A Love-Hate Relationship: Sales, Marketing and Lead Generation
As Valentine’s Day approaches, you are probably experiencing some warm, fuzzy feelings. Well, get ready for some more because it’s about time we squashed the ever-present rift between marketing and sales and replace it with a little lovin’. How? Lead generation. As a marketer, I try to think about what it is I can do to please my sales team; they do close the deals after all. A good marketer knows that LEADS are what makes the sales team happy, but a great marketer knows that GREAT leads are really get the sales team going. A great marketer also knows that nothing makes a sales person more upset than when you deliver an “MQL” (marketing qualified lead) that isn’t actually qualified. They would rather receive no leads than a slew of leads that don’t convert. Marketers do a wide array of tasks every day, from event planning to design to advertising to email marketing, but a sales person typically dials all day and they hustle in ways that a marketer surely cannot. They plan their day of calling and get excited about closing deals, but then they call through 10 leads that are not qualified. They just wasted a LOT of their time, all because marketing delivered a bunch of unqualified leads. Not to mention the fact that marketing executives will be recognized for providing leads to sales regardless of the quality whereas sales will only be recognized if they close deals.
It isn’t fair to the sales team, so let’s figure out a way to get them the leads they need so we can all be happy…and loving…‘tis the season after all.
The starting point is always going to be DATA. If your organization’s database is outdated then you are not only marketing to invalid email addresses but you are missing out on serious opportunities. Imagine the hundreds and thousands of outdated contacts that just need to be updated with new information. There are quite a few data providers and data management companies on the market, but be sure you know and trust anyone that so much as thinks about touching your data. It is also important to enrich your data with more data. You might be thinking, “I validate all of my emails regularly and all of my database is regularly updated so my database is good to go.” Well, no its not. You’d have the basics but you wouldn’t have enriched data. Learn more about the contacts in your database, segment it and then you can deliver content that is actually meaningful and relevant to them; they’ll be much more likely to give your marketing the time of day. Use the title and industry fields strategically so you don’t generate unqualified leads for your sales team. Reach the decision makers!
The next step to great lead generation is something that goes along with my ‘lovey-dovey’ Valentine’s Day theme: nurturing. When someone shows a little bit of interest, lets say a click or a webinar registrant; don’t pass it along to sales right away. Marketing is a whole new world and so are b2b buyers. They don’t want to be called by a sales person because they clicked and email or perused a website; before I select a vendor its not because they called me one day and I immediately agreed to give them my money – its because I’ve spent hours on their site, checking out their competitors, reading reviews and educating myself with the resources they have made available. We’ve all heard the good ole 67% stat, that 67% of a buyer’s journey is done digitally. Just let that resonate for a minute………………So nurture your leads, take care of them, provide them with useful tools and resources, teach them about your product/offering, don’t shove it down their throat. When its time, they’ll come to you and that’s how you’ll know that your nurturing is paying off…with some serious lead generation.
If you JUST address cleaning/enriching your data and nurturing your leads, you’re already on a healthy track to generate quality leads. It doesn’t have to take months and months to make this work; start with your data, tweak your messaging so that it is relevant, and then nurture your leads with helpful resources instead of cheesy promos and desperate attempts for business. There will always be some friction between sales and marketing but as soon as you start thinking about how to help sales by using marketing as the vehicle, the love will only grow from there!