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ClickInsights: Biggest Roadblock to Converting Marketing Leads

What is the next logical step once you have managed to get high quality leads?

One of the goals of marketing is to generate leads. What is the next logical step once you have managed to get high quality leads? Yes, getting those leads into the sale pipeline. 

We have invited B2B Experts to shed light on the following question: "What is the biggest roadblock to converting marketing leads into the sales pipeline? How do marketers overcome this roadblock?".  Read on to get their insights.

Ardath Albee

Blog Marketing Interactions Twitter Ardath421

Ardath Albee Content Marketing Expert
"Don't focus on short-term campaigns"

Ardath Albee's Bio

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist. Her company Marketing Interactions helps companies with complex sales and quantify marketing effectiveness by using interactive e-marketing strategies driven by compelling content. She empowers her clients to create customer-centric nurturing programs that leverage strategic story development to engage prospects until they are sales ready. Ardath’s book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale is now shipping! 

Ardath Albee's Tip

Short Termism
B2B marketing programs tend to focus on short-term campaigns designed to achieve company goals without regard to prospects’ needs and timelines. Part of this is due to the budget structure that allocates funding based on financial quarters. But, it’s also the company’s need for instant gratification. Salespeople need leads—right now. So marketing tries to feed the pipe. They may find some success by stumbling across prospects who are ready, but they tend to overlook the potential of those who aren’t.

If your company’s sales cycle is 9 months and you run 3-month campaigns—switching focus along with a change in quarter—you’re leaving most of your prospects hanging. The message you send them is that your marketing efforts are really all about you, not them. This gives them incentive to look elsewhere for more information on the topic you abandoned in mid-stream. Research showing that 79% of leads never become opportunities backs up the premise that our marketing efforts aren’t creating the best results across the long term.

If marketers want to overcome this roadblock, they need to create programs to match their prospects’ needs at every stage of the buying process. The mindset shift is that marketing isn’t a series of campaigns but rather an ongoing, consistent process that educates prospects about what they need to know; showcases your company’s expertise to add value to the product offering; and proves that what you say is true.

Consider adding progressive measures across your marketing initiatives that show momentum in addition to the number of qualified leads being sent to sales. Once you achieve the tipping point, you’ll find that it’s an easier proposition to build on that momentum for a continuous stream of prospects who become sales ready.

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Seamus Walsh

Blog B2BContentMarketing Twitter SeamusWalsh

Seamus Walsh"Disconnect between sales and marketing"

Seamus Walsh's Bio

Seamus Walsh founded VAZT Global Inc. in January 2008. Seamus' passion for sales, sales process and excellence enabled him to develop a platform that "finds, cares and feeds" prospects until they are ready to buy. Prior to forming VAZT, Seamus worked in sales and strategic account management for The Hackett Group, a strategic advisory and management consulting firm in Atlanta, For Gartner, a research, advisory and consulting company in Stamford, CT and Cambridge Technology Partners, a web development company, prior to its acquisition by Novell. Seamus resides in Essex Junction, VT with his wife and four children.

Seamus Walsh's Tip

The biggest roadblock is having a disconnect between sales and marketing. Marketing collects information from companies expressing interest in a product or service and typically sends this "lead" onto sales. If the lead is not what sales considers to be qualified, or if marketing has a history of sending poor leads to sales, sales will not follow-up (or will follow-up half-heartedly) so the leads will not end up in the pipeline. This problem is exacerbated if marketing's goals are based on quantity of leads without metrics factoring in quality of leads.
 
Marketing can overcome this roadblock several ways:

  • Make sure that incentives align to desired behavior and that goals are understood and accepted across the executive suite. If the company's goal is for marketing to produce more leads that end up in the sales pipeline, then metrics and bonuses should be established for targets and progress tracked towards the achievement of those targets.
  • Develop a common taxonomy and understanding between sales and marketing, defining what is meant by "lead," "qualified lead," "pipeline status," etc.
  • If sales has a standard sales process or methodology, make sure that marketing understands the process and participates in any formal sale training if at all possible. Marketing cannot help sales if they don't understand the specific criteria for sales' success and the obstacles faced across the sales cycle.
  • Develop and implement marketing programs at the account-based (or segment-based) level. The more personalized or account specific the marketing messages and programs are, the more likely that generated leads will be from potential (or "qualified") buyers. At the very least, get input from respected sales agents and managers when developing marketing programs designed to generate leads. 

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More Stories By Ambal Balakrishnan

Ambal has robust 17+ years experience working at and partnering with high-profile technology companies in both B2B and B2C marketplaces building scalable, reliable, high performance products (both hardware and software) for business with multi-billion dollar in annual revenue. She has done various roles that includes engineering, program management, business development, strategy and marketing for premium and fast growing product divisions at Cisco, Telecordia (prior name Bell Labs) and strategic marketing consulting firm ClickDocuments. At Cisco, she focused on world wide marketing and positioning of Cisco's Cloud & Data Center switching business. She brings both strong engineering & marketing skills with verticals experience from many different industries. Ambal received her Masters in Computer Science from Purdue University and an MBA in Marketing, Strategy and Entrepreneurship from Wharton University of Pennsylvania. Ambal is an avid reader and hiker. Her hiking pursuits have taken her to several mountains including Mt. Whitney at 14,500 feet (which she managed to climb in 1 day). Ambal lives in Austin, TX with her family of 3 boys (that includes her husband!) and a border-collie+lab mix dog named Rainbow.

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