Does this sound familiar?
“Our last campaign generated loads of leads! Why haven’t any of them become opportunities?.”
“HUNDREDS of people clicked on our ad! Why is no-one signing up for a demo?”
“We delivered a record number of MQLs to the sales team last quarter! So why aren’t they using them?”
If it does, you’re not alone. Clients come to our door with problems like this all the time — the high of an influx of leads from the latest marketing campaign, quickly replaced by frustration and disappointment when none of them want to talk to sales.
We call it the sugar rush.
Sugar rush leads happen when instant gratification takes precedence over long term strategy.
We’re going to explore how to spot when you’re headed for a sugar crash and change your approach to capture leads that actually feed your revenue.
So, what’s going wrong?
Sugar rush leads happen when sales and marketing both separately pursue short term tactics in the name of quickly building new revenue.
Sales focus on chasing down purchase-ready leads to close deals quickly, while marketing runs short-term one-off demand gen campaigns to drum up some MQLs.
But short-term demand gen campaigns capture broad, preliminary interest — not the piping hot opportunities Sales need right now. So when Marketing passes on a stack of passingly-curious MQLs, Sales dismiss them as bad leads (instead of nurturing them as the early opportunities they are).
Sugar rush leads can actually be worse than no leads at all. At least when marketing fails completely, sales have license to spend their time doing what’s worked for them in the past, even if it is just infinite cold calling.
But sugar rush leads take time to qualify. They look credible, but there’s nothing there yet — a passing interaction imbued with false meaning and buying readiness.
This isn’t just an enormous waste of sales’ time — it hurts the sales-marketing relationship more than if marketing went back to making datasheets.
This disconnect between marketing and sales can be distilled into two main issues:
Issue #1: Sugar rush leads aren’t sales ready
The majority of short-term campaign leads aren’t ready to speak to a salesperson. That’s because marketers don’t put clicks in context.
Say two people click through to a piece of content — one from an off-site ad, and one from an organic search. Those are two very different kinds of intent that imply two very different stages of buying readiness.
But sugar rush marketers treat them equally (and lose credibility with Sales as a result). Let’s look at some common examples of this dynamic at work:
1. Content syndication & programmatic media
Syndicated content and programmatic ads live on other brand’s websites. So when someone clicks on republished content or a programmatic ad, they’ve stumbled across your brand in the wild (vs. actively seeking you out).
If anything, you’ve (successfully) distracted them from whatever they were actually doing. That’s a great start — but it’s hardly a piping-hot sales opportunity. At least not yet.
2. Promoted LinkedIn ads & other paid socials
Like syndication and programmatic media, content promoted through paid socials isn’t something leads have asked for. They probably come into contact with it while searching through for other things or just mindlessly scrolling.
They might be aware of your brand, but they weren’t actively seeking you out. Maybe they’re engaging with your content to educate themselves on how to solve an issue related to your offering. That’s great! But you’ve got to nudge them further down the funnel before they’re ready to have a productive conversation with a sales person.
3. Google ads / PPC
These leads are slightly more valuable than the previous two because the context (relevant Google searches) implies higher intent.
Someone Googles a specific issue they’re trying to fix and bam, there you are.
In this scenario they might already know your brand — they could even know how your solution maps to their specific need — but they’re only just starting their buying journey with you and still aren’t far enough down the funnel to engage with sales.
4. Organic socials
You can generate short-term campaign leads that are willing to talk to sales. And ironically they’re the ones that come at the lowest cost-per-lead.
It comes back to context. If someone is engaging with the content you post to your socials, or enquiring directly through search engines or your website, you can assume a high-degree of intent.
They’ll probably have a specific project on their desk and know the right person at their company to get buy-in from. In this case, they’re already far enough down the funnel to speak to sales.
Issue #2: You don’t have the tools to turn sugar rush leads into real sales
Here’s the thing — sugar rush leads aren’t bad — they’re just under-nurtured.
With the right tools and processes, you can metabolize sugar rush leads into meaningful opportunities.
But there are some common obstacles to overcome.
- Marketing needs to work with sales to understand how campaigns and leads fit into their schedule.
- Sales are rarely trained on how to treat campaign leads differently from direct enquiries — hence they tend to prioritize their own leads.
- Marketers often prioritize getting new leads in over nurturing leads you already have to the sales-ready stage.
- Your budget is limited. Which often dictates the tools and time you have to convert and nurture leads.
Things you can do to improve the process
We’ve developed some essential steps that can change your blueprints to make sure you avoid the trap of sugar rush leads..
1. Be more explicit on how different channels drive different results
It’s easy to rely too much on tactics like content syndication to drive high volumes of leads quickly and cheaply.
You don’t want to rule out channels like this where appropriate, but you need to understand the long-term implications for optimizing strategies for quick turnaround results:
After the sugar rush, clients don’t ask for leads, they ask for deals and revenue.
2. Set clear expectations on what campaigns can achieve with the resources you have
It’s time to get crystal clear on the outcomes and timelines for achieving results.
You need to explain the nature of campaign leads, their source, why they need different tactics or longer nurture journeys and when more involvement from sales is needed.
3. Develop more best practices on sales and marketing alignment
You can help clients see how Sales & Marketing alignment is an ongoing process that requires work across multiple areas (technical, process, documentation and content).
We’re doing this for some of our clients already. We regularly set up workshops to propose actions to better align clients’ marketing and sales teams so they can manage short-term leads more effectively.
4. Recommend new content
You should be constantly expanding your format horizons to help create more sales-ready leads.
Nurture sequences and case studies are a great place to start when building campaigns that can result in more sales-ready leads.
5. Explain how short-term campaigns relate to always-on strategies
Clients often request strategies for short-term goals through one-off programs.
But, it’s important to encourage clients to think about the long-term impact, and how their programs can help build a stronger funnel with interconnected elements.
The always-on funnel: A great solution to the sugar rush of one-off, short-term leads
From now on, we’re encouraging an always-on approach to our client’s campaigns.
The leads you get from short-term campaigns aren’t bad leads. But if you generate a bunch of interest at the top of the funnel without giving anyone a reason to progress (and ultimately, speak to Sales) you haven’t got leads so much as passers-by.
An always-on model, on the other hand, takes a longer view from the beginning. You start in the same place — by generating demand at the top of the funnel. But then you put those clicks in context, and follow-up with relevant next steps, using content to nurture leads from the initial brand awareness stage, through down to demand gen, and then onto specific use cases.
So when sales get involved, leads are much more qualified and ready to buy (or at least talk about it).
Instead of the short-term, one-off campaigns that leave sales in the lurch, imagine having smaller, but regular interactions that build trust and keep you in touch with more willing customers all the time?
It means you’re always in the mix when your customers are looking. And because you’re constantly around, they get to know you better and like you more.
And the more you interact, the more you understand them. You get to see what they like, what they don’t and when they are most likely to buy.
You can use all this info to make your future campaigns even better.
We’ve already seen the difference this makes. For example, switching to an always-on model for one of our clients has increased leads progressing to sales by 700% with a 359% ROI. compared to sugar rush-fueled short-term campaign leads.
Want to have a chat about how we could help you get an always-on campaign started and beat the sugar rush of short-term marketing?
Give us a bell.
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