March 13

Fear not! Think like a savvy investor with lead generation

Lead Generation


This morning I was talking to a marketing leader about his demand generation strategy and he brought up some concerns he had about the economy and its potential impact on him and others.

Can you blame him?

In years past, marketing has been favorite target for cuts by CFOs and CEOs as they look to conserve cash and reinforce their balance sheets for tough times.

I’m less concerned about budget cuts and more interested in opportunities for him and other B2B marketers who choose to bring focus to their marketing efforts. We have to remember that regardless of the economy, sales people are still expected to perform. I seldom find sales quotas are lowered to fit the news headlines.

If you want to flourish regardless of the economic conditions, you need to look for ways to help your sales team execute and improve performance.

I’m convinced that one of the best ways to do that is to focus on lead generation. Yesterday, I read a Kate Maddox’s article in BtoB Magazine, “IDC: Tougher times for tech marketing,” which supports that other B2B marketers are doing just that.

Much like a savvy investor who buys when the market is down, smart marketers can capitalize on this opportunity (and beat competitors), by bringing focus and attention to their lead generation efforts.

Maddox’s article highlights IDC’s recent tech marketing barometer research. IDC showed that fewer tech marketers are increasing their budgets this year compared to last year. But I think the bigger story is how those dollars are being allocated. Maddox writes, “According to the [IDC] report. Lead generation is the top marketing priority for tech marketers this year…”

According to studies, the single biggest issue for contemporary business-to-business marketers is effective lead generation.  Conversely, it has been pointed out that 80% of marketing expenditures on lead generation and collateral are wasted because the leads are ignored by salespeople.

For this reason, marketers should direct their budgets away from traditional awareness building campaigns that quickly eat up budget and instead expand and optimize lead generation programs that bring measurable results. Finding better tools and processes for managing the leads or inquiries that they already have is also a good investment in a turbulent economy.

You will optimize lead generation immediately if you can honestly answer “yes” to all of the following questions:

• Do sales and marketing agree on what the word “lead” means?
• Are you tracking the conversion rates of leads to sales opportunities?
• Can you/Do you close-the-loop on all leads that are being passed to sales?
• Does your sales team pass back early stage or “cold” leads back for lead nurturing?

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. “Conversely, it has been pointed out that 80% of marketing expenditures on lead generation and collateral are wasted because the leads are ignored by sales people.”

    I believe this is right on the button. I am in a position to witness this phenomenon first-hand. Of all leads which are handed off to sales, about 70% are followed up with an email. Of those 70%, about 10% are touched with a phone call in addition to the email. The rest are ignored and after the initial attempt to contact, these leads fall into a black hole – never to be seen again.

    I am now attempting to build a business case for implementing the correct incentives for a business development function to nurture these lost leads through phone conversations, emails, and a two-way communication process. We have the technology; we need the mindset.

    Thank you for your ideas.

  2. Marketing leaders know that a demonstrable ROI is what protects the marketing budget. But too often it’s too little too late when the budget ax falls.

  3. Recently i read 2 books on a subjects “selling to big customers, bag the elephant” etc.
    Authors argue, that you should bag the elephant, and concentrate the power on it, rather then scatter your energy generating more and more leads. Well. This is where I am not sure I agree. I do not like putting all my eggs in one bag (even if I watch it closely), and prefer to stick with an ideas for generating more prospects…
    Greetings from Taiwan!

  4. My name is Andrew Ghalashahi PRONOUNCED – GA-LA-SHAW-HE. I have been
    involved with lead generation PROJECTS for about 13 years now. I am
    compelled to comment on the posting because being able to quantify or
    “gauge” lead generation results has typically always been a challenge.

    Obviously companies focus more on the number of opportunities that are
    discovered through lead generation or appointment setting. That’s usually
    because prospect leads who are not ready buy within the next 18 months will not keep
    the lights on, so to speak.

    The word lead can be taken in different ways by companies. Some feel that is
    the result of sifting through a target market and finding someone who is
    “LIKELY” to purchase the product or service being offered.

    Some look at a lead as an OPPORTUNITY to educate the prospect on the solution
    being offered. This is the way seasoned sales professionals feel a lead is.
    These are the people who do not expect a deal on a silver platter.

    Marketing and lead generation have a lot in common. Marketing and lead
    generation both involve introducing a message to a party that may have a
    needs for what’s being offered. Marketing is the SEED of any sale. With No
    marketing there is NO SALE.

    I find it amusing when a company makes cuts and decides to reduce their
    marketing spend. This has always been an issue that really confused me.
    Without marketing their is NO SALE. Stop and think about it……The last
    time when you made a purchase….I don’t care what is was……anything
    think about it…..about 90% of the time you related the product or service
    to something you may have read , heard, or saw in an advertisement,
    marketing phone call, trade magazine, blog or anything that can deliver a
    message. This is why I don’t understand when big companies layoff marketing
    executives or reduce the marketing dollars to allegedly SAVE MONEY.

    If you want to save money….decrease luxury! When I say luxury I mean high
    paid people who have minimal responsibility.

    Put those dollars toward lead generation and get your sales people in front
    of decision makers!!!!

  5. Everyone is focusing on your statement:

    “Conversely, it has been pointed out that 80% of marketing expenditures on lead generation and collateral are wasted because the leads are ignored by sales people.”

    Which is certainly and alarming symptom of a very large disconnect in online lead generation and online sales production. But, I think even more alarming is that probably 90% of companies and sales leadership don’t know this about their own lead management process.

    Meanwhile, the customer experience in the online channel becomes one of missed expectations and frustration. Hurting online marketing and sales on a bigger scale.

  6. This statistic, “Conversely, it has been pointed out that 80% of marketing expenditures on lead generation and collateral are wasted because the leads are ignored by sales people.” really is impactful!

    I would add that there needs to be communication between the sales and marketing teams. Feedback is so very important to increasing sales adoption. I actually work at SAVO, a sales enablement company and what we have found after 9 years is that sales will adopt what they are giving feedback on. We allow for comments and star ratings on marketing materials or campaigns. This may sound scary to some marketers, but don’t we want sales to be using what we create? This statistic is presenting that gap!

    By the way, we are actually holding a webinar on how we do this, if anyone is interested, here is the link to register:

  7. I work with Suzanne Lowe of Expertise Marketing, one of your co-contributors to that RainToday report. After working on one of her upcoming newsletters, this statement in your post really struck me: “Conversely, it has been pointed out that 80% of marketing expenditures on lead generation and collateral are wasted because the leads are ignored by sales people.”

    I can’t say more now, but trust me that an upcoming interview in her newsletter will be with someone who addressed an issue like this at a very big firm.

  8. Definitely Brian. Generating new leads should be a top priority for any B2B company.

    Sadly, many just don’t know how to competently and confidently get new leads. And even worse-they hesitate to get the help they so desperately need.

  9. Once again, you’re dead on Brian! Just the simple semantics of “what defines a lead?” is where most companies get caught.

    Seldom to they move to actually tracking the lead all the way through the sales process…

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