B-to-B: Lead Generation Is Broken
In the press to close more new business, many companies—caught up in "we need leads" fervor—turn to marketing automation to deliver more leads, citing a lower cost per lead than outbound initiatives. I have several concerns about this approach.
When I have conversations about marketing automation, many executives acknowledge they don't factor the cost of generating inquiries into the equation. And we continually hear from clients that deals originating from marketing automation tend to be smaller than deals that come from outbound lead generation programs.
But by far, my main concern is marketing automation is driving larger volumes of so-called leads that are not fully qualified, and yet are still prematurely passed to sales.
The reasons why the basic B-to-B process of lead generation is broken are:
1. No standardized lead definitions between marketing and sales;
2. Not improving lead quality and follow-up;
3. Focusing on quantity over quality;
4. Not measuring what matters; and
5. Not allowing sales to pass leads back to marketing for additional nurturing.
All of these issues create poor results; including most sales executives missing quotas. In fact, quota attainment has dropped every year since 2006—when 65 percent of all reps made quota—to a projected all time low of fewer than half of all sales reps making quota in 2010.
How can businesses best address the lead management problem and its root causes? Here are two key steps to take.
1. Create a dedicated lead qualification and nurturing group. Fill the gap between marketing and sales with a dedicated group—either internal or external. This provides the resources needed to take existing market curiosity, sharpen it by exposing underlying pressure points, whet interest with repeated contact, file away unqualified prospects and point sales toward only the most potent opportunities.