If I were a betting man, I would venture to say the word value didn’t come up in conversations when you met with your team about re-doing your marketing plan. Let’s put some meat on this so you will understand how important it really is.
The word value as it relates to an inquiry or leads for your company is defined in different ways. Many definitions are possible, and they vary depending on the marketing professional who’s defining them, and the hat they wear within the marketing department and/or business.
As a lifelong marketer, my perspective regarding value is quite simple.
There is value in a lead/inquiry if a targeted marketing approach is being used to capture leads, an individual has seen your marketing and they offered their personal information in return for your value your company is offering.
Simple right? Not so fast.
Naturally, reviewing your analytics to see the source of the inquiry and also the validity of it is critical. And that is just the beginning. I like to think of a lead as “The first value transfer.” Once that happens, now the person is in your ecosystem and the work really begins!
The value to the company comes in the form of a transfer of information in return for personal contact information and maybe some other tidbit of information that is relevant to the customer’s motivation to buy. Without that transfer of information, there is very little or no value to the marketing and sales teams.
Wait… there’s more.
Qualified leads are not always derived from marketing campaigns or MQLs. Sales teams also invest loads of time communicating with suspects trying to connect with them to earn their trust. All while gauging whether or not they are of value or not. A sales derived lead is called a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) and has value once certain criteria are met. NOTE: Both SQLs and MQLs are valuable.
The value transfer still occurs in both of these. It may not happen at the same touchpoint or conversion point, but nonetheless, a transfer is happening.
It’s critical to understand your customers and your digital ecosystem well enough to clearly define what value really means, and where in your sales and marketing system value transfers most likely to occur and for what reason.
MQL vs. SQL
As a marketer, a MQL is like gold, and we give each other high fives when we get them. However, as a sales professional, the MQL doesn’t always have as much value (or merit) as a SQL does because it may not be as easy to nurture through to purchase –at least that can be the perception in some sales circles.
Regardless of whether you have a MQL or SQL, both have some sort of a value transfer happening – this is important to grasp. My suggestion is to devise a strategy to work on those leads quickly and efficiently. Pay close attention to what makes these MQLs and SQLs tick.
Nurture your prospects and get them a little closer to trusting the marketing voice of the company. In most cases, a customer needs to see your brand 7-10 times before they take action. So be patient, you’re not trying to sell them right away; you’re trying to earn their trust to get them to the next step.
If your sales cycle is short, pre-qualifying a suspect must happen quickly. If your sales cycle is long, this does not have to happen immediately, although the sooner you do this the sooner you will be able to determine if a prospect is for real or not.
You must understand the nuances of your sales cycle and think about how to nurture the person and inch them closer. We won’t get into persona development and profiling here, but, it is critical to understand and will help you nurture and pre-qualify prospects quicker and more accurately.
Value Expectation and Value Proposition
Let’s come back to that word “value.”
“Value” does have credibility in both sales and marketing circles as we talked about in MQLs and SQLs, and also from the customer’s perspective. We need to consider all of them.
Business value propositions should answer the questions; why do we exist? And, why would the customer want to purchase from us instead of the competition? These questions help create differentiation and show where the value is.
Next, determine your customer’s value expectation. You should start by gathering insights about your customers. (Motivations for buying, buying habits, online preferences, and any details that clearly define them as a potential buyer). Their value expectations are the precious few things that align them with your business. In many cases, these are emotionally driven on the personal side. This emotional connection is very important since emotion is the secret to discovering buying intent. This is especially important in B2C.
When the brand value propositions and the customer value expectations align, together they will create a potent mix that makes your sales and marketing efforts more effective.
As a marketer, it’s our job to understand both value propositions and customer value expectations and build a strategy that uses this knowledge to capture and convert more leads, more efficiently.
Understanding both sides gives you a distinct advantage. So, make it a point to understand your business value, and what value your customers expect – this will pay huge dividends.
Scott MacFarland is a lifelong marketer with a passion for content, marketing, digital, social, web, video, analytics, and all things that lead to successful conversions. Scott is currently the Director of Marketing for HMY Yachts in Jupiter, Florida.
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