Follow the Three V’s of Managing Your Engagement Opportunities

In this era of marketing accountability, industrial marketers need an effective framework to manage and measure their engagement opportunities. You can’t measure everything—and you don’t want to measure everything. You want to focus on specific measurements providing valuable insight, which in turn can help you make decisions to improve the performance of your marketing program.

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According to Forrester Research, the hallmark of top marketing performers is their ability to generate marketing leads at the right velocity, volume, and value. These three metrics are key indicators of funnel health—and a healthy funnel generally means healthy revenue.

  • Volume is the count of engagement opportunities or deals delivered by a marketing program.
  • Value is how much an engagement opportunity is worth in terms of dollar value.
  • Velocity is the speed at which an engagement opportunity converts to a sale.

What marketers must determine is how much weight and priority to give to each of the three V’s in order to optimize your marketing efforts and maximize your return. The answer is different for every company, based on your marketing goals, the makeup of your sales force and the nature of your customers’ buying behavior.

The dream world of every marketer is that the volume and value of engagement opportunities is high and the velocity of conversion is lightning speed. However, we all work in the real world, not the dream world. Therefore you must put these three V’s in perspective, understand how they align with your goals and use them to help make marketing decisions.

Volume, value and velocity intelligence can also help you segment engagement opportunities. For example, if a marketing program produces a high volume of opportunities, chances are many of those opportunities are not yet sales ready. They should remain with marketing in a lead nurturing program until more qualified. It might make sense to assign high-value opportunities to a salesperson for one-on-one cultivation and personal attention. Handle high-velocity opportunities in whatever manner will close the sale quickly.

Volume requires ironclad processes
Volume is historically the metric that gets the most attention, deservedly or not. What sales team doesn’t want more engagement opportunities? Some marketing programs are designed to maximize the volume of engagement opportunities. The upside of this approach is that you have more potential customers to convert and more of your target audience exposed to your message, which helps increase brand awareness.

On the other hand, the greater the volume of engagement opportunities, the more you need sound lead management processes. You must be able to separate real prospects from tire-kickers, prevent good opportunities from slipping through the cracks and avoid inundating your sales team with unqualified prospects who will never convert.

Value can trump volume
A highly targeted or specialized marketing program may not deliver a high volume of engagement opportunities. It can still be a strong program because the engagement opportunities generated should have a higher conversion rate and produce a higher amount of sales.

If your company’s objective is to close bigger deals or sell highly customized products or services, you’re likely looking at implementing a program that delivers fewer, but highly motivated prospects. You’re looking at quality over quantity.

Velocity offers intelligence
Velocity—the speed at which a prospect converts to a sale—can be considered independently or in relation to volume and value. Velocity is often directly related to your customers’ buy cycle and the nature of what you are selling. A long, complex purchasing process involving multiple decision makers and a significant investment may not have much in way of velocity. But if you’re selling parts or components that the market considers a commodity, you should expect high velocity.

No matter what you are selling, if you have a hot prospect motivated to buy, treat them as a high-velocity engagement opportunity. By tracking the velocity of deals, you can gain valuable intelligence on the length of your sales cycle and how well your marketing and sales processes are performing.

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How do you manage the 3V’s of lead management? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Four Best Practices to Optimize Your Lead Nurturing Efforts

In this digital era when technical professionals have more sources of information and a broader choice of vendors than ever before, many do not contact a supplier until they are close to making a buying decision. Other potential customers contact every possible vendor that could serve their needs. In either situation, and everything in between, you end up generating leads from technical professionals who could be anywhere in their buy cycle—from early research to late stage.

lead nurturing

Photo Credit: Taz etc. via Compfight cc

To convert more of these leads to sales, to keep your sales reps happy with qualified leads, and to improve marketing ROI on your campaigns, you need a solid lead nurturing program to help prospects move along to the next stages of their buy cycle. The word nurture means to nourish, protect, support and encourage. And that’s exactly what you need to do with your leads:

  • Nourish—provide them healthy servings of relevant, useful information
  • Protect—keep them interested so they don’t abandon you for another supplier
  • Support—stay in regular contact always ready to meet their needs
  • Encourage—give them offers to help them move forward in their buy cycle

An effective lead nurturing program will fulfill all of these goals. Here are the best practices you need to follow:

1. Segment and score leads
Sales and marketing need to work together to define different types of leads; for instance, leads that are sales-ready versus leads that belong in marketing’s nurturing program. Use any criteria that work for your organization to segment and score leads. It could be demographics, product interest, buying timeframe, purchasing authority, budget, size of potential deal, location, digital behavior (such as website visits, webinar registrations, white paper downloads)—or any combination of these attributes. You can apply weights to different lead attributes and come up with a lead score. Example: leads that score a one, two or three belong in marketing; leads scoring four or five are ready for sales.

