I come across many marketing organisations that seem to believe that the more leads they generate, the better they are doing. They may even be measured and rewarded by their management on the basis of the number of leads marketing generates. But I want to show you why why focusing on quantity rather than quality is a really, really bad idea.
Take a simple but all too common example: offering an iPad in a prize draw at a trade show or exhibition in order to encourage the visitors to leave their business cards. Do you know what the single common characteristic of the people that drop their cards in the goldfish bowl is? Do you imagine it indicates any interest in your product or company? No: all you are doing is collecting a list of people who are interested in winning an iPad.
Where is that prospect hiding?
There may be a few genuine prospects lurking in that pile. But you are never going to know, because in all likelihood your sales team is going to take one look at the list and declare that they will never have the time, energy or inclination to contact them all. And in the next breath they will probably complain about how awful marketing’s “leads” always are. But in next months marketing report to the board, the fact that the show generated 2,300 leads will be judged a measure of marketing’s success. And so it goes on.
I see this scenario - and a whole raft of similar examples - being repeated in B2B marketing departments around the world. Something similar may be happening in yours. It doesn’t have to be a trade show. There are countless examples of marketing campaigns that are wrongly being measured by the quantity, rather than the quality of results generated. And it’s way past time to stop this incredible waste of effort and resources.
What does “good” look like?
The answer must be to focus instead on generating high quality leads, and to select and implement marketing tactics accordingly. You may need to educate management as to why the headline success criteria they have been used to asking for are going to have to change. You will have to work out ways of modelling and managing the end-to-end marketing and sales process as a single unified funnel. But the effort will be worth it.
What is a high quality lead? In its simplest form, it’s a lead that sales accepts and agrees to work on as a highly qualified opportunity. But in order to get to that point, you first have to establish a clearly documented agreement between sales and marketing about:
- What an ideal prospect looks like - in terms of the both the organisations and roles you choose to target
- What problems your solution offerings are best placed to solve better than any of the other options open to the prospect
- What minimum qualifying information you need to know for a lead to become a sales accepted opportunity
- How many qualified opportunities sales need to be working on each month in order to achieve your revenue goals
- What proportion of those opportunities need to be generated by marketing
A multi-step process
It’s unlikely that a single marketing campaign will achieve all of the above in one step. You will probably have to progressively profile each lead through a series of marketing touch points in order to capture the required information - and in order to get the “prospect” to a point where they are prepared to invest some of their time in meeting one of your sales people.
Without clear agreement between the marketing and sales organisations about each one of the bullet points above, you will inevitably continue to waste a significant amount of marketing effort and resources on creating contacts that are destined to go nowhere. But with such an agreement, there are now a wide range of technology based solutions from companies like Eloqua, Marketo, Hubspot and the CRM vendors that can help you capture the agreement, embed it into the way you work, and manage and measure the progress you are making.
Measuring the right stuff
Armed with the right attitudes and the right processes, marketing departments can and should be measured not on the number of lead they generate, but upon what really matters - on their contribution to revenue. By focusing on well-defined quality-based measures - such as the number of sales qualified opportunities created by marketing, the revenues that are associated with them - marketing can make intelligent, well-informed choices about which mix of marketing tactics are going to generate the highest quality outcomes.
As long, of course, as sales agrees not to keep demanding that marketing spends money on going to trade shows for which there is no evidence of any significant impact on revenue. But, of course, behaving more respectfully is all part of getting sales and marketing working together better anyway. Isn’t it?