The Focus on Leads is more than a Simple Campaign
Updated: Apr 27, 2021
When sales leaders think marketing, the first words usually from their mouths are we need leads. The statement is consistent in every organization. And leads are one of the most critical aspects of marketing.
Marketing is the lead engine for the organization, and our job is to build awareness of our products and service and identify prospects.
The statement from sales sounds something like this. “We need you to provide us leads.” The message seems direct but is the start of a failure to align sales and marketing. Lead generation is a two-sided conversation. Marketing can build programs and campaigns using multiple tactics, virtual meetings, online surveys, and many activities.
The questions become:
How do these lead campaigns fit into our overall business strategy?
Are you as a sales leader aligned to the program goals and outcomes?
Are we generating the right leads for the right products or services?
Who is going to follow up in the lead?
What are the feedback loop and nurture process for poorly qualified leads?
My point is that lead generation is a joint effort, not just a marketing activity. Marketing is the execution arm of the organization, but sales play a huge part in moving a lead to an opportunity. A lead is a sign of interest by a prospect, not an invitation to close a deal or sign a purchase order. It is an opening for a salesperson to start a conversation and a sales cycle. Marketing’s goal is to warm a prospect to begin the conversation. We create momentum for a sales cycle. If it were a closing activity, why do we need salespeople?
You can say, stop your whining, John. But too often, sales leaders state that marketing does not provide quality leads. The converse question is, why are the leads not of good quality? As a sales leader, did you help define the campaigns, target solutions and align to the follow-up program? Leads are a priority, and aligning to the process will ensure a stream of quality conversations.
A portion of these leads will convert into opportunities, and these metrics are critically important to both sales and marketing. Lead conversion metrics help the organization predict the level of activity and investment in marketing required to support the sales efforts. Like sports, the percentage of free throws, passes completed, goals scored, or kills, is a predictor of how many attempts are required to generate success.
As marketers, we keep score and measure everything. Some tactics work better than others, depending on the circumstances and the level of execution. The marketing sausage making is more complex than ever. Like our sports analogy, marketing, like sales, monitors progress and makes corrections to get the best result. As sales leaders, understanding the metrics helps you align to the program ROI and future success.
If you are too busy as a sales leader to engage marketing for lead generation, you will miss a significant opportunity to grow your business. I have worked with many sales leaders who aligned to marketing and helped construct lead generation campaigns to drive future revenue. And some who believe marketing is wholly responsible for lead generation and failed to collaborate and commit in the process.
My experience tells me the former outperformed the latter, and the results are proof.
Generating leads is a top priority for most organizations. As sales and marketing professionals, we need to treat them as an essential part of our jobs. A mature demand generation process reduces the revenue peaks and troughs. Carving out time to focus on the marketing program pays dividends and eliminates the sales and marketing divide.