this automated touch points for this program?  Every business will have different answers for this, but regardless of who owns what, the touch point model needs to be defined, documented and embraced by all.

I’m not going to provide all the answers as to how you can set up a relationship marketing program for the “gray zone” leads (not yet at least! it’s coming very soon!)… What I will do is outline the components that you need to think about in order to building into your program. Consider this some mind candy for building a rhythm that works for your business and your prospect’s needs specifically.

1. Delivery Mechanism

  • Human touch point (i.e. a phone call)
  • Social Media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+)
  • Automated Email marketing tool
  • Direct mail

2. Content Type

  • Newsletter
  • Sharing a single new article relevant to their business and your solution from an industry thought leader
  • Sharing a single new valuable piece of content created by your business
    •  video, blog, eBook, white paper, infographic, press release, podcast, assessment, report, etc
  • Webinar/event invitation
  • Congratulations for a recent compelling event personal/business

3. Frequency

  • Once a week?
  • Twice a month?
  • Once a month?
  • Once a quarter?

In last week’s blog post, I recommended lead status, and reasons for certain status (nurture and disqualified). Now imagine if you had a program designed for EACH of those nurture types that was specific to their current situation. Now THAT would be a beautiful thing.

Stay tuned… next quarter OpenView Labs plans to really start digging into the concept of relationship marketing, and start building some h0w-to content for our portfolio, and the expansion stage technology community.