+44 203 280 3665
Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

Marketing leads given to Sales are rubbish, says Dave Apthorp.
Sales don't bother to phone Marketing Leads, says Maria Smith
We wanted to know more about the quality of marketing leads.
Are marketing leads so poor it's not worth salespeople calling them?
We conducted a short experiment to investigate the quality of marketing leads.
12 months ago the team attended a trade show to increase the number of marketing leads.
The aim was to create sales opportunities from these marketing leads.
Sales called all the marketing leads but no new opportunities were created.
That produced a lot of conflict between sales and marketing.
12 months later, GSP did some research by calling all the marketing leads.
The findings from this research might surprise you.
Two marketing leads had subsequently made a purchase.
Two other marketing leads were in the middle of a purchasing process.
One marketing lead was planning to make a purchase next year.
4 marketing leads were not planning to make a purchase anytime soon.
1 marketing leads will never make a purchase.
In summary, half the marketing leads were good quality.
We contacted the marketing leads to find out why they hadn't spoken to salespeople at the time.
Based on our research, the marketing leads told us they weren't ready to speak to salespeople.
The leads were good quality but they were not yet sales-ready.
After the trade show, the activities of these marketing leads were invisible to salespeople.
No-one knew when the marketing leads would be ready to speak to salespeople.
There are six lessons from this research into the quality of marketing leads.
Lesson 1 - marketing leads in the invisible sales pipeline needs to be managed proactively.
Lesson 2 - marketing leads need to be managed over the long-term and this requires patience.
Lesson 3 - lead nurturing is essential to produce sales-ready leads from cold lists.
Lesson 4 - create high quality, useful content to feed lead nurture campaigns.
Lesson 5 - engage with marketing leads only when these prospects are sales-ready.
Lesson 6 - creating high quality marketing leads requires a process driven approach supported by technology.
Apply these 6 lessons to create sales-ready opportunities from your marketing leads.

Let us know what you think about this blog post by filling out the form below – we greatly appreciate it!

 

“Most Marketing leads we get are rubbish,” complains Dave Apthorp, sales executive at Modernis.

“How can Sales possibly know this?” says Maria Smith, marketing manager at Modernis. “They never phone any of the leads we DO give them!”

But where’s the truth? Are Marketing leads so poor it’s not worth Sales following them up? We wanted to find out.

Twelve months ago the Modernis marketing team attended a trade show. Sales immediately called up the leads. And how many opportunities were created? None. Absolutely none. Which led to a lot of sales complaints about the quality of leads. And one heck of a lot of friction.

So, 12 months later we called 10 of the marketing leads. We wanted to find out what had happened in the intervening 12 months. Here’s what we discovered:

  • 2 had purchased products from a competitor of Modernis.
  • 2 were actively engaged in a purchasing process to select a supplier. Sadly Modernis wasn’t one of the candidate suppliers.
  • 1 hadn’t started a formal purchasing process. But they fully expected to make a purchase in the next 12 months.
  • 4 of the leads had taken no action following the trade show. They didn’t anticipate starting a purchasing process any time soon.
  • 1 wasn’t in Modernis’ market place and is unlikely to ever make a purchase.

In other words 5 of the 10 were great leads. Two had already bought from a competitor. And yet these leads were all rejected as rubbish by Sales.

So why didn’t these prospects engage with Sales at the time? Here’s what they told us:

“We weren’t ready”.

” We didn’t have stakeholder support”.

“I didn’t have a budget at the time”.

“We weren’t sure what the right solution was. The last thing I needed was a sales pitch.”

“We hadn’t decided which vendors we wanted to talk to”.

The prospects were legitimate buyers. But they simply weren’t  sales ready. They were at an earlier stage in the buying process. They didn’t want to speak to a sales person. Yet.

Which is why Sales thought the marketing leads were rubbish. “That’s why we don’t bother to ring them”, says Dave.

But what’s worse, after the trade show the activities of these warm prospects were invisible to Modernis. Which meant no-one knew when they were sales ready. And led to lost sales for Modernis.

It was a classic case of a lack of sales and marketing alignment.

So what what can we learn from this research. Six things.

1. Manage the invisible pipeline pro-actively

Customers start their buying process long before Sales get involved. These early stage activities form an invisible pipeline. Yet this invisible revenue pipeline can – and must – be managed to drive sales income.

