This article is the first of a four-part series on the digital superfecta: the four things all companies must get right in order to maximize their growth potential. Read on to learn more about the first leg of the digital superfecta, and find links at the bottom of the article to the other three legs.
Every summer a group of long-time friends and I have a little reunion in Saratoga, NY at the race track. While I can’t claim to be a horse racing expert, it is fun placing $2 bets and hanging out for the afternoon. Early in the day, I place simple bets, like picking a horse to come in first. As the day goes on, I get bolder. I’m risking my two bucks on complicated wagers like the superfecta, in which the player must pick the first four finishers of a race in the correct sequence.
In the digital world, we’ve found there are four things that companies need to get right to maximize their potential—we call these the digital superfecta. They are qualified lead generation, e-commerce conversion, product management, and analytics. If your digital team is excelling along these four tracks, you are well on your way to solid digital revenue growth. If not, there could be trouble ahead.
Leg One: Qualified Lead Generation
I once saw sales consultant Marc Wayshak give a speech on sales strategy. He hammered home the point that, for salespeople, their job is to disqualify leads. At face value that sounds counterintuitive, but why would you waste your limited time trying to convince people who will never buy from you?
If your marketing department can help your sales team disqualify leads, then you have a huge advantage over your competition. You’ll be able to close more deals, faster, and at a lower cost.
The typical way a marketing team can qualify or disqualify leads is through content marketing efforts.
Creating how-to guides, industry reports, whitepapers, and the like can capture leads. Then, you use subsequent campaigns (typically emails, blog posts, and social media activity) to better understand each prospect. Ultimately, the goal is to classify leads by their likelihood of buying.
Depending on how prospects engage with your content, you can slate them into one of four categories. This approach works for both B2B and B2C companies.
These prospects are fully aware of what you have to offer and understand how your products will help them solve a known problem. They regularly engage with your content, opt in for more details, and sign up for webinars, events, and consultations.
Hand these leads over to your best closers, and focus on making the deal as soon as possible. Send them direct sales materials with conversion-oriented copy (e.g., “buy now!” or “special offer”).
While these prospects are incredibly promising, they’re also rare. Probably only three to five percent of your prospects are hot.
These prospects are aware of the need to solve the problem you address, but they may not know about your specific offerings. They’ve proactively signed up for some information and occasionally open emails or visit your site, but they do not engage consistently.
Focus on educating these prospects on your points of differentiation. Continue sending them useful information on the problem you solve. If you are a B2B company, consider using an inside sales team to set up appointments with your sales consultants.
Cold, But Qualified, Prospects
These prospects are just starting to realize they have a problem, but they’re not yet sure what to do about it. Focus on highlighting the negatives if the problem persists, and paint a picture of how great life would be if the problem were solved. Your goal should be to provide enough information on the pain of the status quo and the pleasure of the future state that they become warm prospects.
Don’t push your company or products too much with this segment. They don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to. Instead, start by lighting a fire—get them interested in the problem you solve, then later you can introduce them to your specific solution.
These are prospects that don’t see or refuse to admit they have a problem. They ignore your ads and emails and don’t visit your site no matter what you do. Life’s too short and resources are too constrained to focus on this segment. Let your competition spin their wheels (and squander their marketing budget) on this group of customers.
So there you have it. Leg one of the digital superfecta: qualified sales leads. If you want to learn more, check out Leg 2: Three E-Commerce Conversion Gaffs, Leg 3: Project Management 10 Question Challenge and Leg 4: Don’t Be Scared of Analytics: A Seven Step Plan.
About the Sterling Woods Group, LLC
The Sterling Woods Group’s mission is to help clients make sense of their data to predictably grow sales. We apply data science to help you optimize your sales funnel, improve your marketing ROI, launch new products successfully, and enter new markets profitably.
We use a hypothesis-driven, data-supported methodology to discover insights that no one else is paying attention to. Then, we help you assemble the right sales strategies, marketing plans, technologies, and resources to seize this opportunity.
About the Author
Rob Ristagno, founder and CEO of the Sterling Woods Group, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. Starting his career at McKinsey, his focus has always been on embracing digital technology and data science to spur strategic growth.
Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors and is a regular keynote speaker at conferences around the world. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and Digiday.
He holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.
Rob lives outside Boston, MA with his wife, Kate; daughter, Leni; and black lab, Royce.