Big live events were where many B2B sales conversations began. In-person venues such as trade shows, user and customer summits, and partner events were where marketing and sales teams engaged with hundreds or thousands of prospects and customers.
What we learned over the years is that a passing interaction with an attendee on a show booth was essentially worthless. Surveys showed that badge scans, which for some time were a key metric used to determine ROI of an event, were essentially worthless.
Savvy show managers often ignored badge scans at live events. Instead, they focused on driving outcomes that focused on engagements that could advance the sales discussion.
Before the event, they would maximize the number of qualified meetings scheduled during the event. And during the event, they would also schedule ad-hoc meetings on the floor after qualifying the attendee and matching that prospect or customer with an executive available at the show.
These customer and prospect meetings were extremely valuable for influencing revenue. How can we recreate this model at a time where all marketing programs are taking place in the virtual realm?
Before the pandemic, we had a pretty good model for conversion. If we drove 100K visitors (from our events and other marketing programs) we would expect roughly a 5% conversion rate: about 5,000 leads.
Some of these leads become MQLs (marketing-qualified leads), based on the level of interest the lead has shown in our brand or product. This is usually the point where the handoff to sales happens, so sales can then qualify these leads and convert them into opportunities as part of the sales pipeline.
For most B2B marketing and sales activities, just one percent of leads convert to wins. In this example, starting with about 5,000 leads, perhaps 50 will pan out into a signed contract. Note that this metric can vary a lot based on average selling price, type of industry, and length of the sales cycle.
Sales teams are often understandably skeptical about MQLs because they can waste a lot of time determining whether an MQL is ready to buy. Those MQLs that make it through become sales-qualified leads (SQLs), ready for the next phase of the sales process.
But what if you could deliver a sales lead in the form of a prospect who has requested a meeting to learn more about your product? This is where MQMs become important.
Customer or prospect meetings have always been an indispensable tool for growing the B2B sales pipeline. Typically, an enterprise sale involves moving prospects from awareness and through education, consideration, and decision phases.
For B2B products, the last three phases of this process will generate better results when the focus shifts to 1-to-1 meetings, product demos, expert meetings, executive meetings, partner meetings, and other meetings where prospects can engage with sales and marketing experts.
Certainly, during a pandemic, though, these B2B meetings are held virtually, but if marketing and sales enablement can do this at scale, the sales team will have something far more valuable than a marketing-qualified lead: a marketing-qualified meeting (MQM).
MQMs are extremely versatile because they can be defined as a virtual CTA (call to action) across all your digital marketing programs and virtual events. Virtual events, webinars, and almost all demand-generation campaigns can be adapted to include a “schedule a meeting” call to action.
To get started, think about how to integrate MQMs into your virtual events, webinars, partner meetings and digital marketing programs to offer your prospects educational and valuable ways to learn more — through a product demo, an executive briefing, or a “Meet the Expert” briefing.
This proven approach can be adapted to your existing digital marketing programs:
A successful MQM program will generate a high volume of meeting requests, and these must be closely managed and tracked for effectiveness and follow up.
Setting up a meeting with a prospect or customer can require as many as 14 emails and calls for a half-hour meeting if handled manually, so enterprises that are serious about booking MQMs at scale use a meeting automation platform (MAP).
By adding a MAP to your marketing tech stack you’ll be able to significantly scale up your MQM capabilities because it will automate three areas that are incredibly time-consuming: pre-meeting scheduling (orchestrate meeting setup for attendees and ensure each has the information needed to make the meeting successful); workflow management (provide the meeting managers or marketing ops team the ability to oversee all meeting requests and confirmations, ensure relevant sales information is captured, manage meeting logistics); and post-meeting analytics (meeting and influenced revenue metrics dashboards, management of surveys to understand performance and buyer intent).
As you plan your marketing programs for 2021, think about how you might add MQMs across your multichannel digital marketing programs, both globally and regionally. By booking more virtual customer meetings, you can shorten your sales cycle and drive more solid wins out of your sales pipeline.
Ravi Chalaka is the chief marketing officer and VP of product marketing at Jifflenow, the world’s number one Meeting Automation Platform company. He is experienced in SaaS, software and enterprise IT systems from both startup and large companies with a track record of developing and executing strategies that enable companies to achieve leadership and accelerate their growth. Ravi is an expert in digital marketing, product management and marketing, branding, business development, and GTM strategies.
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