Perhaps even more frustrating than not generating enough qualified leads is having the leads you do generate stall in the funnel. The best way to deal with this problem is to not allow your leads to stall in the first place, because it can be very difficult to restart a stalled opportunity. B2B organizations need to put as much emphasis on funnel acceleration as they do lead generation.
Here are four keys to funnel acceleration and removing the frustration of stalled opportunities.
- Take more time qualifying and getting a better lay of the land. One of the most common reasons that a qualified lead stalls in the funnel is because it wasn’t a truly qualified lead to begin with. Traditional BANT criteria must not always apply because let’s face it, sometimes a prospect doesn’t know what they don’t know in terms of needing a product/service. However, something must be uncovered that qualifies them as a lead worth pursuing in the first place. A few thoughts here:
- If you’re selling a solution to VP and above only, and the ‘lead’ that has stalled in your funnel is a manager or director level contact, there’s a good chance the reason it’s stalled is because that person can’t make a decision or move the engagement to the next phase. Stick to your process and lead criteria and don’t settle for anything less.
- There must be a pain or challenge they’re faced with, or a gap to fill in their business where your solution can provide value. This value is what you’re selling and marketing against as you move them through the funnel to purchase.
- They don’t always have to have budget set aside for your product – remember, sometimes they don’t even know they have a problem or need worth budgeting for until it’s presented to them – but they need to have the ability to secure the necessary budget if it’s determined they have a problem worth solving. Money eventually needs to be flushed out because it’s not a qualified lead if you’re selling a $50k solution and they only have $10k to spend.
- You need to determine if it’s a high priority for them. Sometimes the lead checks all the BANT boxes and your solution is exactly what they’re looking for, but the lead still stalls. This might be because they’re dealing with a $100k problem and your solution solves a $50k problem and takes a backseat. Understanding the urgency they have to move, and the risks they take on by not doing something, are things that need to be discussed and qualified.
- Ensure all necessary stakeholders are involved. Closing deals in today’s B2B landscape is a lot more complex than it was 5-10 years ago. Whereas there used to be a few decision makers involved, larger enterprise deals can have 5 or more stakeholders that have a say in the purchase and all of them can have unique motivations to buy. Sell and market to those unique motivations to personalize the buying experience for each stakeholder. Not doing so, and instead taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach, can stall or flat out kill the deal.
- Get commitments every step of the way. From the time they first enter the funnel as a lead all the way to purchase, prospects should be making commitments at every stage and it’s the job of sales and marketers to get those commitments. You should take control of the process and not let the prospective client dictate next steps. The risk in giving your prospects control is that they likely don’t know how best to work through an effective buying process, and this is where you can educate them and create value. Getting prospect commitments and buy in every step of the way further qualifies them, significantly decreasing the chances of them stalling out on you. They now have a vested interest.
- The right content at the right time. Quality content is king, but the key is giving them the right quality content at the right time. Think about content formats that not only educate, but truly engage and give you more insight on the backend. This insight will enable you to sell smarter and market more efficiently, increasing the likelihood of accelerating them through the buying process. When they first become a lead, driving them to a webinar or video that highlights your organization as subject matter experts could be the appropriate play. As they get further down the funnel, think about content that could help move them to the proposal stage or even to signature – case study webinars that show how you’ve delivered ROI for your customers; deminars (webinars with a demo component) that show how your product could work specifically for them and their use case; or virtual events where they can engage with your company at scale, giving them a better sense of your organization and the customer experience you would provide them with. Webinars and digital events aren’t just for lead generation…they can help you create legitimate opportunities and close business as well.
Jason Stegent is the Founder & President of Elastic Solutions. Email him @ firstname.lastname@example.org