Case Study: Conquer Unqualified Leads by Becoming an Industry Thought Leader

Written by Rockannand on May 13, 2010 – 8:10 am -

In this blog post, I sat down with Marcia Yudkin to talk about the issue of unqualified leads. This case study focuses on a company that markets and sells on-demand transportation management software to very large CPG shippers such as P&G and Quaker Oats. The entire interview can be heard here.  

The problem they presented
Management wanted to know how to generate more qualified leads, and mistakenly thought it was just a matter of producing more webcasts, white papers and thought leadership content and relying on a number of key media channels to deliver that content. Their lead qualification processes were mostly manual and were being performed by the sales team without automated tools. When any type of suspect inquiry occurred, marketing would handoff the inquiry directly to the sales team to qualify sales-readiness.

What was the real problem?
Upon further inspection, I discovered a number of symptoms that pointed to a bigger problem.

First, when prospects opted-in for their content, they could not tell if they were interested in them or just the topic. For example, when they downloaded a white paper, they had no real tracking methods to determine whether or not these were qualified leads, other than calling them directly.

B2B industry stats indicated that less than 10% of the leads were sales ready, but they were spending significant time to determine which were sales-ready and which were not. They had no lead nurturing process for the 75-80% of the inquiries that were qualified (right company/right contact), but not sales-ready. We called these leads “qualified contacts”.

Second they lacked tools to measure the various media outlets they used to deliver their content via sponsored webinars and white paper promotions. For example, they used Aberdeen to promote white papers, but had no way to determine the quality of the leads they were getting from the downloads and how Aberdeen stacked up against other firms such as ARC, AMR and industry-specific media players.

Finally, the company’s sales team consisted of extremely industry-knowledgeable reps when it came to logistics, who weren’t that adept at closing sales. They were good at educating prospects on the problems they solved, but more often they would get stuck educating those who were not real buyers yet. The process of moving these “qualified contacts” to qualified, sales-ready opportunities was labor-intensive and time-consuming. The company was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing programs, but was not optimizing the return on the marketing budget.

The Solution
In the podcast I break down a couple of implemented strategies involving process (lead management vs lead generation) technology (permission-based marketing automation) and people. The new marketing automation solution allowed them to execute multi-touch, multi-channel campaigns that filtered the sales-ready leads from those needing nurturing using existing marketing admin resources. The leads they were receiving from the sponsored webinars and white paper downloads were now channeled into monthly email campaigns that automated the previous manual process of filtering and qualifying leads.

The Results
The results were impressive:
• In just one year, their qualified contact database grew threefold to over 12,000.
• Their large “house” database allowed them to produce their own webinars at a savings of $10,000+/webinar with great attendance (over 800/webinar).
• They were able to hire sales reps who were not necessarily industry experts now that marketing was delivering large numbers of qualified leads to the sales force.
• Over 3 years, revenues grew 3-4 times.
• Marketing staffing stayed constant, while sales reps were added and the marketing budget as a % of revenues dropped significantly.

Lessons Learned:
We followed a strategy built on people, process and technology (in that order). The company was able to tap into their number-one strength, industry knowledge, and market it in a way that allowed them to firmly establish their reputation as such. They became the trusted advisor and market leader.

Listen to the complete podcast now.


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One Comment to “Case Study: Conquer Unqualified Leads by Becoming an Industry Thought Leader”

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