Clicks Don't Always Mean Success
What role do marketers really play in sales? And I mean directly in sales. The answer to this question is actually quite different for each company. Some marketers go about executing campaigns with no particular concern for the outcome of their marketing tactics on eventual revenue. It's hard to believe this situation still exists, but we've seen it time and time again.
The reality is that most often marketing is motivated not by sales but by the number of leads or "clicks" it generates. Conversely, sales is driven solely by the numbers, how many sales close and how much revenue is generated. Thus, a large gap exists between marketing and sales organizations.
This gap is where the real difficulty lies. It has grown and will continue to grow as selling and buying patterns have changed. The Internet especially has made it difficult for companies to accurately identify what is a true lead versus a simple inquiry. For instance, today's buyers are using the Internet very early in the buying process. They visit Web sites and download resources, but the vast majority of them aren't yet ready to talk with a salesperson. Approaching them too soon can be annoying to the buyer and a waste of valuable sales time. Bottom line, in the Internet age, a simple "click" on an email or Web site rarely translates to an instant, sales-ready lead.
Marketers must start to take on additional responsibilities to help facilitate more quality leads sent to sales. With the limited ability of most companies to throw money into lead generation or throw money into more sales reps, the cost of the marketing and sales misalignment is greater now than ever before.
It's time for marketing's role to evolve. This role must include more than just outbound lead generation. It must also include the entire lead lifecycle. Marketing has to start taking responsibility for moving "sales-ready" leads to sales, instead of simply handing over cold inquiries.
How can marketing evolve into this new mindset? In order for marketers to track and drive leads through the life cycle, they must be equipped with the tools and visibility to allow them to deliver their objectives. They must also be assured that both sales and company management understand that in this new role, they could be delivering potentially fewer, but significantly better quality leads with better sales intelligence. In order to achieve this, they must consider what the lead life cycle or lead management process should be at their company and not what it has been, but what it should be. Many companies we speak with have fallen into a process. It's a legacy process that just simply evolved. No one sat down and mapped out the lead life cycle or lead management process in their company. Marketers need to identify areas where their process can be improved. Things to consider include their specific product and services buy cycle, their prospects, and their organization.
Once marketers determine what the lead management process should be and how a lead will move through the life cycle within their company, they need to implement the tools and metrics to meet that need. Marketers must map out their needs at the campaign level: tradeshows, AdWords, email campaigns, social media, etc. Next, they must determine what they need to understand about a lead. For instance, do you want to track and understand the lead's demographic information, its behavior as it interacts with your company and materials, its answers to questions? How much of this data is reasonable to track for your target audience? How is it best to obtain that information? All of these items must be thought through and decided. How will you grow a lead into a sales-ready lead? What works for your specific audience? At the beginning much of this will be trial and error. But quickly, marketers will see patterns and trends.
Although this additional work, process, and tracking can sound complex and cumbersome, it can be done in bite-sized pieces so that it's manageable. We certainly suggest starting simple. Don't complicate the process or attempt too much all at once. Start small, implement the concepts, tracking, technology, process, metrics, etc., and measure their effectiveness. Then go back, tweak, and continue to expand.
No longer can companies continue to follow the current sales and marketing legacy processes they've had in place. We are all struggling to grow with less. That means we must refine the process we have fallen into and marketing must take a greater role in sales. And although sales organizations have refined their sales process and much attention has been drawn there, marketing must also take responsibility and expand its role to refine the lead management process. If the process is reviewed and refined properly, marketing will become better aligned with the company's sales goals, leading to greater revenue performance.
Lisa Cramer is president and cofounder of LeadLife Solutions, a provider of an on-demand lead management solution. For more information on LeadLife Solutions, call 1-800-680-6292 or email email@example.com.