This article first appeared November 28, 2007 in the Tatum Marketing blog.
The CEO of a software company contacted me the other day and said “We’re behind on our sales goals. I need more leads. What’s the best way to get them?”
Most technology marketing “experts” would have jumped right in with suggestions about email campaigns, pay-per-click advertising, direct mail and so on. But I asked him about his marketing process.
“We go to some trade shows,” he said. “And we run ads in a trade publication. But it doesn’t work. We don’t get any business from it.”
“What happens when you get an inquiry from one of your marketing programs?” I asked.
“We give the names to our sales team,” he responded.
And therein lies the weakness in many – if not most – technology marketing programs.
Technology purchasing, as I’ve written many times, is a multi-step process. Technology marketing must match this process. When inbound inquires are immediately turned over to sales as “leads”, you skip the most critical part of the process – lead development.
As a result, you can easily lose as much as 80% or more of your best potential leads.
In the case of the software CEO mentioned above, we found that the company’s marketing efforts were, in fact, generating plenty of inbound inquiries. What it wasn’t doing was developing those inquiries into leads the sales team could really work with.
So, we established a lead development program and a lead qualifying process, and suddenly the sales team was covered in good leads – without the company spending another dollar on actually acquiring those leads.
It’s perfectly natural to look at the number of inbound leads as a measure of marketing effectiveness and to want to add more of those prospects to your pipeline. But, you may simply be dumping more names to a faulty system. And that’s a great way to waste marketing investment.
Before you decide that your marketing program needs to be generating more leads, take a close look at what happens to the inquiries you’re already getting. If you’re sending them right to the sales team without qualifying them first, you’re in a great position to improve results by taking two steps:
1. Filter the prospects so that your sales team gets only those prospects who are truly ready to talk with them.
2. Put the remaining prospects into a lead nurturing program that educates, offers value, and subtly moves the prospect closer to the sale.
More on how to take those steps in future posts.