An industry friend of mine referred to his wife (on Facebook) as “pulchritudinous”. I figured he was going to be looking forward to a number of nights on the couch or in the spare bedroom. He was not, and I was surprised. More on that toward the end of this article.
“The leads are weak!” If you don’t remember the interaction between a young Jack Lemmon and younger Alec Baldwin in the 1992 classic, Glengarry Glenn Ross, find it and watch it. What a perfect example of the disconnect between marketing and sales over the perceived quality of “marketing leads” today.
I will never forget working with the CMO of a cloud company who was very frustrated with his sales counter-parts because no matter what he provided to them in the way of leads they were never satisfied. Finally, somewhat tongue in check, he offered sales management the following choices regarding spending a $100,000 budget to generate leads:
- 200,000 targeted contacts (name and title) in the right verticals (no email addresses)
- 100,000 companies with up to three executive contacts in the right companies (no email addresses)
- 20,000 companies with multiple contacts and verified technical environment information in the right companies (no email addresses)
- 4,319 contacts who downloaded a white paper but may or may not be in targeted companies or have any need or authority to buy (email addresses, many bogus and no company firmographics and no telephone numbers)
- 117 appointments with people in the right companies but may or may not have any need or authority to buy
- 81 highly qualified sales opportunities with the right contact(s) who have a need backed by some form of compelling event and complete contact information for the multiple contacts.
He was trying to make a point with his offer. His point was that he was happy to provide sales with whatever they would accept and take action on. However, if sales treated highly qualified sales opportunities as though they were random contact names he was not willing to spend the money to filter down the 200,000 name list to 81 highly qualified sales opportunities. Sales could not make a decision, he left for another opportunity and the company’s stock is down from a high of $10 earlier this year to just above $2.00 today.
Brian Carroll has been talking about something he calls a Universal Lead Definition (ULD) for almost a decade. A ULD clarifies what a lead is to everyone in your organization, and these leads also:
- Fit the profile of your ideal customer
- Have been qualified as sales-ready
- Spell out the responsibilities and accountabilities of Sales and Marketing
- Make Marketing and Sales more efficient
Brian’s blog continues:
“ULD doesn’t need to be complex. Here’s an example from one of our past research partners, an $80 billion IT management organization.
An inquiry becomes a lead when it:
- Fits the target customer profile (industry, revenue, number of employees, etc.)
- Has interest from a decision maker
- Needs what the company sells
- Plans to evaluate the solution in three months or less
- Plans to make a purchase decision in six months or less
- Is ready to speak with a sales rep within two weeks
Setting and using this definition brought a 375% increase in sales-ready leads without an increase in spending.”
In my book, “The Truth About Leads” I suggest that the lack of a universal lead definition (agreed upon by marketing and sales) results in the following conditions suffered to some degree by every company:
- Forecasts are thin and inaccurate
- No closed loop to measure the effectiveness of marketing programs
- No consensus regarding marketing and sales strategy, including what I call M2O (market, media and offer).
So, if you are a senior executive in any size company the bad news is “the leads are weak.” The good news is the problem is fixable:
- Establish a universal lead definition (agreed to by marketing and sales and probably NOT based on BANT [budget, authority, need, timeframe] or ANUM [authority, need, urgency, money]). If you want to know why no BANT or ANUM, reach out to me to discuss.
- Establish an unbiased review team to examine EVERY lead that is not proactively accepted or is proactively rejected by sales and fix what is broken. I call this the judicial branch.
One final note in this discussion: It’s important to note that lead definition is not something to be done once and checked off the list. It’s a continuous process to assure that market trends, changes in the competitive landscape and your evolving offerings are taken into account.
Finally, what is a “pulchritudinous lead”? First the definition of the word:
Definition: physically beautiful
About the word: If the meaning of this word seems counterintuitive, it’s probably because the word’s Latin ancestor pulcher (“beautiful”) is unfamiliar, and pulchritudinous sounds more disgusting than enchanting.
But Richard Burton used it to describe his first impression of Elizabeth Taylor: “… the most astonishingly self-contained, pulchritudinous, remote, removed, inaccessible woman I had ever seen.”
So, go make some beautiful leads and as Alec Baldwin says in Glengarry Glen Ross, “Coffee is for closers.” So, get to work until you earn a cup.