B-to-B: Lead Generation Is Broken
Ah, Saturday, and the fragrant promise of that choice T-bone you've been waiting to grill. You saunter out to the gas grill, turn the knob and get … nothing. The bolt specially designed to control the gas line has vanished. You vaguely recall tossing the extra one into a box of miscellaneous fasteners in the basement, along with at least 158 shiny, seemingly identical bolts—but only one will work. Your chargrilled beef is buried under 158 indistinguishable bits of metal that aren't quite right.
Now you know how the sales team feels.
The best of your company's salespeople are unwaveringly focused on the results. They hunger to sink their teeth into as big a bite of that steak/sale as they possibly can, but they're missing the one piece to make it happen: a bolt/lead that fits. If you give them one bolt, or even three or four, they'll test them, turn them and find the one that works. If you give them 158, they'll throw out the box and start looking for another way to cook.
This is exactly what happens with typical lead generation. About 95 percent of generated leads are not effectively pursued by the sales team because marketing, often rewarded for generating a mountain of leads, delivers large numbers of unfiltered suspects. Real leads are lost simply because there is no process to separate them from the tire-kickers and prioritize and nurture everything in between. At the core, the problem is lead management.
It's helpful to set the stage by looking at terminology and a lead progression framework. SiriusDecisions, a provider of sales and marketing advisory services, uses its "demand waterfall" to define the stages through which prospects progress:
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): A lead delivered by marketing.
Sales Accepted Lead (SAL): A lead reviewed and accepted by sales as a lead.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): A lead contacted and further qualified by sales.