Leads are the bloodline of any organization. Without them, the body starts to run cold and revenues dry up. But all too frequently, we hear marketers talk about “the solution.” “It’s simple, we’ll just generate more leads!” Seems logical, right? Well, not so fast! Aggressive lead gen efforts on their own may cause a heart attack! Lead gen, without the proper mechanisms in place to handle those leads, will cost you a lot of money and will often net the same result as having no leads.
There is no doubt that driving traffic and consistent lead generation activities are necessary, but those are just parts of the equation. Successful sales and marketing organizations that have started making the shift from simple lead generation to qualified lead generation must also ensure they have a lead-flow process in place to manage those leads.
Let’s look at a typical scenario.
As marketers, we spend a lot time generating leads, but what does it mean to truly qualify a lead? It means that you have to narrow your funnel by transforming that long list of cold prospects into short list of warm and hot prospects who are at a stage in their buying process where they are ready to have a conversation with you. Marketing is in charge of starting the conversation and fostering a 1:1 engagement, where success is dependent on addressing the prospect in their preferred channel(s) and with content that relates to them and helps them solve their challenges.
Now that you have qualified that lead, what next? The assumption is that sales is going to take the newly-minted, qualified lead and attack it with the fervor of a lion chasing a gazelle. You would think that would be the case, given that sales makes their living off of converting quality leads to new business. But that doesn’t always happens. To the contrary, I talk with dozens of marketers everyday, and often hear a similar story: “Once we pass the lead to sales, we don’t know what happens to it.” Or, “the leads we are passing to sales are getting rejected, and they are not happy.” My first question back to them is, “does sales agree with your definition of a qualified lead?” And the conversation will usually continue, “What a minute. What did you just say? You mean we should be talking to sales?” Yes! Talk to sales. Align with sales. Get an agreement in place, not only for how a qualified lead is defined, but, more importantly, what happens to a lead once it is passed to sales. There are key questions that must be answered in order to define this process. Here are a few:
Has marketing and sales agreed on the definitions of a “qualified lead?”
What is the expectation for sales to follow up on a lead?
What happens when a lead falls out of the sales process, how does marketing know to re-engage?
Without these questions, and more, answered, organizations are left with guessing or worse, trying to spend their way to success. Too many times, we come across organizations who went out and bought Marketo (or another automation tool), only to realize that, without a defined process to automate, they more or less just spent a wad of cash on an email broadcast system. Avoid that mistake by creating the process first. It should be a no-brainer and it can start in marketing. After all, in today’s world, the pressure on marketing to demonstrate a measurable impact on revenue is ever-increasing and without a process in place to measure and understand what is happening to the leads you are generating, your next visit may be to the coroner.
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.