Last week I published a blog that provided five ways to avoid getting burned by outsourced B2B sales lead generation, qualification and nurturing. You can read the blog here.
In that blog, I wrote: “When the pipeline is weak, desperation and fear take over. Sales/B2B Marketing execs feel intense need to do something, but are afraid to risk budget. So, they settle for a cheap solution—which is how mediocre sales lead generation firms survive. It seems that there is always enough money to do something a second time—but never enough money to do it right the first time.”
No wonder this time of the year is filled with desperation (and fear). We’re well into the second quarter, and the CEO is clamoring for revenue. However, without more specific direction, he or she is going to find the organization enter into a familiar, frustrating cycle.
The need for sales pressures the CMO to deliver leads fast. Trouble is, that CMO is also under budget pressures, so corners are cut in the pursuit of needed sales leads. The result is low quality leads that don’t make people happy and don’t deliver the goods. The money spent is wasted and the whole scenario starts again.
The age-old problem is that:
- Sales has been conditioned to expect poor quality leads from marketing.
- Marketing complains that they do not get specific feedback from sales on leads.
- CEOs couldn’t care less about leads (they’re only worried about revenue), but they should …
What is the solution?
- CEOs need to care about lead outcomes. There’s a reason why there’s no alignment between marketing and sales. And, it can be fixed. The CEO (or in larger companies the SVP of Sales & Marketing) must ensure that there is a shared definition of a lead AND that a judicial branch is put in place to enforce marketing’s compliance with that definition AND that sales effectively executes lead follow up on leads that meet the definition. This is not just a good idea; it is a necessity. And top management must go there.
- CEOs, Marketing and Sales must enter the Era of Accountability. Marketing needs to be accountable for lead quality, and Sales needs to be accountable for follow-up activity. That means Marketing has to wait to turn over leads until they are sales-qualified—including doing all the nurture activity needed to get them there. And it means Sales has to work all the leads turned over to them, fully. In the new era, there’s no throwing raw leads over the fence and hoping for the best; and there’s no “this lead’s no good” at-a-glance judgement. It will take this kind of coming together for Marketing to get credit for their contribution to revenue, and for Sales to sell more. Here’s a slide from a deck about the Era of Accountability. You can find the deck here.
Here is an example:
The following is an example of what takes place without substantially more accountability in the Marketing and Sales process. It also points out the benefits of discipline in decision-making around marketing spend. We deal with similar situations on a regular basis:
A large healthcare solution and services provider provided us with 4,200 hospitals and 7,500 contacts. They asked us to call every contact.
As it turns out, in their target market there are only 804 hospitals that are big enough to be of interest to them (based on number of beds). Worse yet, the list they provided had less than 50% of the targeted hospitals.
Our recommendation was to fill in the gap in hospitals (provide them with the 419 hospitals that they were missing) and talk to about 1,200 people, not 7,500, because the role they were looking for was very specific.
In the end, we generated more the twice the number of leads at one-third the cost. If you want to read more, in this post I answer the question: Would you rather get 56 leads for $49,835 or 27 leads for $172,200?
Next, CEOs need to look at the effectiveness of sales lead follow up. Don’t assume your sales team members know lead follow-up best practices; don’t assume the agreed upon definition of a lead is top-of-mind; and don’t assume that the way lead deployment is handled is efficient and effective. Document the processes, and make them part of your ongoing training and communications. Here is a blog that covers the subject in detail.
The expression “desperate times call for desperate measures” is believed to have originated with a saying coined by the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates. In his work Aphorisms, he wrote: “For extreme diseases, extreme methods of cure, as to restriction, are most suitable.”
However desperate you might be, doing nothing is going to get you anywhere, and doing something on the cheap is not the answer either. Doing the right something is. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss sales close rate, cost per lead and other topics of interest to you. I promise to help.