DEMAND GENERATION: Don't take the lead - work together
Sales and marketing must learn to trust each other and use the same criteria to define a lead, according to Mary Miller, global marketing director of Mardev-DM2
The secret to driving the right leads to sales is alignment. For as long as most marketers can remember, sales and marketing have played a never-ending game of finger-pointing. It's time to stop. How? Bring sales and marketing together around a common objective - revenue. That can only happen when sales and marketing agree upon:
This new approach requires accountability. With accountability comes the unprecedented need for metrics, results and visibility across departments and at the executive level.
Common definition of a lead
Historically, marketing has been tasked with generating high volumes of leads. While sales teams expect volume, they also expect quality - now more than ever. As organisations have fewer resources, there are less people, with less time to call and chase leads.
While there are many legitimate sources of leads, it is much more important to determine 'what's next?' for those contacts than to immediately hand them over to sales. Marketing needs to take some responsibility for the lead quality, as well as quantity. We need to find out the level of need, timeline, purchase authority and budget before we expect sales to accept them as a qualified lead.
So if sales professionals are wasting time calling on unqualified leads, it is true that leads can get in the way of sales. By starting with a common definition of a lead, sales and marketing have greater levels of accountability and expectations for leads to produce sales.
Lead qualification requirements
In order for sales and marketing to maintain their newfound alignment, there needs to be an ongoing dialogue about the requirements. As needs change - new products enter the market, competitors reposition themselves, etc. It is critical that sales and marketing share this information with each other to make sure they are asking the right questions of the leads they are calling on.
Therefore, marketing has a level of responsibility to stay engaged with new leads as they go through the qualification process, and sales has got to share their visibility into the market as things change. The bottom line is trust. Sales has got to trust that marketing is delivering the highest quality leads.
Not to be lost in this process is cost. One of requirements needs to be that all leads must be measurable - whether by cost-per-lead, cost-per-sales accepted lead, or cost-per-sales conversion, or any combination thereof. Regardless of the cost of the lead, you must know that you get what you pay for. When human resources are scarce, it makes a lot of sense to spend a little more for a qualified lead that is accepted by sales than continuing to generate low-cost, high-volume leads that don't generate revenue.
Measurement and reporting
Marketing reporting cannot only show sales your contribution to the business but also display what channels work best and where you can improve. Because the results are available online, in real time, you can quickly adapt marketing programmes to apply best practices and proper lead qualification steps. As trust and alignment between sales and marketing increases, so will