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How To Speed Up Opportunities Through the Funnel With Machine Learning

How To Speed Up Opportunities Through the Funnel With Machine Learning    

As B2B marketers push the limits of their marketing automation and CRM systems, they are struggling to improve lead conversion rates. The fact is that marketing automation systems and CRM software simply can’t take into account all potential buying signals associated with leads.

While CRM and marketing automation very effectively track contact-level fit (fi.e. title, industry, etc.) and engagement (i.e. email opens, site visits, etc.), they provide no insight into the buying signals associated with the company, such as technology usage or hiring trends. Because of this, B2B marketers lack the complete 360 degree view of buying signals needed to accurately predict likely buyers from poor leads.

What’s more, about 75 percent of manually-built lead scoring models are not data-driven at all.  According to Sirius Decisions, most are based on the opinions and beliefs of marketing and sales about what makes up a quality lead. Without more sophisticated predictive tools, marketers simply have no way of using data to validate whether their assumptions are correct.

Weaving Predictive Lead Scoring into the Buyer Funnel

Though the value of predictive marketing – and specifically, predictive lead scoring – is clear, it’s important that any

predictive tool fits into marketing’s existing workflow and tool set. Regardless of how an organization views its revenue funnel, the key is to apply predictive lead scoring at each crucial conversion point – especially the critical handoff between marketing and sales.

The first conversion is when marketing makes the determination that a lead is sales-ready. Typically, they then pass the lead to a lead development team to further qualify and vet the lead (MQL -> SQL). With predictive lead scoring, marketers can be assured they are only passing sales the leads that are most likely to buy. As a result, sales will no longer waste time trying to track down and qualify contacts that would be better served by a nurture program.

The second key conversion point is when the sales team is tasked with qualifying a huge volume of leads (SAL -> SQL). Without a solid mechanism for deciding where to focus, sales either randomly follows up with leads or cherry-picks leads based on a very unscientific process. Because of the time required to contact so many leads, often a large percentage of good leads fall through the cracks while sales is spinning its wheels with the bad ones. If marketing can tell the team how likely a given lead is to convert, the sales reps can prioritize their efforts using science rather than chance.

As you embark on your journey to predictive marketing, remember to keep your buyer process and conversion goals in mind. Many of our customers focus on optimizing the handoff between marketing and sales and are seeing a 3X lift in conversion.

And just as importantly, earlier stage leads are kept in nurture programs designed to gently guide a lead through a buying process. They get the information and education they need to make a decision, and are not turned off by being hounded by a sales person far too early in the buying cycle. A win for sales, marketing, and the future customer.

   Image Credit(s):                Graeme Law                    

Written by

Rob Bois
April 30, 2014