For many companies, the goal of their paid search campaigns is to generate leads. As marketers, we work hard to get qualified leads to our sales team for the lowest cost possible.
But the problem is, a successful paid search campaign doesn’t just produce cheap leads — it produces economical sales.
The trouble with sales
Recently, I was approached by a client who had decided that paid search simply didn’t work for their business. They had made enough money off of their paid search leads to cover their ad spend, but they weren’t really making any profit.
To be honest, this conclusion came as a surprise.
We had worked in this industry before and knew we were killing it for them. Their paid search campaigns were — by every metric we had available — performing admirably well. In fact, we were driving hundreds of high-intent leads to their sales team.
Based on our previous experience in this industry, we knew that approximately ten percent of those leads should have been turning into sales.
However, this client was only closing one percent of their leads.
No wonder paid search wasn’t making sense for their business!
Baffled, I started asking questions. Were the leads a bad fit for their business? Were we bidding on the wrong keywords? Was there something wrong with our advertising approach?
The answer was both frank and insightful:
“Jake, the problem isn’t the leads. The leads are great. My sales team just doesn’t know how to close these leads.”
It was a problem I’d seen many times before. Without the right sales processes in place, even the best paid search marketing will never produce a profit.
Why sales teams struggle (and how to fix it)
Paid search is a great way to get high-intent, highly qualified leads in the door. But paid search leads are different from many other kinds of leads.
What makes paid search leads different?
As marketers, we understand the psychology of paid search.
Paid search leads start by searching for something specific online. As part of that search, they find an ad and think, “This looks like what I want.” They click the ad, check out the landing page and decide, “Yes, I’m interested.” From there, they fill out a form or call in for more information.
As straightforward as this process is, it’s important to note that these leads are actively looking for solutions. They reached out because they have a problem they want to solve now.
This is very different from other lead generation approaches like cold calling, TV advertisements, or even social media ads. In each of these cases, the lead is reacting to your content.
In paid search advertising, your leads are initiating contact with your content. In other words, they are seeking you out. That makes them incredibly qualified leads… but it also means you probably aren’t the only solution they are considering.
How to handle paid search leads
With the psychology of paid search advertising in mind, here are five things your sales team needs to know about their paid search leads.
1. Response times matter
Remember, paid search leads are actively searching. That means they are probably looking at your competitors, too.
According to InsideSales.com, 50 percent of buyers choose the vendor that responds first. Since paid search leads are looking for and at your competitors, you are in a race against the clock to be the first to respond.
Plus, new leads are 100x more likely to respond if contacted within five minutes (vs. after 30 minutes), so every passing second increases the chance that your lead will find a more interesting competitor or get distracted by another page.
They are on the internet, after all.
Wherever possible, your sales team should be responding to paid search leads in less than five minutes. Inbound calls from prospects should never go to voicemail or wait on hold for a prolonged period. Your hot paid search leads are simply too expensive to waste.
2. Keep calling
Typically, if you want a 90-percent contact rate, your sales team needs to shoot for a minimum of eight to 12 contact attempts over a ten- to 14-day period. Just to contact 50 percent of your leads, your sales reps will need to average at least six contact attempts.
The problem is, most sales reps attempt to contact leads 1.3 to 2.1 times before giving up. As a result, only about one one in every four internet leads are actually contacted.
Paid search leads typically cost tens, hundreds or thousands of dollars apiece — can your company afford to pay four times that amount per contacted lead?
Plus, these lead are expensive because they are so hot. That means they may be your easiest-to-close leads.
Therefore, it’s in your sales team’s (and your company’s) best interest to make at least eight to 12 contact attempts before giving up.
3. Stop cherry-picking leads
Because paid search provides a steady stream of leads, sales reps sometimes start cherry-picking leads. After all, there are always more leads, right?
The problem is, those wasted leads are expensive.
Often, I’ve seen ambitious sales people take two to three times as many leads as their teammates and simply focus on the leads that are easiest to close.
As a result, they make a lot of sales, but their sale-to-lead ratio is so low that the company actually ends up paying more for wasted leads than they make on the rep’s closed sales.
To address or avoid this problem, it’s a good idea to keep your sales team hungry. If your sales team isn’t asking for more leads, they probably have too many… which leads to cherry-picking.
4. Messaging alignment
Most paid search leads convert because they think your company can solve a very specific problem for them. When your sales team contacts them, they are expecting to have that problem addressed.
If sales tries instead to sell them something different from what your marketing promised, they’ll feel betrayed and lose interest.
On the other hand, if the sales message matches the marketing message, that will confirm to the lead that reaching out was the right move.
So, to make sure that your sales team is meeting the expectations of your paid search leads, the sales team needs to be dialed into the messaging of your paid search ads.
Communicating your paid search strategy to your sales team will take some extra work on your part, but it will make your sales team more effective… which makes your paid search campaigns more profitable.
Plus, the more you communicate with your sales team, the easier it will be to target your messaging to your ideal audience. Your sales team knows which kinds of leads are the best fit for your business, so they can give you the information you need to improve your marketing.
Personally, I’ve seen this sort of marketing-sales crosstalk produce millions in additional revenue from paid search. So, if you aren’t talking to your sales team on a regular basis, your campaigns are probably underperforming.
5. Get them off the market!
Finally, paid search leads are often in a “ready-to-buy” mode. As a result, if you don’t take them off the market, someone else will.
This is particularly important for companies with more expensive products or services. If you aren’t aggressively pursuing your paid search leads, they will often look at your competition and decide to try out a lower-cost option instead, even if that isn’t the best solution for them.
The more quickly you can get to your paid search leads and convince them that they’ve found the right solution, the sooner you will get them off of the market and away from the competition.
Without a sales team that understands how to handle paid search leads, most companies struggle to turn conversions into sales. As a result, they often find it hard to make money off of paid search.
As digital marketers, it’s important to understand why sales teams may have a hard time closing paid search leads and equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to turn those expensive leads into profitable sales.
Overall, creating this sort of marketing-sales alignment will produce fantastic results and allow your company to finally capitalize on the potential of your paid search campaigns.
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