Based on our research, I think companies with complex sale will face the following six lead generation challenges in 2006:
1. Fewer sales opportunities unless your top of mind: Although the deal value of each sale is high, there will be simply fewer opportunities as compared to more transactional selling environments. More attention therefore must be paid to proactively identifying those relatively few and valuable opportunities and nurturing them early.
2. Commoditization will continue and will be more difficult to overcome: Marketers must work much more diligently and creatively to differentiate their organizations against increasing competition. Exposure is not enough; there must be a value proposition that resonates with prospects.
3. Increased selling at the executive level: There must be a more intelligent and varied approach to reaching and converting executives who are more often the economic buyers for complex solutions.
4. More outreach required to the sphere of influence: Buying processes frequently involve a team approach. Enlisting the support of one decision maker is rarely enough. The sphere of influence must be identified and a targeted multipronged approach taken to reach as many as possible.
5. Less selling time: Because of longer sales cycles (and they’ll get longer), sales people cannot afford to spend time on unqualified leads. They must focus attention on opportunities that have the greatest likelihood of closing. Marketing must fill the void and nurture early stage opportunities.
6. Return on investment measurement difficulty: Direct return from lead generation activity takes time to surface. A solid plan for reporting and measuring reliable indicators must be in place to justify continued investment.