As marketers, we are under immense pressure to push leads down the funnel to the sales team. In fact, according to a study by Content Marketing Institute - 85% of B2B businesses see lead generation as their most important marketing goal. However, APSIS found 68% of B2B businesses struggle with lead generation.
What happens when a lead says "no" after a sales call?
Well, it depends, but for a lot of the leads - welcome to the danger zone of "No Bias.” This is the impact on a lead that is wrongfully pressured down the funnel just to say “no”, and now that lead, - you guessed it - has a negative bias and will be harder to bring back to the table.
“You just don’t get it!” No, I know and I’ll clarify. Sometimes leads come to the sales table, and that means you’ve at least introduced your company and raised awareness, right? Sure - if they were actually interested in coming for the demo.
Are they really a sales qualified lead?
Nowadays with all the pressure to push leads down the pipeline - we’re pushing all the leads; qualified and unqualified, alike. In the name of ABX - “Take a demo and get a $105 Amazon gift card”. Woohoo! (Not really ABX, but we’ll get to that ABX fallacy on a different day.) Those are the leads we’re talking about here. Those leads, the ones that we pushed to sales for the wrong reasons, when they say ”no” - it might have been the push over the ledge for them and it will be much, much, MUCH harder to turn them around later. We harmed our brand equity and paid a hefty price to do so. The result is a poor experience that sets the stage for failure and missed opportunities.
The impact is significant.
Let’s continue with the gift card example. The leads may feel like the gift was like a bribe or there was pressure to purchase something they're not ready for, which is an icky feeling. They take the call to get the gift card, but unless they actually have the buying power and have interest in the value that you can provide them; they are coming to the (waste of a) 30 minute intro call with a guaranteed “no”. For them, they don't feel seen, that you understand them as a buyer and where they are at, on the journey. They go along with the game and attend the meeting, likely numb to the offering - they know they now have to fulfill a task of being presently sold to for 30 minutes for the actual prize they’re after (hint - not your company’s value prop).They also know sales will hunt them down until they let them down or ghost them in shame.
Have you ever been on a date or in a relationship that you knew wasn’t right for you? You may have known it for a while and then had to build up the let down. Well, then you know the anxious feeling of stringing someone along and all that awkwardness that comes with it. We don’t remember what someone said or did to us but how they made us feel, right? Let’s not be the brand that makes our leads feel awkward. Not only was this not a win but this person now has negative feelings towards your brand.
For sales teams, ugh.. Poor sales teams, the game was rigged! So much time and energy wasted. As for the sales execution gap - it's even wider than before. They're chasing after a lost cause and are, unbeknownst to them, adding fuel to the icky-feeling fire. The focus on relevant leads was off and time was a waste. More and more no's chip away at the motivation and trust in the ABX efforts and marketing team, and add frustration and burnout.
For marketers, these leads are still in their ideal customer profile!
As if everything with sales wasn't enough, what's a marketer to do? Maybe they weren’t ready now, but we just spent a LOT of money to push them down the wrong path in the funnel. We gave them a less than optimal experience and feeling from our company. We missed an opportunity for nurturing and building relationships with memorable and meaningful touchpoints. Unfortunately, we set ourselves up not only to miss this Q’s goals but 2 Qs down the road, as well. The result is a loss of leads both now and later.
How can companies, and marketers in particular, overcome the "No Bias"?
Although most leaderships push for quick wins, there’s a reality of the times and sales cycles are longer than ever, companies are holding back and cutting budgets across the whole market - and if we don’t acknowledge that we’ll continue to sell like it’s 2021 (and lose, if that wasn’t obvious). Alas, hope is not lost, all companies want to grow and need helpful tools to do so. The age-old adage stands true: everyone wants to buy, no one wants to be sold to.
Understanding what has changed and that buying processes are longer - companies that can and will create thoughtful, empathetic, and memorable buying journeys will be the ones that prosper. That means that MQL to SQL definitions are not loosely translated and are embraced by all business units. Those journeys let buyers self select the right path for them at the right time, and in doing so provide the support along the way until the leads are actually qualified.
As for the ever-growing gifting tactic...
At Outgage, we believe in the power of gifting journeys as part of the ABX strategy. Like any other marketing tactic - gifting campaigns can be used to entice buyers not only to hop on a call, but to move down the funnel into the next step that’s right for them (you can see how Zendesk did it well, here), with the added power of creating memorable experiences.
Let’s remember that every engagement is an opportunity to learn more about the person in front of us, what’s important to them and create personalized and pleasant journeys and relationships.