OK, I have not slipped and suffered a head injury. Everyone knows, especially in the B2B world, that one of the roles Marketing plays is “Lead Generation.” I have not forgotten that after spending a great deal of my career in the B2B space. Today’s Marketer has to be much more involved in Lead Generation than ever before, gathering, and nurturing leads, longer than ever before.
That Marketing needs to further develop and qualify the lead is more and more becoming a function of marketing. That is what has changed. No longer can Marketing get the lead and dump it off to sales.
Years ago, while working for a software company, when a lead would come in through a trade journal ad, or web site form, I passed the lead off to sales to let that person further work and qualify the lead.
At trade shows, we never employed a “fish bowl” where any attendee could stop by and drop a business card into a fish bowl for a drawing. If and when we did a contest, the attendee would have to participate in a demo to which the sales person working the show floor would qualify the person before offering the demo. This screen process worked quite well. In fact while at the trade shows, I would gather the business cards along with the lead card information that the sales person collected during any conversation.
The sales team was very astute in screening and qualifying trade show attendees before further engaging with that person . The conversations generally went like this:
Hello, (scans show badge for name), what brought you the (show name) today?
What area of the company do you work? (Trying to ascertain if the person was in the right department for our solution.)
Who works in the (department), and he or she at the show today? (This was a typical question after figuring out the person in the conversation was not the right profile, but the company was a good candidate for our solution.)
What solution are you currently using? (Many times the sales person already knew as our company was in a unique niches with a limited number of players.)
And so the questioning continued to qualify the attended or the company as a valid prospect. Then there might be an slight explanation of the solution as the sales person moved the prospect through the qualification phase right at the trade show.
Back into the fish bowl.
Whether you like it or not, in today’s marketing world, leads can come from many sources; a lot of them and many not true prospects, life back into the fish bowl. Traditional marketing channels are not as effective as before. Prospects are taking more control over how they wish to receive messages and how they conduct research to make buying decisions becoming more web dependent. Leads are now coming from a variety of Internet locations; web site, social channels, industry directories and so on. It can many times be like a fish bowl, getting hundreds of leads coming into marketing.
Now marketing needs to work that lead and further qualify it through such online tactics like webinars, videos, podcasts, group discussions (such as LinkedIn Groups within the Industry and LinkedIn groups you should create) before handing it off to sales. Tracking leads requires marketing automation and CRM tools.
Just like the Trade Show
Just like my example of how the sales team worked the trade show floor, so too will marketing need to work the leads that come into the company, before handing them off to sales. Now more of the qualification process becomes virtual in nature.
Sales teams, which also may have been asked to do more with less due to the recession, need well qualified leads to work and turn into sales. Marketing’s role continues to fashion web demos and web conferences along with other tools that sales will need to close that sale.
So, has your company adapted to the new world of Marketing, further working leads before moving them to sales? Marketers, what are you doing differently now than what you did 10 years ago to generate and manage leads?