It’s a familiar tale: The sales team complains (loudly) because it doesn’t have any leads. The marketing team responds with report after report that shows the status of every lead it has ever turned over to sales. Unfortunately, the sales team closed most of those leads as unqualified, despite the fact that they technically met the Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) criteria defined jointly by the sales and marketing teams.
Your marketing team is frustrated because it believes it produced the quality of leads to which it committed. The sales team is equally frustrated because they couldn’t connect with the lead, or when they did connect, they quickly realized it was too late: Either the decision had been made or the buyers were so far down the buying cycle that it was too late to engage. Did you know that 79% of all marketing leads are never converted to sales?
Why the disconnect? The reality is that the demand generation process is broken. That’s true even when marketing teams are using the latest and greatest digital marketing tactics. The demand generation process is broken because most programs work to identify and qualify a lead. They are skipping the most important step: Education.
Buyers today spend more time online researching solutions and vendors than ever before. In 2013, Sirius Decisions noted that 67% of the buying cycle happens before a sales person gets involved. In 2015, Forrester said that 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their (buying) research online. And in 2017, Harvard Business Review noted that (Business) customers spend as much time getting ready to speak to a sales rep as they expected to spend on the entire purchase.
That means that today’s B2B demand generation programs are not (just) about qualifying a lead. In fact, qualifying the lead is the last step in a much longer educational cycle. Today’s B2B marketing programs must help the buyer:
“See” a different option
Commit to changing the status quo
Shape the requirements
Often the buyer does not (officially) look at your solution until he or she (or the purchase committee) defines the requirements. It is at this point that they have a project, a budget and are ready to talk to your sales team.
The demand generation job is much more strategic than you might realize. Your demand generation program must “create a relationship” with the buyer by dripping content that guides the buyer journey. Content that helps shape the requirements for the solution and leads to request a sales call with your company.
The good news is that today’s marketing automation solutions make it much easier to drip this information to your future buyers. But to create a demand generation program that leads buyers to your doorstep, you need a deep understanding of their frustrations, you need to understand the questions they want answered and you need to know the proof points they need to move from one buying stage to the next.
Only then is a lead sales ready.
To download a free and informative eBook about how to guide the buyer journey, click here.