Marketers have a wealth of data to understand consumer behavior, but sales professionals speak with customers and prospective customers every day. If you’re looking to get as many sales as possible from your paid lead generation efforts, don’t forget to touch base with the soldiers on the front line: your sales representatives. Become a marketing ally by starting the conversation with these 5 questions.

Don't forget to compare notes with your sales team - they talk to potential customers every day. Image via Pexels

Don’t forget to compare notes with your sales team – they talk to potential customers every day. Image via Pexels

How long is your typical sales cycle?

Understanding the life cycle of lead to deal is vital in evaluating the success of marketing strategies. If it takes 6-8 weeks for a deal to close, you’ll need to wait over 2 months to determine if a new campaign or increased budget is having an impact on bottom line revenue. Identifying the length of your sales cycles can also help inform your need for nurturing marketing strategies. Does it take 4-6 months for a deal to close? Develop or refine your retargeting and email marketing campaigns to stay on top of key prospects throughout that time frame.

How many leads can your sales team handle each month?

True or False: more leads is always better? Believe it or not, the answer is a resounding ‘False’. It’s great to maximize leads within your paid advertising budget or cost per lead goal, but a lead will only go as far as the sales team can take it. If your sales team is oversaturated with leads, you risk opportunities going stale. By asking how many leads your sales team can handle per month, you’re able to ensure paid search lead flow maximizes sales productivity.

What constitutes a qualified lead?

Are you optimizing your paid search efforts based on sales qualified leads? If so, be sure to identify what it takes for a lead to be qualified by your sales team. Do they use a lead scoring system? Is the process automated, or are their decisions subjective?

Understanding the lead qualification process can help you diagnose fluctuations in close rates and other efficiency metrics in the future. If quality leads skyrocket in a month, you may want to ramp up spend to take advantage of those results. However, if a new sales representative on the team started qualifying leads at a lower threshold than the rest of the team, that increase in budget might not be optimal for your marketing efforts. Avoid friendly fire, and follow up on qualification processes when you see large swings in lead performance.

How does lead quality from Paid Search compare to other channels?

Your sales organization fields leads from all channels (e.g. organic search, inbound calls, referral services, etc.), and has insight into which channels generate the highest quality leads. Rally the troops and learn from the successes or challenges of other marketing channels.

For example, if blog posts on scalable cloud computing produce sales qualified leads at a rate that is 10% above average, then you should consider testing paid search keywords like ‘scalable cloud computing’.

Don’t forget that you have the ability to help other channels as well. If you’ve found a keyword modifier from paid search that drives the lion’s share of your quality leads, you should suggest SEO and landing page testing opportunities based on this information.

What is some common feedback that you receive from prospective customers on the product?

What do prospective customers like about your product? Are there features people are looking for that we don’t highlight or offer? In essence, what closes or loses a deal? Once you’ve identified some common themes, use them to launch new keywords, add negative keywords, and write new ad copy focused on the specific features your prospective customers want. Paid search advertisers may have a wealth of data to predict consumer needs, but the sales team talks to customers every day and is an invaluable source of information on consumer behavior.

Not all leads are created equal, but asking these questions can help you understand how to parse out the winners. Invite your sales representatives into the War Room and see just how far your marketing efforts can go.