One of my old colleagues was running the marketing function at a big company and asked me if I had any ideas how to increase how many sales leads get generated from the leads his marketing team generates.
Your team might know this as MQL to SQL conversion rate. MQL being marketing qualified lead, and SQL (or sometimes QSL) being sales qualified leads.
If you’re just trying to increase the rate of conversion, one easy way is to make the denominator smaller. If you have fewer MQLs by being more picky about which leads you certify as being “marketing qualified” then a higher percentage of them will turn into sales qualified leads.
The problem is your team probably has a monthly MQL target, so you can’t just generate fewer MQLs by pre-disqualifying lower probability leads before sending them to sales.
Besides, how would you even know with any kind of certainty which leads are more or less likely to turn into sales?
A lot of the techniques your team uses could be just fancy guesswork. I’ve seen companies base their marketing qualification scores purely on website activity. If the company has 10 pdfs to download, and a lead signs up to download 9 of them, they get scored as a 9 out of 10, that sort of thing.
Here’s a better way. Get your leads on a call with one another. Say you have 10 new leads each week. Once a month invite all 40 of them to a virtual peer-to-peer conversation about a problem you solve.
Your role in the conversation is to say as little as possible. “Welcome!” might be enough. Let them talk to each other about the problem. Encourage them to share stories with one another about the problem, what they’ve tried, what’s worked, what hasn’t.
You’ll learn a few things:
1. You’ll learn what they really care about and how they talk to each other
2. Once any of them become SQLs or customers, you’ll have a much deeper understanding of what characteristics make a lead likely to become a customer
3. Your sales team will immediately have excellent reasons and topics to call the leads about.
That last point just by itself is likely to increase your MQL to SQL conversion ratio.
If your sales team is looking at a dubious lead and can’t figure out what to talk to them about other than the 9 pdfs they downloaded, they’re likely to disqualify the lead. Or to call them and have a bad conversation.
But once they’ve heard the lead talk about what matters to them in their own words, the followup sales call conversation becomes so much more natural and relevant. This increases the sales team’s confidence, and can skyrocket your conversion rates.
See also: How to deliver value, not pressure