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MQLs Are Passé – Are You Generating MQMs?

The MQM is the new marketing currency. Marketing-qualified meetings (MQM) with prospects and customers drive the sales cycle faster and increase revenue pipeline better. If you are not digitizing the last mile of your marketing campaigns that leads to more customer wins, it’s time to consider the latest marketing innovation. We are well into a game-changing transition from the world of MQLs to a world in which conversation-ready leads are the primary marketing currency. 

The game is no longer just about numbers; today’s marketing landscape is about engaging customers in more authentic ways that build trust and – ultimately – stronger relationships. This is especially important right now, and I predict it will remain so post-COVID, because digital marketing must drive the sales pipeline, which is a leading indicator of revenue growth.

Readers of this blog will be very familiar with the marketing and sales funnel, a visual representation of any prospect’s or customer’s interactions with your business. It succinctly illustrates the hypothetical journey that an unknown prospect takes from knowing nothing about a company to becoming one of its loyal customers. Equally, it can track a cross-sell or up-sell opportunity with an existing account for a new product or service. No matter how much we debate the accuracy and efficacy of the funnel, one thing is for sure: it is here to stay!

sales and marketing funnel

A typical B2B marketing & sales funnel for an enterprise company in the pre-COVID era is depicted in the above diagram. Starting with the top of the funnel, which might be a typical case where you have a hundred-thousand visitors to your events or website, along with the prospects you target in your ad campaigns. This is the awareness-generation phase of your target prospects. A company can generally expect a roughly 5% conversion rate, which in this example would result in about 5,000 leads.

The next step is to score and nurture these leads and convert them to 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 qualify these leads and then convert them into opportunities as part of the sales pipeline. 

For most B2B marketing and sales activities, 1% of leads convert to wins. In this example, starting with about 5,000 leads, one would end up with about 50 wins. Note that this metric can vary a lot based on the average selling price, type of industry, and length of the sales cycle. 

Coronavirus Has Changed The Funnel

The current pandemic crisis affects every stage in this funnel. The top of the funnel will likely be reduced because you won’t have thousands of visitors at in-person events, roadshows, and other such activities. This of course diminishes the number of leads. 

In fact, COVID-19 affects conversions throughout the funnel. This is especially true in the middle of the funnel where the handoff between a marketing-qualified lead to a sales-qualified lead happens. That’s because it’s the stage where the bulk of prospect and customer engagements happen—especially for a B2B business. It’s here where all the canceled events and activities are massively impacting those essential in-person interactions that are needed to move a lead through the pipeline funnel all the way into a hot sales opportunity. 

This is a huge problem for us marketers. As the second funnel diagram shows, even though the conversion percentages through the funnel so far seem to have dropped modestly, the number of wins drops precipitously from 50 to 20. It is just simple math; as you advance down the funnel, even a small percentage drop-off will have a huge impact on the number of wins.

converting leads covid 19

Convert More Leads Into Wins, Faster

In response, digital marketing teams at many successful enterprises are now stepping up in their game. They are focused on generating hundreds or even thousands of MQMs: marketing-qualified meetings. These teams have concluded that it is no longer sufficient to just deliver an MLQ. Certainly, MQLs are still important, but there’s no denying that you cannot afford to stop your journey at generating MQLs from raw leads. What’s needed are venues that enable that all-important interaction with the customer that is so important to educating the customer, answering questions, responding objections, and managing negotiations.

Virtual events, webinars, and almost all demand-generation campaigns can drive customer engagement strategies with qualified prospects to further their education, shape consideration, and thereby advance them along their buyer journey. For that reason, I would argue that MQMs are even more important MQLs in our current marketing climate. 

MQMs are also extremely versatile because they can be defined as a virtual CTA (call to action) across all your digital marketing programs and virtual events. Wouldn’t you rather have a customer meeting over a customer lead? 

Virtual Customer Meetings Can Take Various Forms

Consider this diagram, which illustrates the various types of B2B customer meetings that we can now handle virtually. 

virtual meeting types

So, if customer meetings with experts and executives are more valuable than leads, how can we generate more of them? In normal circumstances, when customers want to see a demo, they can see it at an event or a roadshow or a breakout session. For the foreseeable future, these activities will need to be virtual. Similarly, if a customer requests a meeting with a senior executive meeting before committing to a multi-million-dollar purchase, this can easily be handled virtually. 

The same goes for roundtables with partners, distributors, and customers, and any situation where multiple people must convene to solve problems and discuss solutions. Webinars are now one of the most powerful tools to accelerate the entire buyer’s journey, and sessions with experts are always essential to convince customers to move into a new technology or new solution. Partner meetings too are key for many companies to drive their business. All of these B2B customer meetings are strategic for your company and can be generated by integrating MQMs into your digital marketing initiatives. 

Think How Your Organization Can Generate MQMs

Here’s the bottom line: if you want to grow your revenue, you need to grow your pipeline. The higher your revenue target, the more pipeline you need in place — your pipeline is the leading indicator of revenue (which is itself a lagging indicator of your marketing success). 

The surest way to predict your pipeline is to focus on maximizing your scheduled B2B customer meetings and other interactions. In other words: MQMs drive pipeline, which in turn drives revenue.

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 if handled manually, so enterprises that are serious about MQMs 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 big time sinks: pre-meeting scheduling (orchestrate meeting set up 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, to 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).

The Jifflenow MAP is designed for the sole purpose of automating the scheduling and managing of virtual or in-person B2B meetings. Jifflenow will help you convert your virtual interactions with prospects and customers into meaningful meetings that, in turn, can help advance the sales pipeline and shorten the sales cycle. 

Learn More About Jifflenow

Ravi Chalaka

Ravi Chalaka is the CMO of Jifflenow and a Marketing and Business Development expert, who creates and executes business strategies, generating demand and raising brand/product awareness in competitive markets. As VP of Marketing at both large and small technology companies, Ravi built strong teams and brands and enabled faster revenue growth for a wide range of solutions based on Big Data, SaaS, AI and IoT software, HCI, SAN, NAS. Ravi has MBA degrees in Marketing and Finance and is an expert industry spokesperson and presenter

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