The ultimate goal of B2B marketing and lead generation is to help the sales team sell. Marketers spend a lot of time and effort creating inbound leads but struggle getting those leads to convert into customers after they hand them off to sales.

As we talk to marketers about their lead generation results, we often hear statements like, “We’re generating lots of leads, but they aren’t converting” or “We need to increase lead quantity” or “We need to generate more qualified leads.” Does this sound like you or someone you know? We are going to share 10 levers you can use to improve your lead conversion right now:

1. Shorten lead follow-up time 

The velocity of following up matters. When people ask for information, they expect a rapid and personal response. Numerous studies show that swift follow-ups increase conversion. Make sure your email reply has a real person’s name on it. Remember, people buy from people. The more you can humanize your lead follow-up the better.  Use your manners. 

2. Go beyond what they expect.

The way you treat your leads tells them about how you’ll serve as customers (from generating interest, through nurturing and into your sales team). Go above and beyond, especially when it comes to those leads that fit your ideal customer profile. It can be things like giving them extra relevant content they didn’t expect or, if they attended a webinar, giving them a follow-up executive summary or an extra white paper that’s relevant. Serve them.

3. Qualify leads with SDRs to maximize effective selling time

80% of marketing leads are lost or discarded, according to  a MarketingSherpa presentation delivered at B2b Marketing Summit 2009. The biggest reason? They’re not ready to talk to a salesperson. The prospect may have responded to marketing campaigns and provided basic contact information, but sales professionals need much more than that. They need a valid business reason to talk to them, and you’re not going to get that on a web form. Improve your lead qualification process to increase “sales ready” lead conversion rates. Delivering leads that your sales team really wants based on your universal lead definition.

4. Understand buyer motivation to help you share content that helps them convert.

Without being annoying, you need to stay in their radar until they’re ready to talk to you.  It’s critical in lead nurturing to know where a prospect is in their buying cycle so that helpful information relevant to the need at a specific point in time can be delivered. Knowing when to provide a case study versus a technical white paper versus a product demo can make a huge difference in converting a lead to a sale.

5. Create content geared toward lead progression, not lead capture.

Invest as much in creating creative and content for lead progression as you do for lead capture. We’ve seen companies spend most of their budget getting people to raise their hands but not enough toward progression. The goal of lead nurturing is to help progress leads from initial interest toward purchase intent. It’s about progression. Sales people often struggle with developing nurturing content without support. If you’re wondering what kinds of content helps progress leads further faster, ask your sales team. Start by asking your sales team questions like, “What’s the content you share with leads that helps them convert?” or “What’s the content you use to help take people to the next level?”

6. Focus on increasing relevance with your lead nurturing.

Relevance is critical lead nurturing. Like most marketers, you’ll start with a more general focus, but the key as you begin learning about your prospects’ unique needs lies in tailoring your lead-nurturing content. This is where using marketing automation can help you understand more about your customers based on what content they’re engaging. As you learn more, you can move from more general content toward content you’d share in a one-to-one relationship.

7. Leverage and test lead scoring to focus the human touch, not replace it

Most marketers use lead scoring as the only means of lead qualification before they route leads to their sales team. Lead scoring should prioritize the human touch, not replace it. Develop your lead scoring system to be consistent with opportunity potential. Not all leads are equal in value and shouldn’t be treated the same. Leverage your ideal customer profile and build segmentation to look at which leads converted into customers. Then, use this information to begin predicting those that will become future customers. Also, leverage lead scoring to help you track engagement. By focusing more on the best prospects, your conversion rates will rise.

8. Improve Sales, marketing systems and process alignment.

Make sure your entire team knows how you generate and qualify leads, where they’re stored, how to follow-up and engage them, what’s expected of them, how to use the CRM and how to convert leads correctly. Let your entire company know you’re past conversion rates and current outcomes. You can make a huge impact by focusing first on creating an Ideal Customer Profile (company-wide, for each product, service or solution). Then, create the Universal Lead Definition of a “sales-ready lead.” Finally, connect the marketing and sales process to the customer’s buying process.

9. Re-engage past leads and get more out your investment.

The year-end push is on, and you may be wondering, “What else can I do to drive more revenue with little or no remaining budget?” We’ve found the best way is to focus on the leads you already have. Get your sales team to hand leads back to marketing for re-engagement. Lead reengagement is one of the most powerful ROI tools marketers have available to them. Why? You’re getting more out of the money you’ve already spent by going deeper within the opportunities you already have. It seems like common sense, but the reality is, very few companies think about it because they assume it’s Sales’ job.

10. Engage in lots of testing beyond lead capture.

It’s important to think of lead generation as a process that can be continually improved through ongoing testing and refinement. Most marketers stop testing after the first step of lead capture (getting people to raise their hand). However, testing hot to increase conversion after they leads respond can have a huge impact on results. One of the most important things you can test is your messaging.

We look forward to hearing how these ideas work to help you increase lead conversion.