4 Core Phases of Marketing Planning => Lead Follow up

4-Core-Promotion-Phases; core, build up, promotion and follow up

There is a lot behind each of the four terms in putting together a marketing communications plan to reach prospects.


= strategy, understanding your customer persona and customer journey, planning the 3 Cs of B2B marketing communications: channels/ media, content and campaigns

Build Up

= planning and organizing your resources and generally getting ready to reach out to B2B prospects.


= executing the marketing communications campaign, putting the creative and content out there for prospects to react to. Hitting the ‘go’ button.

Follow Up

= following up on leads and questions, analyzing metrics and data to see; what works and what needs work.

The remainder of this article explores this ‘follow up’ and the implication for your marketing and sales processes.

Follow Up

At it’s simplest B2B prospects move through your sales process along these lines:

  • Unqualified New Lead -> Working Lead -> Customer / No Customer

When Is A Lead A Lead?

And then it gets more complicated. Namely, when is a lead a lead? The answer depends on how well, if at all, this person or enquiry fits your customer persona. One function, then, of your customer persona, use it to establish a list of criteria or questions to determine if you and this prospect are a good fit.

This is the first goal of managing leads; figure out which leads are potential customers. So to develop your sales process, develop a set of questions that help you to establish your prospects’ needs and how these align with your offers. Only at the intersection of both are leads worth pursuing.

This is the critical difference between a contact, perhaps a pleasant person you met at a conference, and a lead. At some level there must be an idea that following up, with the goal of securing a customer, makes sense.

Action => To establish that follow up makes sense, identify the minimum match criteria.

Efficient Lead Follow Up And Team Coordination

Who is working the lead? The critical difference between marketing and sales is volume. Marketing manage communication that is one to many. Sales work on a one to one (1:1) basis. The resource implications (time and cost) are significant. In the early stages of organizations, sometimes all B2B leads may be worked in a one to one fashion. This has significant learning advantages and helps build understanding of prospects needs, and where your offers fit.

Ultimately the goal is to understand and address prospects information needs. A ‘customer journey map’ outlines the touchpoints where prospect explore and learn about potential solutions.

Marketing communications and processes may ‘nurture’ the person (lead) by answering all questions with marketing content communicated digitally. No sales people required. Consumer eCommerce and many SaaS B2B businesses operates on this model.

If lead follow up can’t be done exclusively using digital communications, then sales / business development people come into the picture necessitating a hand-off process from marketing communications (1 to many) to sales (1:1).

Our lead follow up expands on the ‘working lead’ stage. So we go from, our original follow up stages of:

  • Unqualified New Lead -> Working Lead -> Customer / No Customer

to a process that considers the different tools and approach of marketing communication versus sales.

  • Unqualified New Lead -> Marketing Qualified Lead (1 to many) -> Sales Qualified Lead (1:1) -> Customer/ No Customer

As we now have two different stages, both stages need to be understood by everyone involved. “This is mine. That is yours.” Expect some haggling. A good approach allows for learning from the diverse perspective/strengths of different teams, and evolves based on those learnings.

Action => Explore how marketing communications can ‘nurture’ prospects.

Action => Identify which leads require the flexibility, reflexivity or nurturing of 1:1 interaction.

Action => Identify the criteria indicates that a lead is ‘ready’, i.e. sufficiently qualified, for sales follow up.

Following Up on Sales Qualified Leads

Some situations have sufficient complexity or variability that marketing communications play small role. Working sales qualified B2B leads often has a number of different stage. As with marketing qualified leads, these stage align to your customer journey.

In an ideal world you’d map the customer journey to your lead process. This suggests you have a very mature understanding of customers and market stability. More typically this is messy. Customers moving back and forth generating new questions, and needing different answers. This is why you have a real sales person involved so they can dynamically response to individual requests for information.

As you follow up 1:1 with these leads a pattern may develop or a checklist materialise. In that case you can reflect same in your Sales Qualified Lead stages.

  • Unqualified New Lead -> Marketing Qualified Lead (1 to many) –> Sales Qualified Lead (1:1) -> Customer/ No Customer
    • Sales Qualified Lead Sub-stages: Working -> Connected -> Demo -> Free Trial

No Customer => Win: Loss Analysis

At any stage in the process, it can become clear that the pursuing further will not be fruitful. This means the lead moves out of the active pipeline. Lead stages can help capture why the lead did not come to fruition. There is an opportunity for real insights, meaning opportunities for improvement. The huge benefit here is avoiding time wasting by disqualifying leads that are in fact not opportunities. Maybe there was never a budget. Or your solution is a poor fit for the prospects need.

This ‘Win / Loss Analysis’ can provide amazing insights into what works and does not work. A word of caution, lessons learnt need to be managed constructively. Leading discussions here requires someone with tact and the ability to creating a constructive, open environment. This is not a blame game but a learning opportunity.

About Jane Morgan

With 20+ years high-tech marketing & product development experience from Boston to Billund, Berlin to Bangalore, Jane has managed teams and tech products with millions of installs, and millions of revenue (annually). She's researched and developed market strategy for global markets, and established the blueprint for product management in many new teams. As an intrapreneur turned entrepreneur, she changed vowels in 2014 and founded JEM 9 Marketing Consultancy. Today she works with CEOs & business leaders to assist them in understanding and reaching customers. Speaker on market research, technology marketing and product management.