We've been operating at Mperativ for several years now and have had the opportunity to witness a significant number of Marketing-Ops deployments. One common challenge we consistently encounter is the absence of a coherent strategy concerning lead stage dates.
Many individuals are now transitioning to an account-based marketing model, downplaying the significance of leads and subscribing to the belief that "MQLs are obsolete." At Mperativ, we are staunch proponents of account-based marketing, but we also believe that the time it takes to process a prospect remains important.
What are the rules that dictate when we should reach out to a prospect? How long should a prospect remain in a queue before a Sales Development Representative (SDR) contacts them? What should SDRs communicate when initiating contact with a prospect? What communication channels should SDRs employ to reach a prospect? How much time is typically needed to schedule a meeting? What percentage of scheduled meetings actually materialize? How frequently do these meetings convert into sales pipeline opportunities?
To ensure a seamless engagement process, there are two critical tasks that must be addressed:
Clearly define your lead stages. These stages should be precise and detailed, with alignment across the entire organization. There can be no room for ambiguity.
Stage dates are crucial! We strongly recommend setting up custom fields in either the marketing automation system or CRM to track the date when the conversion actually took place.
At Mperativ, we advocate for lead stages that employ descriptive terms that are self-explanatory. We have discovered that terms like "Sales Accepted" or "Sales Qualified" often lead to confusion, as people frequently struggle to articulate their precise meanings.
Below, we outline the lead stages and their recommended definitions at Mperativ:
A prospect who has completed a form and has been registered in your marketing automation system. This prospect has not yet engaged sufficiently to warrant forwarding to the SDR team.
MARKETING QUALIFIED LEAD
A lead that has engaged sufficiently to be passed on to the SDR team. This is often determined using automated lead scoring. It's important to emphasize that "Marketing Qualified" does not imply that the marketing team sourced the lead; it simply means that marketing is responsible for deciding when to pass the lead to the SDR team, regardless of its source.
"SDR working" indicates that an SDR has accepted a marketing qualified lead and decided to initiate contact in an attempt to schedule a meeting. A consistent process should be established for SDR outreach, including the communication mediums used, scripting, and the duration of scheduling attempts.
The SDR has successfully connected with a prospect and scheduled a meeting. This is where ambiguity can arise when using terms like "Sales Accepted Lead" and "Sales Qualified Lead." It is crucial to distinguish between a booked meeting and a held meeting. These should be distinct stages that are meticulously tracked.
The scheduled meeting has taken place. After a meeting occurs, clear guidelines should be established regarding how long a lead remains before either being routed to nurturing or added as a new opportunity.
Leads that were unreachable or not ready to progress are placed in the nurturing stage. These leads are redirected to marketing for further engagement. The lead score should be reset, and marketing must determine the lead scoring rules governing when a nurtured lead can re-enter the SDR team's purview.
This status should be sparingly used and reserved for junk leads, prospects who wish not to be contacted again, or individuals unrelated to your sales offering.
When implementing an account-based marketing strategy, it's essential to align your account stages with your lead stages. We aim to quantify the distinct number of accounts linked to your leads and examine the lead-to-account ratio. This analysis enables us to gauge the depth of our engagement with these accounts.
A lead-to-account ratio of 1:1 signifies that we are primarily engaging with the surface level of our target accounts. Conversely, a ratio of 5:1 indicates that we are achieving deeper penetration within the account, reaching out to multiple personas within it.
As previously mentioned, it's essential to track conversion dates for each of the above statuses and ensure bidirectional synchronization between your marketing automation system and CRM. Additionally, you may need to create workflows for extracting dates, such as "working," "booked," and "held," from your SDR platform.
Implementing this process is relatively straightforward and should take only a few days, not months. If you are in the process of establishing a best-in-class GTM (Go-To-Market) engine and have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out for assistance. We would be more than happy to share our perspective and provide guidance to help you avoid common pitfalls. That's all for now!