How well do you really generate leads?

I am in a transitional phase right now, moving from one agency to another.  It’s exciting and fun but also has caused me to reflect on what I’ve accomplished with my current clients and where there is room for growth still (for me and them).  One of the topics that comes back to me over and over again is Lead Generation, when I first got into B2B marketing this phrase was the term, everyone was a Lead Generation expert, every agency and vendor did “lead generation” and therefore could make you better at it too.   My issue isn’t so much that I feel it’s a buzzword (it is) or with what it is intended to mean but more so what it doesn’t actually meant.  For every success story out in the marketplace of a company who is doing all of the right things there are four or five quietly sitting on the sidelines wishing they could join the ranks of modern marketing.

A recent study by B2B “2013 Lead Generation: Optimum Techniques for Managing Lead Generation Campaigns” bares testimony to the same sentiments, according to the study 55% of marketers only think of their lead generation efforts are average and that the means by which they measure their success remains relatively unsophisticated, 76% say their definition of a lead is a prospect asking for contact.    What happened to lead scoring?  What happened to nurturing your contacts through the buying cycle and speaking to their needs at the time it matters most?  Is it unattainable to believe in these ideals or is it just to hard to align sales to the idea of quality over quantity?

I know it has fallen out of favor to talk about marketing and sales alignment but that is the heart of the problem.  Understanding how leads are managed by sales, expectations of velocity through sales stages and the messaging sales uses to bring home the deal will help marketers better understand how their story helps drive the process home.  Having a unified definition of a lead is a great starting point.  Does sales really feel like any working email address that gets submitted when someone wants to read a whitepaper is an indication someone is ready to buy?  Not likely, now I am sure there are a few choice whitepapers that sales feels are stronger than others (hint hint: score those higher) but in general it is likely that they view a person reading a single asset as only moderately interesting.  Why not leverage the expensive and powerful automation technologies to hand them prioritized leads instead of just leads, or better yet the all important “hot” lead.  Gathering sales leaders and marketing leaders together to create a portrait of the idea lead can start the conversation towards a more aligned team and a more productive lead scoring model.

Start simple, the key to not being part of the 55% of marketers who feel like their efforts are “average” is aligning with your sales team.

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