Excited by the opportunities to fill the marketing funnel with new leads, marketing teams in considered purchase industries have spent the past decade exponentially enhancing their lead generation techniques. For many, this has meant significant lead growth, better looking KPIs, and lots of high fives in marketing meetings.
But if that avalanche of new leads is falling to a sales team that’s in any way under-staffed, under-funded, or under-trained, there can be major stresses around converting those leads into sales.
Modern Marketing & the Marketing Funnel
Modern marketing has conditioned consumers to expect information and service instantly online. Completing a lead form on Saturday night and not hearing back from a representative until some time the following week is just not accepted. This can lead to consternation around lagging sales, finger pointing between teams, and general un-awesomeness.
One strategy that our team at 5HD has worked with our partners is to focus on middle and bottom of marketing funnel strategies that help close the gap between the prospect and your sales/recruitment/admissions group. Matched audiences can be very useful on this front, but this post is about improving middle and bottom of marketing funnel calls to action.
What if rather than pressuring our sales teams to unrealistic expectations of calling every lead within 10 minutes of their contact, we instead put the power in the prospect’s hands and allowed them to book an appointment with an expert at a time of their choosing.
Using “Book an Appointment” as a middle and bottom of funnel CTA solves problems for all parties. Prospects are more likely to answer the phone when the call is expected and they know who is calling and why. Sales teams are more confident, making the calls in the first place because they know they are responding to an actual request. The leads are inherently better than cold calls or even calls from a lead form, improving the perceived value of marketing’s efforts.
Call Scheduling Adds Value by Empowering Both Parties
For our clients, providing an easy way for their prospects to book informational calls or interviews has improved both lead outcomes and relationships between marketing and sales.
Prospect-scheduled calls empower both sides of the sales interaction– the prospect gets to choose when they will have the call or interview and the salesperson is able to define when they will be available for these appointments.
Clear, visible choices for appointment scheduling put the power in the prospect’s hands. And this positive first impression improves brand equity. It’s a chance to build a relationship before even exchanging a word. And since many sales teams are only available for outreach during working hours, allowing the prospect to choose the time that best suits their daytime schedule improves the likelihood they will be able to take the call.
This improves sales outreach to your leads. Simply put, because the calls are more likely to occur, they’re more likely to convert. For the sales department, this presents the appearance that marketing is providing better quality leads, which in turn can improve the working relationship between both teams.
Calendar apps that integrate with CRMs, particularly with Salesforce, connect the prospect’s information with their contact record, making it easy to build on other actions such as automated email campaigns or task reminders for the designated salespeople.
Make the Impersonal More Personal
Giving prospects the opportunity to schedule appointments through a CTA fits well for considered purchases or any other situation where convincing the individual to commit is often done best on a personal level such as a phone call or one-on-one meeting.
We have implemented this strategy effectively with our graduate and continuing education clients, where the time to decision can range from a few months to several years.
We also see the value in this strategy for any industry using an inquiry-to-sale model. Most follow up to leads is done during business hours when prospects aren’t home or are not available to take a call. When the prospect initiates the interaction and defines the terms, chances for success vastly improve.
We usually use this type of CTA in the middle of the marketing funnel, but we have also included schedule an appointment options alongside other CTAs in top of marketing funnel campaigns like a LinkedIn InMail. Even if the prospect is in an early information-gathering phase, they are now aware that they have the option to schedule an interaction at their convenience with someone who can speak to their particular situation.
Be straightforward about what your prospects can expect from the call. People like to know what they’re signing up for. Even more, they need an expectation of a valuable return for sharing their personal information.
Offer appointment availability on a variety of days and times. Even if the options are only during business hours, providing many open slots increases the likelihood that your target will be able to find a time that works.
Keep availability updated as slots book. Providing a wide range of options gives them a better sense of control.
Ask only for essential information to confirm the appointment. Typically all you need is name, email, and phone number. You can always gather more information later.
Empower your sales force with the tools and education they need to hold the calls or interviews successfully.
Choose a calendar app that is easy to use, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly. We like Calendly because it offers a simple experience that’s easy to use on mobile, integrates with Salesforce, and can add events to a personal calendar. We don’t get any money from them (actually the opposite); they’re just our preferred scheduling app.
By putting more of the power in your prospect’s hands, these calls to action can improve overall conversion, your brand’s equity with prospective customers, and the relationship between your sales and marketing teams.