Why Sales Shouldn’t Have to Generate Their Own Leads

The Downside of Campaign-Based Demand Generation

Too many sales organizations are disappointed in marketing’s performance. While they would welcome marketing’s contribution to pipeline, most sales leaders and professionals don’t think that marketing can actually help drive revenue or deliver qualified sales leads. Even well-intentioned efforts to align sales and marketing often fall short, with marketing’s focus typically returning to ineffective campaigns and vanity metrics – reinforcing the stereotypes of B2B marketing as nothing more than a cost center.

When marketing and sales are not aligned on the same Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), marketing’s activities typically fail to deliver sales the quality leads that are needed to meet revenue goals. It’s no surprise then, that sales feels that they’re forced to take matters into their own hands, distracting them from selling, wasting valuable time and resources, and worst of all, sending mixed (and potentially counterproductive) messages to prospects.

The reality is that with the right marketing-based, revenue-focused, demand marketing mechanisms in place, sales won’t need to add head count, make cold calls or hire third parties to book appointments and generate demand.

The key is not for marketing to deliver more leads, but to deliver better leads.

When Marketing Falls Short

We consistently hear sales teams complain that marketing doesn’t deliver enough leads. But the problem isn’t that marketing is generating enough leads, it’s that sales is focused on quantity instead of quality. Sales reps often evaluate marketing performance based on the number of leads they need to drive a certain number of opportunities that convert to sales. For instance, they might figure out that, on average, they get 5 opportunities from 100 leads, creating a 5% yield of leads to opportunities.

But that 5% yield is problematic because most reps don’t follow up on every lead marketing delivers. Carefully calculated lead scores are often ignored as sales cherry-picks the shiniest accounts or leads while ignoring the majority of leads delivered to them. When higher or missed revenue goals demand that marketing deliver even more leads, marketing often responds by throwing more budget or resources at existing tactics. But budgets are limited, and tired tactics lose effectiveness over time.

When campaign-based marketing tactics fall short, many companies and sales organizations hire more salespeople to fill the lead and revenue gap. But it’s a misguided response. A good salesperson is a six-figure-a-year resource, and that’s a big expense for someone to comb through their digital Rolodex, scour LinkedIn, and make cold calls.

The key is not for marketing to deliver more leads, but to deliver better leads.

Shared success metrics combined with collaboration in the planning stages of the demand strategy mitigate misalignment and ensure that marketing delivers what sales needs.

Shared Metrics Drive Collaboration

If marketing is measured on total leads, regardless of quality or revenue contribution, it is easy for them to hit their numbers no matter how sales performs. However, if marketing is focused on revenue-based metrics that emphasize the quality of a lead over the quantity, alignment comes organically, and both marketing and sales focus on the right activities.

To ensure that marketing delivers meaningful value to sales, the teams need to collaborate from the ground up when designing a demand marketing program. Shared success metrics created in the planning stages of the demand strategy mitigate misalignment and ensure that marketing delivers what sales needs.

Sales can provide marketing with candid information about prospects and customers: who are the buyers and influencers, what are the steps in the buying process, what are their key pain points, and more. Marketing should then validate these assertions with customer and prospect interviews. Based on these insights, marketing can more accurately target the audience and create content that better aligns with the buying cycle, including buyer pains, priorities and triggers.

As they aim for marketing and sales alignment that supports marketing’s contribution to revenue, organizations need to put in place the right KPI framework. The column on the left in the following table lists the standard metrics that dominate in a campaign-based marketing environment. The right-hand column lists the KPIs that encourage alignment between marketing and sales, and that serve as a foundation for sales to move away from generating its own leads.

Tactical Marketing Activity Metrics Strategic Demand Marketing Metrics
Email opens Engaged-to-qualified lead
Email click-throughs Qualified lead-to-opportunity
Downloads Channel/content velocity
Web traffic Marketing-sourced pipeline
Likes/shares Marketing-sourced revenue

Marketing-Led, Quality-Focused Strategic Demand
Traditional sales-driven demand generation tactics like cold calling and unsolicited emails aren’t effective in an era when buyers conduct their own research and are more than halfway through the purchase process before wanting to talk to sales. As a result, marketing needs to take the lead by connecting with, engaging and qualifying prospects as they are conducting research. Marketing can do this by connecting buyers with the right piece of content, at the right time, on the engagement channels they prefer.

Marketing-led demand generation isn’t meant to replace sales’ “closing” efforts. Rather, it’s intended to support and drive sales, especially at the top and middle of the funnel. It’s also meant to facilitate sales interactions by better informing and encouraging early-stage buyers to move further down the purchase path. By reducing or eliminating the need for sales to generate their own leads and new pipeline, Sales can focus on selling rather than generating leads.

Traditional sales-driven demand generation tactics like cold calling and unsolicited emails aren’t effective in an era when buyers conduct their own research and are more than halfway through the purchase process before wanting to talk to sales

Leveraging technology and a clear process, marketing can and should handle demand marketing and lead qualification at scale in an automated fashion. Buyer-centric research and strategy identifies the digital channels that buyers frequent during their purchase process, and marketing automation makes it possible to track content engagement across channels. Detailed performance metrics tied to revenue can help marketing get smarter about which content offers and engagement channels are most valuable in order to optimize engagement over time.

By coupling these tools with a well-defined, buyer-centric demand marketing strategy, companies can scale their efforts to drive top-of-funnel, prequalified leads and nurture them into the middle of the funnel. In other words, they can ensure marketing delivers more high-quality leads to sales. As a result, sales can focus on closing deals at the bottom of funnel where human interaction matters.

ANNUITAS’ Strategic Demand Process helps organizations align and support their marketing and sales teams with the right processes, technology, content and data needed to enable marketing-driven revenues. Working with ANNUITAS, organizations can evolve to better engage, nurture and convert today’s B2B buyers. Let’s Connect.

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