Ben Crosby

Lead-to-close marketing represents the end-to-end journey from generation to a closed deal. It’s an essential part of the sales cycle, but too often businesses suffer from a dwindling sales pipeline or low conversions. 

So, what’s the solution?

Whether you’re building out your sales funnel, fumbling at the finish line or you just want to brush up on lead marketing, here’s everything you need to know about attracting, converting and closing leads.

It All Starts With Inbound Marketing

How many people can honestly say they pick up the phone when a telemarketer calls or respond to random sales messages on LinkedIn? This outbound marketing strategy isn’t always the best way to engage your audience. Rather than cause disruptions with cold calls, inbound marketing offers a more natural way for sales teams to attract attention.

By developing and delivering valuable content to your audience, you can help address their concerns, answer their questions and create a more personalized experience. We’ve gone over inbound marketing tools that can aid this process in another blog, but how exactly does this approach work to attract a prospect?

Get Your Audience’s Attention With Ads

One of the best ways to put your brand in front of the right people is through digital advertising. While this method can be used in an outbound approach that might impose on your audience, it isn’t as abrasive as a cold call or email. There are also a wide variety of ads you can use, from display banners on third-party websites to paid search engine marketing. Your ad strategy will ultimately depend on who and where your audience is.

Keep All Eyes On You With Content Marketing

Once you’ve captured the attention of your target audience, it’s time to keep it with content marketing. Using assets like blogs, eBooks and white papers, you can start to establish authority and trust with your readers while gently nudging them further down the sales funnel. 

As a prospect interacts with your brand and finds solutions to their problems, the goal is to inch them closer toward clicking on the call to action and filling out a contact form. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s important to discuss how to generate leads in a little more depth.

The Secret to Lead Generation

In inbound marketing methodology, lead generation takes place after you’ve already attracted your target audience. For instance, if a site visitor clicks on your paid search result and shows interest in your content, the next step is to convert them to a qualified lead. Usually, this involves offering gated content in the following stage of the sales pipeline to collect the visitor’s information. These online materials are generally part of a much broader digital marketing campaign.

Leverage Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is an umbrella term for all kinds of online marketing efforts. This includes everything from ads, emails and content to social media posts and product demos. All of these elements come together to not only attract organic traffic, but convert those visitors to leads. As such, digital marketing is an essential component of any successful sales pipeline, enabling a boost in sales qualified lead conversion, while providing value and insight to readers.

What Counts as a Sales Qualified Lead?

While a lead, by definition, demonstrates interest in your company’s product or service, they’re not all created equally. And before you can qualify them, you have to categorize them. 

One common way marketers and salespeople talk about leads is on a cold to hot scale. While a cold lead is unfamiliar with your business, a warm lead has done some research on your company, and they’re open to talking about how you can meet their needs. In contrast, hot leads show high levels of interest and they’re ready to make a decision. Once a lead reaches this stage of the life cycle, it’s imperative that you contact them right away, otherwise they could go cold quickly.

A sales qualified lead (SQL) is someone who’s already expressed interest in becoming a customer, which means they’re already interacting and communicating with your brand. In terms of temperature, SQLs range from very warm to piping hot — but that still doesn’t mean the sales rep has a guaranteed win.

Follow Up With Lead Nurturing

Before a lead feels comfortable purchasing a product or service, they require a certain level of care, engagement and communication. This is what’s known as “lead nurturing,” an important aspect of inbound marketing. 

By using digital marketing content to provide personalized information to leads, you can highlight the value of your products or services. In addition, the sales team can further nurture this relationship and build trust by answering questions with unbiased information and providing sales demonstrations. 

With a combination of curated content, strong outreach and a personalized sales funnel, the only thing left to do is to close the deal.

How to Close Leads

This is it — the moment you’ve been waiting for since your lead was just an infant prospect. But closing a sale is a delicate process. Even a scalding hot sales lead is usually weighing several options that may include some of your top competitors. It’s not always a good idea to go in for the pitch right away, as it could turn them off of working with you. Before you know it, they could go cold or get snatched up by the funnel of a competitor.

Of course, every sales rep has a closing strategy that works for them, but we’ve come up with a few tips that might help you improve your close rate:

1. Prioritize Lead Response Time

One of the most important aspects of closing a lead is how quickly you respond to queries. Around half of all customers say they’re less likely to purchase from a business that takes longer than expected to reply. But that doesn’t mean sending a message by the end of the week. The sooner you can respond, the better chance you have to be the first one to talk to a lead.

2. Create a Sense of Urgency

When speaking with leads, especially those who are in the cold to warm range, it’s important to instill a sense of urgency. By generating an emotional response to the individual’s business problems, you can position your company as the quick and easy solution. However, this can be difficult territory, as you don’t want a lead to feel manipulated. Instead, be honest and transparent about how you can work to resolve their current issues.

3. Remember to Listen

To position your business as the solution, you first need to fully understand the lead’s problems. Start by asking questions, but allow them to do most of the talking. By listening intently, you can identify precise ways in which your solution can improve not just the lead’s business, but also their work life. This goes back to the emotional response. Stay in tune with this and establish trust early on.

4. Address Questions and Concerns

No matter what stage of the funnel your lead is in, they’re likely going to have hesitations about your product or service. It’s critical to be aware of any reservations and tackle all of their questions and concerns as they come up. You can even introduce them to other members of the teams they would be working with to help ease any worries and/or respond to potential objections.

5. Offer a Demo

If a lead seems red hot but they’re still unsure about working with your business, try letting your product speak for itself. With a free trial of your solution, leads are able to experience all it has to offer first-hand. Of course, you can’t just wait for them to buy it afterwards. You’ll want to follow up to see how they liked it and gather feedback.

From prospect to sale, there’s a lot that goes into the lead-to-close process. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the marketing activity and outreach involved, don’t worry. Creating a strong lead pipeline doesn’t have to be complicated, it just takes an effective marketing strategy.