Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 3: Moving from “Average” to “Good”

Written by Rockannand on November 26, 2010 – 9:38 am -

Over four years ago, Laura Ramos, when she was part of Forrester’s fantastic  B2B Marketing analyst group wrote that:

“B2B marketers can no longer afford to emphasize lead volume over lead quality. This practice reduces sales efficiency, increases costs, and fuels the gap between sales and marketing.”

Boy I could not agree more with Laura. At Forrester, she helped developed a maturity model that outlined 4 levels of evolution that B2B marketers attain in moving from average to market leading. After numerous marketing automation projects, I have adapted the maturity model to 3 levels that I label average, good and best. In this post, we will look at the profile of the “average” marketing organization and what steps do they need to follow to become “good”.

Start with an Honest Assessment
But let’s be honest here. Moving from a culture focused on quantity to one that practices the tenants of quality and lead management is not something that happens over night or even in a year. So what’s a B2B marketing leadership to do in our instant gratification business culture, where CEOs and sales organizations want marketing programs to produce results in weeks and months, not quarters and years?

It starts with B2B marketers making an honest assessment of how they capture, qualify, nurture, route and measure leads. Most companies I work with are at best average in their lead management processes.

Let’s Examine What it Means to be “Average”
The average B2B marketing organizations are almost exclusively focused on lead quantity. As a result they have a “one and done” mindset when it comes to lead generation campaigns and events. No sooner are they done with an event or email blast, then they are onto the next. Marketing has no standard lead management processes defined as they pass basically raw leads to sales.

Note, Marketing Sherpa recently reported that 8 out of 10 marketers pass raw leads to sales with no further qualification.

All of these “hand-raisers” who are not sales-ready (70-80% of initial inquiries) are ignored and never touched again by sales or marketing. Check out some of the other stats that are seen at average companies in Part 1 of this series.

What Should You Focus on to Become “Good”?
The following steps should be prioritized and will take anywhere from 6-12 months to implement and perfect:

  • Develop a common lead quality definition that is agreed to by sales. Add qualification questions to web site registration pages, telesales scripts, email campaigns and any other process that interacts with new and returning prospect visitors.
  • Close the loop between marketing and sales to ensure efficient lead handoff processes and eliminate bottlenecks. Establish initial lead scoring and routing rules for determining sales-ready leads.
  • Develop automated lead nurturing programs with multiple themes tied to the problem(s) you solve. See Part 2 of this series for how to set this up.
  • Capture and publish metrics that show the impact of the lead nurturing programs of sales success and sales pipeline development.
  • Develop permission-based practices focused on data hygiene that keep contact information up-to-date.
  • Implement one of the various Marketing Automation applications (from Eloqua, Marketo, Silverpop and others) to successfully enable these practices. For more analysis on the Marketing Automation players, check out David Raab’s assessment research and blog.

In our next installment of the Lead Nurturing series, we will discuss the steps needed to move from “good” to “best”.

Related Posts:

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 1: Making the Case for 2011 Marketing Plans

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 2: Where do I Start?

Case Study: Lead Nurturing Through Thought Leadership Content

Lead Nurturing is Coming of Age Part 4: Moving From Good to Best

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