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Why Can’t Marketing Deliver Better Sales Leads?!?!

Many of our subscribing organizations are structured in such a way that a separate Marketing or MarCom function is responsible for generating leads to be served up to the sales team. While in most cases, Marketing is not the exclusive source of sales leads, the efficacy of this function…or lack thereof…can still affect sales performance to a significant degree.

This arrangement has driven a number of questions through the SellingBrew Playbook Help Desk. Each situation and question is unique, of course. But there is a common theme I can paraphrase:

“How do we get Marketing to deliver better sales leads?”

In truth, the question is sometimes presented in terms of “more” leads rather than “better” leads. But when we drill down a bit, we usually find that “more” is just the subscriber’s assumed remedy to overcome the fact that the current lead flow isn’t getting the job done.

In any case, we would first remind everyone to refrain from blaming any of the individuals involved. As we’ve discussed repeatedly over the years, individuals are rarely the primary cause of ongoing problems. And with a typical Marketing function, there are a number of systemic forces at work that would pose a challenge for nearly anyone, including:

  • Imprecise targeting criteria and definitions. Very often, Marketing is operating with little or no insight into exactly which types of prospects and opportunities are best to attract. And as a result, they end up casting a very broad net that can’t help but scoop up less-than-ideal leads.
  • Weak and generic differential value cases. It’s not uncommon for Marketing to be flying blind with respect to segment-specific evaluation criteria and value-drivers, critical points of competitive differentiation, ramifications and implications, etc. Thus, their messages to the market inevitably end up being full of fluffy platitudes and meaningless bromides.
  • Improper or ineffective measures and metrics. In many cases, you’ll find Marketing using measures and metrics that are oriented toward quantity rather than quality. For example, with little else to go on, Marketing may be relying on cost-per-lead metrics to evaluate various campaigns and lead sources—which can’t help but drive down lead quality.

When you understand and acknowledge the systemic root causes that may be at work, you’re in a much better position to help improve the quality of the sales leads coming from Marketing.

For example, you can provide Marketing with more information about the most advantageous types of prospects and opportunities, so they know exactly who to pursue. You can make sure that Product Management is providing Marketing the customer research and competitive analysis necessary to develop and deliver compelling and highly differentiated messages into the marketplace.

You can also help Marketing establish much more effective metrics and measures. Leverage your data to help them understand the different performance and profitability profiles of various types of leads. Use your LTV data to help them establish more accurate acquisition-cost thresholds and targets. And take steps to close the data loop between Marketing’s lead generation efforts and the resulting sales/financial performance.

The point is that poor quality leads are just a symptom. And to fix the problem once and for all, you need to address the underlying root causes.

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