How to get more SQLs: Our Top Three Strategies

by Lauren Glover
  |  November 5, 2020  |  
November 5, 2020

Get More SQLs in 2021

Over the last few months, we’ve heard many of our clients are experiencing shrinking marketing budgets. Not only that, the face-to-face meetings that were previously often used to seal the deal are now nearly non-existent. So, what can a marketing department do to help feed the sales team more SQLs? Here are 3 ways, from up and down the funnel, your marketing department can continue to support active sales teams this year.

How to get more B2B Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs): Our Top Three Strategies

Generating Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) is an essential part of any B2B digital marketing strategy. While many marketing budgets have been slashed, the need for a steady stream of SQLs hasn’t let up. It’s possible, given the environment, there is an even greater need for the sales team to stay busy chasing down and nurturing leads. Given that, here are 3 demand generation strategies your marketing department can get more SQLs.

What is a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)?

A Sales Qualified Lead is someone who has qualified themselves as a prospective customer who is ready to engage in a sales process with your sales team. Typically, this is a prospect who has qualified themselves by taking a step within your marketing funnel that involves the beginning of a sales process (i.e. requesting a demo or consultation).

Top-of-Funnel Strategy: Fill, fill, fill that funnel with Awareness and Traffic Campaigns

This particular strategy isn’t going to be all that groundbreaking, but it is still vital to stress the importance of awareness and traffic campaigns, even when budgets are strapped. Efforts and campaigns that promote who you are and the problems you solve are the only way to continue to build that funnel.

If you want more SQLs, you will need a larger pool of people to convert into SQLs. Working to increase that conversion rate is a great goal, but that takes time, testing, and, most likely, a lot of money. An easier way to increase the total number of SQLs you generate is to strategically double, triple, or quadruple the pool of people in your funnel.

Start by creating and promoting blogs on Facebook and LinkedIn to your Ideal Customer Profile or Targeted Account List (TAL). Studies show that companies who invest in their top-funnel, as well as their mid- and bottom-funnel, get more conversions and a better overall CPL. And don’t forget, many prospects who are in your mid- and top-funnel may be consuming your top-of-funnel content as they continue down the funnel. So, campaigns that continue to send people to your site will help down-funnel as well.

Don’t forget the power of organic top-of-funnel efforts like social selling. People do business with people, not brands. That is why getting your sales team involved is so critically important. Have your sales representatives amplify and share your content on their social profiles to build strong relationships with their LinkedIn connections. Not only will this circumvent LinkedIn’s algorithm, which sometimes throttles posts from company pages, but it will also multiply the reach and engagement of your organic social posts.

Middle-of-Funnel Strategy: Direct Your Audience to Gated Assets

So you’ve multiplied the number of people consuming and reading your-top-of funnel content, what next? We recommend running an ad to a gated asset concurrently. When combined with the top-of-funnel strategy explained above, Vende calls this tactic an ABM Surround. This is where you will create Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). 

What is an ABM Surround?

ABM Digital Surrounds are a perfect way to accelerate your ABM initiatives. Once you have identified targeted accounts, you can leverage various digital tactics to ensure your brand shows up in multiple places where your targeted prospect spends time online. Critical elements of an ABM surround include:

  • Programmatic Display: You can feed a CRM email list, account list, or even physical business addresses into a programmatic campaign and serve display ads. When your targeted users are surfing the web, your ads will appear, making your brand look like you are everywhere.
  • Social Media: Like programmatic display, you can feed a CRM list or targeted account list into your campaign; but you can also overlay other targeting features like title, function, or interest.
  • Retargeting – When someone from your target account list visits, your website can fire off display or social ads.

The idea is to envelop your prospects with your content so that at every turn, they see your blog, or your white paper, or your display ad. This makes it super easy for prospects to find you as they continue learning about how your company solves their problems. At every turn, there’s your name, your logo, and your thought leadership. ABM Surrounds are the best way to generate mid-funnel Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) on sites like LinkedIn.

As Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) come in, have SDRs or sales reps reach out and connect with prospects on sites like LinkedIn. This is key in nurturing relationships with targeted buyers.

Not all content should be gated. Follow the guide below for best practices for when to gate your infographic describing when to gate content

To keep your audience from going ad-blind, keep your gated content fresh by swapping out what you are promoting quarterly. Once the flight is over, save those already-promoted assets on your site. As long as the asset is still relevant, you’ll see leads continue to flow.

Bottom-of-Funnel Strategy: Don’t Let Those Leads Fizzle

The follow-up is perhaps the most critical step to seeing more SQLs next year. You’ve got someone interested! Don’t let that interest wane by dragging your feet to follow up.

Start with marketing automation campaigns. Weekly nurture emails, monthly newsletters, and a sales drip (what we call next step emails) can guide people who have opted-in to gated assets to their next step. With each email, you further prove your business’ utility to solving their problem, and you provide the opportunity for your prospects to reach out.

An infographic describing an email automation seriesGet your sales team involved here at the bottom of the funnel as well! Sometimes a personal message from an engaged sales representative can help an MQL take that next step, indicate interest, and convert into an SQL.

And don’t forget the power of that classic phone call. B2B decision-making is famously slow but essentially high-touch. You have a lot of information to share with your prospects, so go ahead and call MQLs as those leads come in. Not only does this give you a chance to qualify them, but it also provides yet another opportunity to show how your solution can solve your prospect’s problems. If you don’t get to talk to someone, that’s ok! Leave that voice mail and try again later. In B2B marketing, it takes an average of 8 attempts to convert a lead, but most companies only follow up 4 times. Wondering why your MQLs aren’t converting to SQLs? This could be why.

Leverage Full Funnel Multi-Channel Strategies For More SQLs

These concepts are summarized below. To generate more SQLs, you’ll need to focus on filling the funnel with targeted prospects, converting them mid-funnel into MQLs using ABM surrounds, and finally leveraging marketing automation and sales enablement to them across the finish line. 

strategies for a full funnel marketing approach to get more SQLs in 2021

How Can We Help you Earn More Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)?

With the right systems in place, your business will see a rush of SQLs roll into your sales team. Need help setting up your B2B lead funnel? Watch our on-demand webinar B2B Lead Funnel Framework to Grow Online Leads or schedule a consultation. We’re happy to help!

Key Insights

  • Top-of-Funnel activities and spend will continue to be an essential part of any strategy to get more SQLs.
  • Swap out gated content periodically to keep your content fresh. Save previously promoted assets on your site to see additional leads flow.
  • Don’t forget the follow-up. An active sales team with marketing support will help grow the number of MQLs that convert to a SQL.
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