I wrote the book The Truth About Leads because I wanted to reach senior executives, in companies big and small, with the truth about what is going on in their company and what to do about it.
The preface outlines the current state of affairs in many, if not most, companies:
- There is no agreement on the definition of a qualified lead.
- Forecasts are thin and/or inaccurate.
- There is no closed loop to measure the effectiveness of marketing programs.
- There are no processes to track anything other than the number of leads generated, their cost and total revenue.
The purpose of this article is to provide a high-level recap of the most important recommendations from the book followed by three actions I recommend all companies take in 2014.
Observations and Recommendations from “The Truth About Leads”
Chapter two addresses the gap between marketing and sales and provides (on pages 21 – 22) a five-step process for closing that gap. Excerpting from those two pages:
- Don’t keep spending on marketing when the results are unknown
- Start new programs by TESTING—crawl, walk, run
- Pinpoint your market
- Test the market, media and message—frequently
- Measure what matters—hint: that is NOT cost per lead
Chapter five reveals how many, if not most, companies fail to turn raw leads into real opportunities because they give up too soon. The chapter also includes the attributes of a well-qualified lead including: vertical, firmographics, decision-making matrix and process, environment, engagement, pains or needs uncovered, timeframe and budget indicated by a sense of urgency and the competitive landscape.
Chapter eight is a packed nine pages with detailed recommendations around deployment, monitoring & managing and coaching & counseling—the “art” of sales management. It also includes a detailed check-list covering how to tell if you have a real deal. In summary:
- Is it a real deal based on application, urgency and economic justification?
- How do we stack up (realistically)?
- Can we win (or are we too late—such as RFP’s that are usually column fodder exercises)?
- Do we want to win (can we make money, is this a strategic, good deal)?
Actions for 2014
After looking back at 2013 – I recommend the following three actions:
- Get better at prospecting: Today, marketing departments are focused on the number of leads and cost per lead whiles sales reps are focused on revenue. In one case we have a client that pays $23.15 per lead and buys thousands of them. They know that sales reps ignore all of these leads because only 1.28% of them are qualified—but it is still “too important a source of leads” (read: otherwise I won’t make MY number and get MY bonus) to not buy them. Geez. Kurt Andersen, executive vice president of sales enablement and marketing for SAVO, the market leader in sales enablement says it best: “With 80 percent of marketing leads not advancing, it’s clear that sales needs more than just contact details once a lead transitions from their marketing automation solution to their CRM pipeline. Sales enablement is the missing cog in your sales and marketing machine.”
- Get better at nurturing: A large percentage of leads that are not immediately interested in your product, solution or service could well be qualified and interested in a relatively short period of time. Most of the value of marketing campaigns is wasted simply because there is no “home” for staying on top of longer term opportunities.
Craig Rosenberg, The Funnelholic and long-time proponent of feeding sales with high quality leads, wrote this blog on lead nurturing. He makes a number of relevant points:
- You can’t be good at lead nurturing if you aren’t good at content marketing.
- Buyers prefer to work digitally—don’t fight it.
- Don’t forget to call—combine channels like email and voice in your campaigns, you will increase overall conversion.
- Your blog is part of your nurturing strategy—but, buyers want to educate anonymously. Let them.
- LinkedIn is a nurture tool and the fastest path to conversion. Use it!
- Data is the reason your lead nurturing is failing.
- Segment your database by buyer and deliver relevance. You win.
- Help instead of sell, and then lead nurturing will help you build a trusted brand.
- Start running marketing and sales like a business: I recently wrote that CFOs should INSIST on lead audits. I recommend this because companies large and small are wasting money by the fistful on marketing programs that have little or no return on investment. Dave Stein, founder of ES Research, has a great blog on this topic that can be found here. He says in summary, “I believe that sales is in an unfortunate state because it is not treated like the business that it should be. …
“One significant contributing factor is the deliberate and conscious effort by many companies and sales leaders to equate their “sales teams” to sports teams and to treat them that way. Sales teams are not sports teams. Selling is not a sport. It’s a business. …
“Are there important things we can learn about teamwork, strategy, and execution from sports? Sure. But wouldn’t it be better to learn by examining successful sales experiences, sales case studies, and research about selling, or effective teamwork, strategy, and execution from other functions and departments within our own companies? …
“Sports teams are run like the businesses they are. Why should sales departments be run like the sports teams that they are not?”
There you have it. Three actions to take right now to positively impact 2014! I hope you enjoy a wonderful and restful Holiday!