Did you ever get a phone call like this:
“I noticed you just downloaded a white paper from our site, and I wanted to follow up with you… “
Heck, give your prospects a day or two to read the thing before you start badgering them?!
Such an over-aggressive sales process can destroy any goodwill that your white paper creates.
If you’re on a marketing team responsible for generating leads for your sales force, remember:
Just because someone downloaded a white paper doesn’t mean they’re ready to talk to a salesperson.
Your sales team is bound to get poor results from such premature followups.
That can even prompt Sales to complain about the “poor leads” they get from Marketing.
Marketing really needs to sit down with Sales and define a “sales-ready lead.”
Then your team can score all the leads you generate, and pass them on to Sales only if they’re worth pursuing.
Marketing, not Sales
Don’t be mistaken: Pre-qualifying leads is a job for Marketing, not Sales.
But how can you manage it?
Perhaps you can design a brief survey as you nurture your leads and continue to feed them useful content.
Perhaps a marketing person can phone the most promising leads to find out where they stand with their project… a week or so after they download your white paper.
Either of those tactics are far more acceptable to a B2B buyer than having a pushy salesperson call too early.
Whatever you do, make sure to build your white paper into your company sales process.
Know what you want your readers to do next, and how you will continue to engage and qualify them.
That way your white paper can do its job: Helping to generate leads at the top of the funnel, nurture prospects through the middle of the funnel, or cement sales at the bottom of the funnel.
4 ways to score leads
Here are four things to consider when scoring leads. Most B2B vendors use some combination of these four.
Job title: Do they fit your target audience? Are they at a level with enough authority to make a purchase, or at least recommend one?
Are they from some unlikely department that’s never bought from you before? Or are they students just doing research, who are never going to buy anything?
Budget: Do they have an actual budget for their project? Or are they just “seeing what’s out there” with no real intention of ever buying?
Hint: Don’t ask them about their budget in your white paper registration form. That’s irritating and won’t get you many truthful answers.
Time frame: Are they ready to buy now? If not, when will they be? Or are they just wondering whether your offering can help their business? Again, don’t expect to gather this knowledge from the first registration form.
Buying process: Do they have a selection committee? Who else is on it? How often do they meet?
You can’t often know these things without interacting some more with each lead. This will take more effort, but it’s worth it.
Publishing a white paper is not a one-shot deal. It’s part of a much bigger marketing + sales process.
And when you visualize this process in a more holistic way, you will generate far better results.
This article is a brief excerpt from White Papers for Dummies by Gordon Graham.
With dozens of tips and best practices for planning, producing, and promoting effective white papers, White Papers for Dummies is the most comprehensive guide to white papers ever published.
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