In this guest post, Michael Savanis (pictured below), APAC VP & managing director for digital marketing firm ON24 says data’s not about making more leads for a business, it should be about making better leads…
I’m calling BS on all of the ‘marketing-sales alignment’ talk, because most sales organisations in Australia have zero visibility when it comes to pre-marketing qualified lead activity. When you look across the marketing technology stack, very few technologies give sales meaningful visibility into the insights that qualified the lead; because whether a prospect opened an email offers zilch to sales in a follow-up conversation.
In fact most marketing and sales teams are working in silos, and Australian marketers are still putting disproportionate emphasis on demographic data — indicators like industry, job title and company revenue — as a cheap heuristic to tell them which leads are worth pursuing.
When it comes to data, it’s time we stopped being so afraid of getting our hands dirty.
Because this demographic data actually tells us a lot more about the markets we want to attract than it says about the prospects who are most interested in our products. It also means that, in order to keep the pipeline full, we have to compensate for sub-par conversion rates by cramming more low-quality leads into the top of the machine.
It’s frustrating for marketing, frustrating for sales, and frustrating for consumers who keep getting hit with your broad messaging that doesn’t appeal to them.
And while sales may be asking for “MORE LEADS!” (which has pretty much become the punchline for most Australian marketers), what they’re really asking for is better leads. Too often we respond to this pressure by designing programs that generate a large number of leads, regardless of quality. This results a high quantity of low quality leads that cost more in sales follow-up than they return in conversions.
What we really need to look to is reliable, high-quality behavioural lead scoring to streamline our entire lead process and drive up those important metrics like pipeline and conversions.
DEMOGRAPHIC DATA VS BEHAVIOURAL DATA
Often a prospect who hits all our demographic marks is, from a sales perspective, a dead end. Even though they looked perfect on paper, they just weren’t looking for a solution like ours.
Of course, that’s assuming that we have nothing but demographic data. If all we know is the prospect’s industry and job title, anyone can look like a perfect ﬁt. If we expand our view to include behavioural data, the picture is quite different. That’s because the way prospects engage with our content will tell us how interested they really are. By shifting from an exclusive focus on demographic data to a blend of demographic and behavioural data, we can deliver leads that are less expensive to pursue and more likely to end in a sale.
Most marketing campaigns only deliver demographic data, usually through a download or registration form. While this data is valuable, it takes multiple touches before we can even begin to build a behavioural proﬁle on that contact.
SYMPATHY FOR THE SALES REP
This is going to sound counter-intuitive but STOP inundating sales with leads. When we ﬂood sales with non-qualiﬁed leads, they have no way of knowing which prospects are the most valuable. Instead they have to treat all leads equally, which forces them to spend valuable time chasing down leads that could quite literally be junk.
In marketing, we tend to have a pretty broad interpretation of leads. Anyone who ﬁlls out a form, no matter how likely that prospect is to buy, has for a long time been considered a “lead.” Sales tend to take a more conservative stance on leads though, and often to the point of using different terminology for prospects.
If you want to satisfy sales, feed them qualiﬁed leads with a behavioural proﬁle that will actually make the follow up faster and more effective. That might mean fewer leads, but the higher close ratio means there will be more total conversions. And that, after all, is what everyone wants when they call for “more leads”.
INTEGRATED SALES AND MARKETING TEAMS
B2B buyers have changed more in the past five years than they have in the past 20. Today’s consumer is self-directed, extremely knowledgeable and tech-savvy, and the holistic experience they crave now requires marketing and sales to be in sync across the entire cycle.
Australian organisations need to begin embracing new constructs, and consider new job roles and talent programs. Leaders must introduce new tools that foster collaboration into the enablement stack, while focussing on shared revenue responsibility. Companies could even look to a monthly exchange of roles in order to promote empathy.
Organisations will succeed when they implement a robust strategy in which both teams invest. This approach is no longer aspirational but a necessary reality.