B2B marketers, stop focusing on generating leads. You’re wasting your time and your sales team’s time.
Now that I have your attention, here’s what you should focus on instead: helping salespeople sell.
How do you do that? By sending them only qualified leads.
Most leads aren’t qualified
Leads are only qualified when they fit your universal lead definition (ULD). Don’t have a ULD? Before you do any more lead generation, make developing one your highest priority. Start by reading this: Universal Lead Definition: Why 61% of B2B marketers are wasting resources and how they can stop.
For nearly 20 years, I have worked with hundreds of leading B2B organizations to optimize their lead-qualification efforts — this includes phoning inbound leads to find out if they are truly qualified. We have found that calling the “qualified leads” at most companies reveals that a mere 5% to 40% are ready for Sales and up to 95% are not really qualified.
However, too many B2B marketers — a whopping 61% according to MarketingSherpa’s 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report — think that filling out a Web form, downloading some information, or attending an event is enough qualification to hand a lead to Sales.
That leaves sales professionals two not-so-great options:
- Option #1 – Spend hours upon hours calling marketing leads to weed out the 5% to 40% that are ready to talk.
Ask yourself: Is this the best use of a highly compensated sales professional’s time?
- Option #2 – Disregard the leads they get from Marketing and focus on the deals they know will close. (This is the most common scenario.)
Ask yourself: When Sales ignores leads, how much potential revenue is lost? Understand that leads that aren’t ready to buy immediately represent 80% of your future sales.
Every day some kind of software emerges that will help you track customer behavior. This is certainly valuable for lead scoring and prioritizing qualification efforts, but too many marketers rely on that to do their heavy lifting.
When you really need to know all the answers, you must make human contact and speak to them directly. I have yet to find a better way to qualify a lead. In fact, I’ve talked with many of the major marketing automation providers and most have salespeople who follow-up on inbound leads with a phone call.
This human touch takes your organization’s relationship with prospects to the next level. Suddenly, you’re not an email or website anymore. You’re a real company with real people, and people buy from people.
Once you find out directly whether the prospect fits your universal lead definition, you have two excellent options:
- Option #1 – If they fit the ULD, send them to the sales team so it can do what it does best – work on closing the deal.
- Option #2 – If they don’t fit the ULD, nurture them until they do. (Want to learn more about nurturing? Take a look at this article: Lead Nurturing: Build trust, win more deals by helping prospects – not selling them.)
B2B marketing isn’t about how many names you’re getting; it’s about doing everything you can to optimize your selling time by connecting Sales with the right people in the right companies. Doing this helps your salespeople sell, makes them more productive, and earns your company more revenue.