Lack of clarity and erroneous assumptions about demand generation, lead management and marketing automation are effectively addressed in two recent Software Advice whiteboard videos by Carlos Hidalgo, CEO, Annuitas Group, and Executive Director, Marketing Automation Institute.
In part one, Carlos differentiates between demand generation strategies and lead management processes. Successful demand generation strategies fill the sales funnel with the right prospects and engage them correctly so they progress from marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales accepted leads (SALs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs).
When these qualified leads start to leak out of the sales funnel, it’s usually because an effective lead management process is missing. Developing and implementing a solid lead management process ensure that qualified leads are managed correctly and that they don’t drop out of the sales funnel.
In part two, Carlos tackles head-on a prevailing and incorrect perception that marketing automation is the be-all, end-all solution to demand generation and lead management challenges. He correctly notes that neither marketing automation nor any technology is capable of delivering effective demand generation strategies and lead management processes. He adds that it can enable and support these two areas by helping with content marketing, lead nurturing, and lead qualification.
This way that Carlos puts marketing automation in perspective—as an enabler rather than a Holy Grail technology solution—is a critically important takeaway. As I was writing this post, I came across a blog with a painful recounting of an implementation that went awry for reasons that included exactly what Carlos discusses.
In Marketing Automation - A Failure, Joby Blume shares a detailed look at the many factors that contributed to an implementation failure at a previous employer. It’s as if some of the reasons were pulled directly from Carlos’ videos:
- Missing demand generation strategies to attract visitors
- Nonexistent lead management processes
- Lack of alignment between marketing and sales
- Lack of clarity about marketing automation objectives
- Not enough of the right content
- Underestimating the resources and time needed to succeed
It’s a good read partly because of the follow-up comments from vendors, industry consultants and marketing professionals. And the consensus is clear: marketing automation will succeed as an enabler only after hard work is completed on underlying marketing and sales objectives, strategies and processes.
I would add to this discussion one other cautionary comment. In our work executing outbound lead generation programs for companies with high investment, complex offerings, we saw some trending last year whereby sales was actually taking marketing dollars and relying on marketing automation to send out emails to drive response. The expectation was that sales could depend on this activity to drive qualified leads, but the reality was that most responses came from lower-level decision makers and resulted in smaller deal sizes.
An important part of demand generation strategy is recognizing and applying the correct balance of outbound and inbound marketing initiatives for your specific solution. I take a more detailed look at this in my blog, Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing: What’s the Right Lead Generation Mix?
I appreciate Carlos’ thoughtful perspectives on clarifying the roles of and relationships between demand generation strategies, lead management processes and marketing automation…objectives, strategies and processes first, then enabling technology.
By Dan McDade