Sometimes, just hearing the words “net new leads” makes me want to quit marketing and go live in a cave somewhere, making loincloths out of beaver pelts all while drinking slightly more “shine” then I make. In short, it drives me to want to drink myself into a shallow hillbilly grave.
As goals go, it’s no more ridiculous. Boasting about the size of your database is like boasting about how big your shoes are—neither is an indication of anything significant (believe me, I’m a size 11). Who cares how many leads you have in your database if they’re junk contacts with no chance of converting into customers.
And yet companies of every size, from small businesses to enterprises, are constantly spending their hard-won marketing dollars on acquiring new names from some company that scrapes them from some random place, so they can say, “Look how many people we emailed today!”
Um, you’re doing it wrong. All of it. List building. Data collection. Marketing in general. You’re looking for leads without bothering to find out if they’re the right leads. Unless you’re a startup, marketing isn’t a race—it’s a marathon. It’s a long, seemingly endless process during which you’ll alternate feeling great about what you’re accomplishing and pooping your pants from exertion. That’s okay. That’s normal.
Digital marketing and marketing automation in particular have somehow bred this new generation of marketers focused on lead numbers rather than important numbers, like revenue. We’ve got to nip it in the bud before this terrible travesty of poor goal-setting goes any further.
Go Back to Basics
Who is your target customer? I don’t mean what their age is, or their title or whether they’re male or female. I mean, how do they buy things? How do they build trust? What is their thinking process, their buying cycle? What are the decision triggers? What kind of information do they like to consume?
Do you know the answer to those questions? Because you should. Basics = personas. Buyer profiles. In-depth looks at your typical customer on a level that goes way deeper than surface demographics. When you know the answer to who, the how becomes a bit clearer. Otherwise, you’re doing things kinda backwards, and clearly, it’s not working, because you’re reading this article.
Let Them Come to You
Don’t be a lead stalker, buying up lists of names and marketing to people who have no idea who you are. This is the strong suit of content marketing—attracting new, interested leads with valuable content. Imagine, people asking you for more information, rather than you telling them they should look at you. Once your buyer begins seeking you out, you’ve crossed the trust bridge – that’s the golden ticket.
The only thing worse than junking up a big list of leads is tossing them over to your sales team without any effort to qualify them. Want to try something fun? Go ask your sales team how much they like it. Go ahead, I’ll be waiting when you come slinking back with your tail between your legs…
That was a nice laugh, thanks. Look, your sales team spends every moment of every day trying to get people to buy stuff from your company. Just think about how much more they could sell if all the names they got from you had actually shown a great deal of interesting during your marketing efforts.
Both sales and marketing are after the same goal – but the way that we compensate and measure marketing doesn’t allow us to get to the same place at the same time. Number of leads, like age, ain’t nothing but a number. We are looking for a different number altogether, revenue. This is why we MUST give marketing a sales quota and in order to do that we have to conduct the steps described above. The reason is simple – it allows us to speak the same language and avoid the standard gripe of marketing that they aren’t in control of the sale. If we know who the buyer is and that buyer comes to us by way of great marketing – well, that’s what I define as sales.
Quality over quantity, folks.
That’s how the game is played if you want to stick around for a while – if not, head for the woods.
Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.