2. It pays to be patient

Modernis has a sales cycle of 2 – 3 months. But that’s Modernis definition of the sales cycle. That’s how long it typically takes an opportunity to pass from Created to Closed in the CRM system. But looked at from the perspective of the customer, the buying process is much longer.

3. Lead nurturing is essential

Traditionally prospects had to rely on sales people for their information. Not any more. There’s a wealth of information available on the internet on every product on earth.

And ad hoc marketing campaigns – delivered only when time permits – have only a short term impact on sales revenue. Effective lead nurturing means a structured process of communications throughout the buying process.

4. Useful is the new cool

The creation of content that is highly useful to prospects is critical to lead nurturing. The leads we spoke to were hungry for information. Highly useful content satisfies this hunger. It helps leads narrow choices. In your favor.

5. Engage sales when prospects are sales ready

Prospects don’t mind talking to sales people. But only when they’re ready to do so. And only with the relatively small number of vendors with whom they’ve decided to engage. And the challenge for Marketing? Track human behavior to gauge when leads are sales ready.

6. Marketing is becoming increasingly process and technology driven

It’s hard to know when a prospect is sales ready without knowing if they open your emails. Read your blog posts. Visit your web site.

Lead nurturing cannot be done in an ad hoc fashion. And it can’t be done manually, at least not effectively. It requires planning and well defined processes. Together with the marketing automation tools necessary to make the whole thing scalable and efficient.

Recommended Reading

5 Sales And Marketing Alignment Recommendations That Nail It

And finally… you can also access this blog on Slideshare – Stop Sales complaining about the quality of Marketing Leads

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

Who’s in your invisible sales pipeline?

Who’s in your invisible sales pipeline?

In the age of the internet most purchasing processes begin long before the selling organisation becomes aware of it. Invisible buyers perform invisible Google research. They narrow their invisible choices. They invisibly decide which companies to contact. And start forming an invisible sales pipeline.

Increasingly businesses are not only starting to get visibility of this invisible sales pipeline. They’re influencing it. And the result is a constant stream of sales ready leads.

Invisible Sales Pipeline

So what exactly is the invisible sales pipeline? It’s the investigation and research processes that potential buyers go through before they’re ready to talk to a potential supplier. In our model we identify four stages in the invisible sales pipeline.

Invisible Pipeline

In summary:

  • Problem Awareness. The buyer becomes aware of a problem she’s experiencing or an opportunity that might be exploited. The buyer typically spends time researching the web, casting around for information that will help build her understanding of the problem or opportunity.  Example: “I know our employees travel a great deal and incur a lot of expenses but no-one ever has any robust information on the costs.”
  • Potential Solution. The buyer understands more about her problem. She starts to identify ways in which she can solve her problem.  Example: “It looks like we need an effective travel management system.”
  • Candidate Solutions. The buyer has settled on the overall solution. She starts to research the potential companies that can provide this solution.  Example: “There’s 10 companies that seem to have the type of system I need.”
  • Preferred Suppliers. It’s not realistic to talk to every supplier. So the buyer narrows down the list of companies she’s going to engage with.  Example: “I’ve identified the three specific travel management system vendors that I want to talk to.”

Of course it might not be as linear and well defined as this. But you get the idea. And however you define the buying process in your industry, most organisations have no idea the potential buyer is going through it.

Sometimes though they get an inkling. The potential buyer goes to a conference and is scanned. Or she enters an email into a form in order to download a document.

But often what then happens is that the ‘lead’ is passed to the sales person. So the sales person calls the lead, who in turn replies, “No thanks, I’m not interested in a meeting.” Or words to that effect. “Those leads from Marketing are always rubbish”, thinks the sales person. And doesn’t bother to phone the next one.

Is this the best lead process that can be achieved? No. Over the next 6 weeks we’ll be publishing several more blog posts that explain:

  • How you can get visibility of buyers in the invisible sales pipeline. Short answer: use marketing automation applications such as Hubspot, Marketo and Pardot. And integrate them with salesforce.com.
  • How do you influence prospective buyers in the invisible sales pipeline? Short answer: create compelling and useful content that educates and influences the buyer as she moves through the various stages of the buying process.
  • How and when do you pass a prospective buyer from the invisible sales pipeline to the sales team. Short answer: when your lead scoring and prioritisation mechanism tells you it’s the optimum time.

The invisible sales pipeline doesn’t need to remain invisible. Stay tuned by following us on Google+

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend