MarketingSherpa recently posted an article about a presentation by Brian Carroll on its B2B Marketing Summit 2010. Carroll is author of the book "Lead Generation for the Complex Sale" and works at MECLABS, the owner of MarketingSherpa. He gave a presentation with a phased plan to optimize the efficiency of the sales funnel, amongst others through alignment between sales and marketing. A necessity because there is a lot of room for improvement on the level of l ead generation, certainly in this area.
According to MarketingSherpa's recently published 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, lead generation is an absolute challenge. In the study the company found that 78% of the respondents indicated the generation of high-quality leads as a top priority.
Let's go through some of the steps that Carroll prescribes:
1. There must be a general applicable consensus concerning when a lead can be called "sales-ready"
Carroll points out -quite justly - that within companies and especially between sales and marketing, the concrete definition of a "lead" is often wrestled with. He advises marketers to understand exactly what sales needs to be able to sell. Or in other words: the definition of a sales-ready lead is function of…sales. But, at the same time the definition also requires a consensus. Or in other words: agreements must be made between both divisions. This does not only apply for the definition of leads but also for the structure of follow-up processes throughout the entire funnel. From then it is the task of marketing to filter the leads depending on the agreements and processes.
2. Take care of lead nurturing until a lead is ready to be passed on to sales
This step is quite obvious. Lead nurturing is a multi-channel process of a gradual strengthening of interactions and relationships with potential clients by means of "value", obviously in function of the 'lead'. Carroll emphasized that this should happen from an early phase and that it is important to offer content in function of time, as determined by the lead's triggers and signals. Apart from content, the context and the multichannel selection of channels also plays an important role, a theme that we have often emphasized on this blog.
3. Transferring a lead from marketing to sales
Everyone knows that a lead is transferred to sales if it is …"sales-ready" and as said it is important to have agreements and processes regarding this. Carroll points out that the phase of the transfer of the lead itself is also important and should be agreed upon as well, whereby amongst other a consensus regarding "lead ownership" are crucial.
Furthermore, the author stated justly that companies with an efficient sales and marketing organization are companies where there is good communication between both, something that in practice is still lacking often.
In short: communication, procedures, appointments and regular meetings between sales and marketing to constantly monitor the efficiency of the lead management process and to remove possible obstacles are crucial.
It all seems very logical but in fact very often it is not. And if the internal communication and processes are not good it is often also the case for external interactions with clients and leads…
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