In one of my recent posts I discussed Case Studies and how they can become a source of contention between sales and marketing, unless you have a clear mapping process in place. (i.e., marketing activities and collateral matched to each stage of the buyer’s journey).
Another area of contention between this dynamic duo can be Lead Generation. Number one issue highlighted seems to be the blurred lines between sales and marketing in recent years (largely as a result of social media/online/digital channels). Issue number two is often a lack of agreement between the two departments as to what constitutes a ‘qualified lead’ – and this topic deserves a post all on its own.
Of course this hot air and contention can be relieved by open communication and some well-placed process.
For the uninitiated reading this, Lead Generation is all about stimulating interest in your product or service amongst your target audience with the intention of drawing them into your sales pipeline/sales funnel. With this in mind, your company’s Lead Generation Strategy is something to be taken seriously.
The problem is, lead generation is the unwanted child of business – lead generation is not seen as an integral part of selling and neither is it seen as an integral part of marketing. Sales often moan about the lack of qualified leads, and marketing moans because Sales aren’t utilising what they’re given. So who should take responsibility?
So who is responsible for what?
The simple answer? Both sales and marketing are responsible for “filling the funnel”.
It’s more about when sales come into play or when marketing comes to the fore. Lead generation calls for a much more holistic approach these days. This means Marketing efforts shouldn’t just end when a lead is produced (by whatever means). The lead must be qualified and ready before handing over to Sales.
Sure, in the ‘olden days of yore’ the process of lead generation meant marketing found the names of potential buyers and passed them along to sales.
Jo Public expected a call from sales and sales expected to speak to someone who may be an early stage buyer but didn’t know much about the product or service (and may not yet be qualified).
Fast forward 30 years and buyers do their own research online and make use of all the educational resources they can find, through search engines, social media, and other online channels. In actual fact, through content resources, today’s buyer is fairly knowledgeable by the time they speak to Sales (hence the importance of a strong digital presence).
In fact, according to Forrester, buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their buying journey before they even reach a salesperson.
So for Lead Generation to work, your company may have to undertake a fundamental shift in their attitude.
The Old Hat/No No of Lead Generation
- Short term
- Mass marketing
The Fist Pump/Yes Yes of Lead Generation
- Ongoing (relationship building)
- Targeted/mapped marketing/messaging
Now that we’re clear sales and marketing are both responsible for filling the funnel, and there are endless tactics you can employ to do this, from marker research, inbound marketing, outbound marketing and telesales marketing. The goal of any tactics is to prepare the opportunity for the sales team – more commonly referred to as the Qualified Lead.
Let’s assume your organisation has already agreed upon what constitutes a qualified lead (and the amount of information you need will vary from business to business). It is only at this point it is passed to Sales – not before! It is then up to Sales to make contact, and eventually, close the deal.
The secret to success is that Sales and Marketing should be closely integrated (and not operating within the old silos of the past).
Sales must play their part by ensuring they are across company messaging, and utilising all the resources at their disposal – at the right time. This means working together to nurture leads until they become customers, then sales teams work with other arms of the business to ensure customer satisfaction and retention.
Good lead generation will typically be the result of a great Lead Nurturing Strategy – and this is where much of the mapped collateral comes in that I discussed in the Case Studies post. Lead generation, then leads onto lead management to move leads through the funnel. This combination of activities is referred to as pipeline marketing.
I’ll discuss Best Practice Pipeline Marketing in my next post. However, for those keen to get started right now, here is a taster.
- Acknowledge that your company needs to be more proactive – not reactive.
Develop a strategic mindset.
- Develop a clear, targeted plan and budget for lead nurturing, lead generation and lead management activities.
- Place lead generation on the agenda at all sales and marketing meetings and ensure it is discussed routinely.
- Develop the right tools – map marketing activities and collateral to what the customer needs to move them along the sales pipeline.
- Provide leads with value and a reason to keep reading or a reason to act on a call to action.
Tools of the Trade
I have to say discussing tactics is the part I get most excited about. Leads may come from various sources or activities, for example, digitally via the Internet, through personal referrals, through telephone calls either by the company or telemarketers, through advertisements, and events.
The three most popular online channels for lead generation continue to be direct traffic, search engines, and web referrals, accounting for 93% of leads. Is this the case with your business? Again, you should be familiar with what works for you. With over 2.5 BILLION people online, just imagine what attracting a mere fraction of these users could do for your profits and for your brand.
Before I finish up here, I just want to add a word of caution. All the tactics in the world are pointless if you can’t measure success. And to measure success you need realistic goals.
There are any number of tools out there to help you in your lead generation activities/management and measurement including Marekto and Salesforce. It’s worth doing a little research to try and stay ahead of the curve, and consequently the competition. There are so many fresh and innovative companies out there helping sales and marketers excel in this area. I have recently come across an exciting lead generation platform called Guessbox.io who are based in Melbourne. I for one think the promise of real-time, verified lead generation and more efficient marketing channels should be explored as part of a wider plan. Happy Lead Generating!
I’m in the process of collating a list of creative tactics so I’ll be sure to let you know when this is ready. In the meantime if you are new to marketing and have some questions or need some advice, you can contact me at info.eviemcrae.com or head over to my website where you may find the answers you are looking for.