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Fear not! Think like a savvy investor with lead generation

This morning I was talking to a marketing leader about his demand generation strategy and he brought up some concerns he had about the economy and its potential impact on him and others.

Can you blame him?

In years past, marketing has been favorite target for cuts by CFOs and CEOs as they look to conserve cash and reinforce their balance sheets for tough times.

I’m less concerned about budget cuts and more interested in opportunities for him and other B2B marketers who choose to bring focus to their marketing efforts. We have to remember that regardless of the economy, sales people are still expected to perform. I seldom find sales quotas are lowered to fit the news headlines.

If you want to flourish regardless of the economic conditions, you need to look for ways to help your sales team execute and improve performance.

I’m convinced that one of the best ways to do that is to focus on lead generation. Yesterday, I read a Kate Maddox’s article in BtoB Magazine, “IDC: Tougher times for tech marketing,” which supports that other B2B marketers are doing just that.

Much like a savvy investor who buys when the market is down, smart marketers can capitalize on this opportunity (and beat competitors), by bringing focus and attention to their lead generation efforts.

Maddox’s article highlights IDC’s recent tech marketing barometer research. IDC showed that fewer tech marketers are increasing their budgets this year compared to last year. But I think the bigger story is how those dollars are being allocated. Maddox writes, “According to the [IDC] report. Lead generation is the top marketing priority for tech marketers this year…”

According to studies, the single biggest issue for contemporary business-to-business marketers is effective lead generation.  Conversely, it has been pointed out that 80% of marketing expenditures on lead generation and collateral are wasted because the leads are ignored by salespeople.

For this reason, marketers should direct their budgets away from traditional awareness building campaigns that quickly eat up budget and instead expand and optimize lead generation programs that bring measurable results. Finding better tools and processes for managing the leads or inquiries that they already have is also a good investment in a turbulent economy.

You will optimize lead generation immediately if you can honestly answer “yes” to all of the following questions:

• Do sales and marketing agree on what the word “lead” means?
• Are you tracking the conversion rates of leads to sales opportunities?
• Can you/Do you close-the-loop on all leads that are being passed to sales?
• Does your sales team pass back early stage or “cold” leads back for lead nurturing?

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