While recently having a chat on the backdrop of a customer experience event with the Head of Sales of one of the largest industrial conglomerates, she asked: “Is there any software that can automate everything right from entry of prospects into the sales funnel?”
Wondering why she had such a question on top of her mind, she replied that her sales team did not have any time for follow-ups and a lot of leads hence get lost in this process. Her team was consistently missing their targets, which was stunting growth. She wondered if these lost leads were the solution to her issue.
Digging deeper on this topic with sales & marketing experts from across the globe, I discovered three key challenges in the current Lead-to Cash-process which prevents Sales & Marketing teams to meet their growth numbers and to scale:
- The chasm between marketing qualified lead (MQL) and sales qualified lead (SQL) –
For most organizations, the current practice is that any lead which meets basic business rule is marked as Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), sometimes based on the lead scoring model. These MQLs are then directly assigned to salespeople; without anyone reaching out to lead in one-on-one conversations to check if they are sales-ready or not. Consequently, only 13% leads move from MQL to SQL, most of leads are rejected by salespeople stating that leads are not yet sales-ready or the quality of leads has issues.
- Salespeople wasting time and efforts on unwilling leads or unproductive tasks –
Salespeople want to sell and meet their numbers, but only 24.3% of salespeople exceeded their quota in 2018. Most of the salespeople end up spending more than 50% of their efforts on wrong leads and repetitive and time-consuming steps, such as asking basic pre-qualification questions, sending follow-up emails, updating CRMs about follow-up conversations, etc. Fewer deals are hence closed and customer focus is being lost while multi-tasking.
- Delay in instant one-on-one engagement –
This is one of the key reasons for leads getting cold. As per current practice, whether it is potential leads filling in contact forms on the web landing pages or visiting your conference booth, businesses typically start killing the leads with an automated CRM message and missing an immediate one-on-one engagement. Sometimes, salespeople are overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of MQLs. They are forced to haphazardly select which MQLs to follow up on, while others are left untouched for no reason other than a lack of time.
If we think deeply about answers to the challenges highlighted in the above paragraph, what any business need is human-like ability, to engage leads instantly in one-on-one conversations, to pre-qualify and check if leads are ready for sales conversations before they fall into the abyss of an inbox, and to seamlessly manage lead lifecycle updating CRM as the conversation progresses.
What if it were possible to engage every lead an organization recorded? What if before a salesperson reached out to an MQL, they knew that MQL was truly qualified to buy? What if this process could also scale as an organization grew? Autonomous Lead Management can do this. whereby virtual sales experts without manual intervention are managing your leads throughout the funnel until it becomes sales qualified lead (SQL). It is like putting lead management on autonomous mode using technology.
Consider you have a team of virtual AI sales experts. These experts are trained to carry out human-like intelligent conversations using various channels such as e-mail and text. Any leads generated via online/offline campaigns or lead sitting in CRM can be handed over to virtual sales experts to engage and pre-qualify to find out if a prospect is ready to have sales conversations. If positive, it can be seamlessly handed over to real sales; if negative content marketing can continue further nurturing.
image source: Inversation by SAP
Like inside sales resource, virtual sales experts can perform various repetitive tasks efficiently 24/7 to augment capacity and to bring scale, such as:
- Pre-qualify the prospect and connect with right & real salesperson
- Find out if the prospect has interest in products or services
- Find out if the prospect has interest in upgrade (upsell) or other portfolio products (cross-sell)
- Get a meeting/call with the prospect post an event
- Get a meeting with the prospect for an upcoming conference
- Engage from try to buy cycle
- Get feedback from the prospect of products or services
While having conversations, virtual sales experts can simply connect to any existing CRM solution in a bi-directional way to update the status of lead, update all interactions and update the outcome of interactions, ensuring existing CRM solutions always up to date.
Also, virtual sales experts are flexible enough to fit anywhere in the existing sales process. For example, if businesses already have heavily invested in Inside Sales resources, virtual sales experts can take up conversations when Inside Sales finds a dead-end.
The next question which comes to anyone’s mind is why existing marketing automation systems or CRM don’t address these challenges.
Although marketing automation or CRM does its job very well of nurturing prospects via content marketing, it doesn’t solve the core problem “how do you find real intent to buy?”. These systems lack the capability of processing direct responses from a prospect or engaging prospects in human-like intelligent conversations. A click doesn’t mean the prospect is ready for sales conversation or opening of email doesn’t mean prospect has the intent to buy.
This is exactly where Autonomous Lead Management complements marketing automation or CRM systems whereby it takes over leads, gets into real human-like conversations, seamlessly hands over leads to sales at the right time and updates all interactions into CRM to have single system of records.
And from discussions with Marketers across small, medium and large businesses, one thing they desire as an outcome of automated engagement is “real proof that lead has actually shown interest and are ready to have sales conversation”, this for sales function to get excited about the opportunity and accept leads.
Therefore, by introducing an Autonomous Lead Management solution powered by virtual sales experts at top of the sales funnel, businesses will not only boost sales but also will augment sales capacity.
Stay tuned for more on “Autonomous Lead Management”, if you want to try such a solution without obligations then visit Inversation by SAP .