March 2

Going beyond the sales lead

Marketing Strategy


Ultimately, the purpose of B2B marketing is to help the sales team sell. But marketers often get so wrapped up in driving activity that they seem to forget it’s about driving sales conversion.

For example, ask most executives and marketers what sales people need and they will say, "more leads." Your sales people don’t want more leads actually, what they want is "more effective selling time." It’s not about more activity. It’s about helping the sales team achieve better results.

After working with hundreds of sales people and seeing their sales processes first hand, I frequently hear this "stuck point." They often ask, “How do I advance the lead when there isn’t an immediate need?” Sales people are often stuck wondering, “What else can I talk to them about?”

With out your input, sales people often resort to boring or irrelevant messaging that don’t position them as trusted advisors. Phone calls such as, “I’m just calling to touch base” or emails that say, “I’m just checking in…” are like saying “Are you ready to buy yet?”  This is not because they lack creatively, it a simple matter of time or perspective. Sales people need to spend their time selling, not building content and messaging.

With or without your knowledge, sales reps are altering your messaging and creating their own collateral. Remember: The first impression matters.  So does the second.  So does every single touch after that. This is especially true with complex sales that require multiple conversations on the phone before you may get your first face to face meeting in the later stages of their buying process.

B2B marketers need to do more for their sales team than just throwing leads over the wall. If marketing wants to view sales as their customer, they need to be much more involved from the customer’s perspective to understand their buying process and go beyond the lead.  This is an opportunity for marketing leaders to shine.

To do this you need to be thinking strategically, which involves getting more than one perspective. That means that sales must provide input to marketing (and marketing needs to accept and value the input) on the development of things such as sales collateral, white papers, case studies, articles, advertising, e-mail campaigns, value proposition development etc. as a joint team.  It also means getting out in the field with your team to really understand how you can help them sell.

If you go beyond the lead, you’ll generate much greater return from your lead generation investment and you’ll be doing what you’re meant to do… help the sales team sell.

Here’s 9 ideas to help you go beyond the lead:

  1. Build a library of selling and nurturing content specifically designed for you sales team. (The content does not have to be flashy, just relevant.)
  2. Make the content library easily accessible. 
  3. Use the phone to qualify all inquiries before sending them to the sales team.
  4. Establish a clear process for handling and distributing leads.
  5. Leverage your CRM system to create a lead management process.
  6. Distribute leads rapidly.
  7. Expect your sales team to follow up on each lead promptly.
  8. Measure sales lead acceptance and follow up by sales team.
  9. Close the loop with your sales team regularly.

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. Great article and a great point about lead follow-up calls:
    “Phone calls such as, ‘I’m just calling to touch base’ or emails that say, ‘I’m just checking in…’ are like saying ‘Are you ready to buy yet?’”
    It’s so true.

    We’re addressing things like this with podcasts for our customers every week, and your article really hit home.

    Mark Boyd, Marketing Director

  2. Great point. B2B Marketers can empower Sales with new tools that provide specific customer information, whether it’s “before the call” intelligence about the company or individual web site data about the prospect’s visits. The key is to make this information easily available and digestible to Sales, so they don’t have to spend a lot of time learning new techniques. With this, Sales can offer better info, advice, close more deals and become the “trusted advisor” that you reference.

  3. Though time spent with lead generation and client development is critical, it can be all for nothing if you miss the common errors encountered during interaction with potential and current clients. Missing or overlooking cues from the client is probably the biggest of them all.

  4. I really like your idea of “lead nurturing content.” Too often marketing is caught up in producing material for the next product launch and doesn’t take the time to consider what information could revive interest in an existing product.

    Sometimes, it’s as easy as reminding the sales team that new case studies, press coverage, or white papers are available. Just posting this information to a marketing site doesn’t mean the salespeople will remember to go looking for those resources.

    Janice King, Author
    Copywriting That Sells High Tech

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