The precursor of change is always pain.
For most of us over the past four years, our marketplace has inflicted varying levels of it as we have slogged through the most challenging economic climate since the Great Depression.
This is apparently not enough to make marketers and sales professionals embrace change and develop a formal lead generation strategy, considering that 75% of marketers still don’t have a formal lead generation process or guidelines according to MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report.
This tells me they either
- have an impressively high pain tolerance, or
- have been blessed with an unusually beneficent marketplace.
I hope most of them are in the “B” category.
Because when we ignore the pain that should motivate us to change, it becomes increasingly worse until change happens. But, by that time, the result is often change we don’t want or expect.
If you’ve been feeling the pain of producing lead quality and quantity but don’t know what to do about it, keep reading. I’m going to give you what you need to start easing that pain now by developing a formal lead generation strategy with a universal lead definition (ULD). I’ll be teaching about ULDs at this week’s B2B Summit 2012 in Orlando.
What is a ULD?
A universal lead definition (ULD) clarifies what a lead is to everyone in your organization. It also:
- Fits the profile of your ideal customer
- Has been qualified as sales-ready
- Spells out the responsibilities and accountabilities of Sales and Marketing
- Makes Marketing and Sales more efficient
It should be applied to every lead regardless of its source – and sets the standard to determine which leads should be the highest priority.
How do I create one?
Bring Sales and Marketing together under the leadership of someone both teams trust and look up to the most.
Ask the sales team this critical question: “For us to be 100% certain that you will both act on a lead when we send it and provide feedback 100% of the time, what do you need to know? At what point do you consider a lead qualified?”Supplement this question with these:
- How can we raise the bar and give you better leads?
- What need makes a lead a good fit?
- What information is necessary to determine if a lead is worth the follow-through?
- What are the titles/job functions of economic buyers and influencers?
- What does this company value? What is its culture?
- What are the common business issues?
- What information do you need to qualify the lead as being sales-ready?
- What are the characteristics of the ideal sales opportunity?
- What are the questions you need answered before getting a lead?
- What information is must-have versus nice-to-have?
- What questions should we ask leads before passing them along?
Listen to what Sales has to say, and don’t interrupt. Every salesperson must participate.
Summarize the notes from this meeting, and then have another to clarify the definition and to attain everyone’s buy-in. Consensus is critical.
Publish the ULD everywhere so people who are involved in any aspect of new customer acquisition are constantly reminded of their goal.
Close the loop with huddles – biweekly face-to-face or voice-to-voice meetings. Don’t count on software to do it for you. Ask questions such as:
- Was X a lead?
- Did they enter the sales process?
- Why or why not?
- What else would you like to have known about this lead?
- What else can we improve?
- What should we start doing?
- What should we stop doing?
The upshot: There is no lead generation strategy without a ULD. If you don’t have one, follow the steps I’ve outlined and establish one now before the lead generation pain becomes so intense that you can no longer control outcomes.