What Sales is Really Asking for When They Want More Leads
Do you know what a salesperson looks at first when they look at a batch of leads that has been delivered to them from marketing?
We’d like to think it is the lead score, since we worked together (and yes, this is an assumption) to build out a scoring system based on the title and level of the buyer, basic company background, and activity-based (and sometimes channel-based) components. When added together, these factors should add up to a minimum requirement for that lead to be passed over to sales. So what’s the problem?
Sales isn’t necessarily looking for more leads, but rather more leads from companies they feel are in the “sweet spot.” If they find one good company in every ten leads, then they will need twenty leads to find two companies that they feel they can sell to. That’s why they want more leads … in order to cherry-pick the best ones from the companies they want to be calling on.
That’s the first thing they look at … the company a lead is coming from. They want to know if this is a lead from a company that is likely to buy.
Sales has been taking this account-based approach for a long time, but most marketers are focused on ‘net new’ names, or lead volume as an indicator of success. In fact, according to some preliminary results from our currently in-progress B2B Enterprise Demand Generation Survey, ‘net new leads’ was the most-measured KPI with 72% of marketers tracking it. If we want to be truly aligned with sales, then an account-based approach to marketing might be the right strategy for your team — and perhaps the KPI to shoot for should be new leads from target accounts.
How do you get started?
Build a target account list
Take a look at your best customers, and identify what they have in common. Are they all from a select group of industries, with certain minimum revenue thresholds? Are they all using the same CRM system, or ERP? Did they just receive a round of funding, or report earnings that were in line with expectations? Identify their common ground, and then search for more companies that share similar characteristics to build your target account list.
Adjust your lead scoring to add bonus points if a company is on your target list
Your sales team would rather get a manager or director from a company on the list than a VP from a company that will never buy. Target account leads should bubble to the top faster than ones from other companies.
Leverage your target account list in your demand generation efforts
When considering sponsorship at a live event, look at last year’s attendee list. Are at least 40% of the companies there on your list? If not, then maybe it’s not the right event for you – even if you have always attended that show or consider it to be “important to the brand.” Also, when negotiating for content syndication programs or email list rentals, see if you can limit the leads you receive to come from only target accounts. These vendors may resist you, because many are not set up to operate in this way, but work with them to find a way to focus on target accounts. Consider lowering the title minimum to include manager and higher from target accounts, rather than director and up. The CPL might be higher, and your reach may not be as wide, but in the end the quality of leads coming in will make sales happy because they are from the accounts they want to be selling to.
Consider investing in account identification technologies
Look at the technologies that will shine a light on target account activity on your website, or that will identify a visitor from a target account when they fill out a form using their personal email address. When you understand the web traffic sources (or paid ads) that are driving the most traffic from your target account list, then you know where to increase your spending next quarter. Also, people often lie on forms, which can impact lead scoring. With backup identification at the corporate level, you can more easily identify the accounts where there is likely an initiative you want to know about. They may not be ready to engage yet, but with a little bit of knowledge you can drop employees from that account into a nurture program which will solidify your place at the table when they are ready to talk.
Sales doesn’t want to spend time calling on leads from companies that are not likely to buy. Understanding and acting on your target account list may decrease the overall quantity of your leads, but if the quality is there the impact will show in your pipeline and revenue numbers.
Author: Jason Stewart @jstewart_1 is VP, Demand Generation, ANNUITAS