Quality vs. quantity and how they affect sales opportunities.

When you walk up to a booth at a tradeshow, you don’t expect to be interrogated about who you are, which company you work for, your title, your role, your company revenue, and so on. You expect to have a meaningful, “human” conversation with smart reps who are interested in what you have to say and ready to provide you with the information you need. Ultimately, you hope to walk away with a better understanding of how they might be able to help you.

This is not an unreasonable expectation at a tradeshow. And it’s not an unreasonable expectation on a website either. Conversation marketing strategies and technologies give brands the ability to replicate helpful, organic conversations with prospects. And these kinds of conversations provide a better buyer experience that builds trust and sets the sales team up for success.

Case in Point: Oracle Kicks MQLs to the Curb

At the 2019 SiriusDecisions Summit, Dave Ewart, Oracle’s head of digital marketing and demand generation, told the story of how Oracle’s SVP of Sales said he didn’t want his sales team spending any time qualifying MQLs because it was a waste of valuable time.

Though he was new to Oracle, Dave was ready with a counter-offer. “What percentage of conversation-ready leads would you accept?” he asked.

The SVP didn’t hesitate, “100 percent.”

Over the last few years, Oracle has transformed their demand-generation model through an initiative called CoRe, which stands for Conversation-Ready. They distinguish core leads (or CRLs) from non-core leads as “qualified responses with intent to have a conversation.” The result: Oracle dramatically reduced leads being sent to the BDR and sales teams while significantly increasing
results in terms of opportunities, pipeline acceleration, and conversion rates. To be clear: fewer leads resulted in more sales opportunities. Why does this work?

1. CRLS ARE READY TO TALK.
These hand-raisers have proactively engaged the company via live chat, an 800 number telesales line, or a direct request for a trial, demo, or meeting.

2. NON-CORE LEADS ARE NOT (QUITE) READY TO TALK.
Non-CoRe leads have typically engaged in more traditional demand gen behaviors like downloading whitepapers, attending events, or signing up for newsletters or webinars. They may still be in research mode, so they are farther away from making a decision.

3. CORE LEADS CONVERT BETTER.
What’s most interesting to marketing and sales
teams alike is that there’s quite a large differential
in the conversion ratio from a core lead to a qualified opportunity with associated pipeline. CoRe leads simply convert at a much higher rate than non-core leads.

While Oracle focuses on increasing the volume of CRLs, they acknowledge that there’s a limited number of conversation- ready prospects in the market at any given time. Because of this, they continue to generate non-core leads through traditional marketing activities. These secondary leads fill the top of the funnel, and then marketing nurtures those prospects through the awareness and consideration phases of the buyer’s journey. Non-CoRe leads represent the highest volume of leads at over 80%, but their role is different. Oracle marketers no longer consider these non-core leads as ready for the handoff to sales. Instead, they focus on nurturing them to become CoRe leads that will be much more valuable to the sales team.

Your buyers don't want to be treated like MQLs.

Treat your buyers like people. Here's how conversations are transforming the marketing funnel as we know it (and what you can do about it).

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