The way that you score leads—and adjust their scores over time—is the foundation for all other best practices in lead nurturing.

2. Maintain prospect interest
If you do a good job of segmenting and scoring leads, you will gain a solid understanding of your prospects’ interests and needs. Your goal then is to feed them a steady supply of content and offers related to their needs and interests. Technical professionals are looking for information that will help them solve the problem they are facing, which is directly related to the reason they contacted you in the first place. They want to know how things work, how your product helps them complete a task, what their different options are and what are the latest technologies and newest products.

You can deliver this information in a variety of ways. New leads might be most interested in educational content such as infographics, blog posts, articles, white papers and webinars. Prospects that score a little higher would be looking for demos, product overviews and technical specs. The next level might include buying guides, ROI calculators and competitive differentiators. Get the right information to the right prospects and you will keep them engaged.

3. Watch for signs of progress
One reason lead nurturing programs exist is that the buy cycle can be long, complex and involve multiple decision makers. Prospects do not want to be pressured into making quick decisions. You must keep the long view and respect their timelines in your lead nurturing programs. That said, look for signs of prospects moving forward, and when they do, take appropriate action, such as passing them off to a sales representative or sending them a customized offer.

To do this requires that you keep track of what your prospects are doing and adjust their lead scores along the way. For example, a lead that scores one upon initial contact with your company could become a three after spending three months in your lead nurturing program, based on their digital behavior. Therefore, you must continually monitor your prospects, track their behavior and look for signs of progress that indicates a change in the status of their readiness to engage.

4. Use Marketing Automation
It’s possible to develop and execute a lead nurturing program using manual processes or spreadsheets, but marketing automation software is becoming a common tool and an investment might make economic sense. The fact is, your prospects are everywhere on digital media—websites, social media sites, online events, blogs, webinars, video sharing sites and more. They are downloading, clicking, reading, streaming, watching and commenting. Plus you’re likely using multiple digital channels in your quest to connect with prospects.

Marketing automation software allows you to capture all of this action across digital channels. It is built to excel at lead management and nurturing. It can help you manage all of this complexity by scoring leads, creating landing pages, tracking prospect actions, triggering automatic emails, reporting on the effectiveness of various content, producing analytics and much more.

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How do you nurture leads? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Only Online Event Focused on Marketing in the Industrial Sector Returns June 6

Hosted by IHS GlobalSpec, the Industrial Marketing Digital Summit (IMDS) is the only online event focused on marketing in the industrial sector. This year’s event takes place on Thursday, June 6. Registration is free and you can attend from the convenience of your desk.

Industrial marketers will lead educational sessions on content marketing, lead management, digital media use in the industrial sector and more.

In addition, leading marketing experts will discuss customer relationships and demand generation.

Register today for this informative event and get the ideas and knowledge you need to deliver more effective marketing, better connect with your target audience and gain a competitive advantage in your marketplace.

Educational sessions include (view complete agenda):

Keynote: Marketing – The New Normal
Stephanie Buscemi, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, IHS

Panel: Opportunity for Growth through Efficient Lead Management
Laura Hoffman, Vice President, Global Marketing, Red Lion Controls
Greg Livingstone, Chief Marketing Officer, Fluitec International
Amy Campbell, Owner and Director of All That Happens, The Red Checker

Maximizing Thought Leadership through Online Events
Ralph Bright, Vice President, Marketing, Interpower Corporation

Winning with Customers
Keith Pigues, Dean of the School of Business at North Carolina Central University and co-author of Winning with Customers: A Playbook for B2B

The Digital Disruption and What it Means to You
Chris Chariton, Senior Director, Digital Media Solutions, IHS GlobalSpec

Demand Process: Taking a Strategic Approach to Demand Generation
Adam Needles, Chief Strategy Officer at ANNUITAS and author of Balancing the Demand Equation

Ten Practical Ideas for Content Marketing
Bob Russotti, Senior Director of Marketing, ANSI

Exhibitors include Annuitas, Business Marketing Association, BtoB Magazine and Exact Target.
 

Content Marketing Digital Media Events Marketing, General