Brian Carroll

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools around the world. She is past chair of the DMA Business-to-Business Council, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain's BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM and holds an MBA from Columbia University.

Ruth is a guest blogger at Biznology, the digital marketing blog. Email Ruth at ruth@ruthstevens.com, follow her on Twitter at @RuthPStevens, or visit her website, www.ruthstevens.com.

In our fast-changing marketing world, a smart B-to-B practitioner keeps up to date by learning from thought leaders. While this used to mean reading business books and magazines, today it means blogs. We've all heard the stats about blog proliferation. A new blog launched every six seconds—or whatever. And there is no dearth of blogs on B-to-B marketing. So I would like to share my favorites, the blogs where I find inspiration, new ideas, and provocative stories, to keep the gray matter humming.

Ask most executives and marketers what salespeople need to sell in this economy and they will say, "more leads." That’s why many marketing and lead generation programs tend to focus on quantity. Unfortunately, as little as 5 percent to 15 percent of all marketing inquiries turn out to be truly sales-ready opportunities. Marketers that really want to help sales perform better will focus on higher-quality leads that have better odds of converting into pipeline opportunities and customers; however, according to MarketingSherpa's data, generating “high-quality leads” is the B-to-B marketer’s No. 1 challenge.

The Tug of War Persists At the outset let me state that Brian Carroll’s article, “What’s a Lead?” (November 2006) is one of the best [pieces of] writing I have read in recent time. I head the marketing [department] for a $200 million company and am directly responsible for marketing for the Americas revenues. The Americas geography of my company contributes over $100 million in revenues to the corporation, and my team supports the sales efforts in lead generation and branding. I could not agree more with your points on the tug of war [between sales and marketing] and was able to relate to every point/step mentioned

A recent report by Aberdeen Group, Sales Effectiveness: Helping Sales Sell, concludes: “The number one issue for most CEOs and marketers is lead generation—getting more leads to their sales team.” The number one desire for salespeople, however, is more selling time with sales-ready opportunities. You must realize that the extreme time pressure salespeople face—especially those with a complex sale—requires them to ignore what is not immediately relevant and highly likely to produce revenue. Why? They are not paid to do anything else. And that makes quality more important than quantity to them. If you are in marketing, are you currently sending your sales team

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