Two Revelations That Still Shock Me

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I don’t know why I’m still shocked when I hear the same pain points: one in marketing, one in sales. Marketing wants lead gen – we need more leads. Sales wants more wins, but the close rate remains low.

When I ask marketing what they are looking for, I’m shocked that they aren’t looking for leads. They aren’t even looking for marketing qualified leads. They are looking for activity. They want warm bodies that have opened an email or filled in a form on the website to download a whitepaper. And they are going to throw these “warm bodies” over the wall to sales and claim victory.

Certainly we all need “activity” as a precursor to get the leads we need to close business, but if your goal in marketing is to generate activity only, you are really missing the boat. Marketers must think beyond traditional lead generation and activity generation. Marketers must better understand how to deliver Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) because in the end, it will come back to you, marketing, as not delivering what sales needs to close business. And who can blame sales – it’s tough to get someone who opened an email to take a phone call. What percentage of these activities translate into a first call for a salesperson? It’s difficult enough to get a MQL to move to a first call with a sales person but someone who is barely a warm body with potentially no other qualifications such as title, company size, or other behaviors that indicate a possible interest usually proves impossible. Must I remind everyone of the Corporate Executive Board stat that prospects are going through 60% of the buy cycle without talking to a person at that vendor?

The other shocking revelation I keep running into is on the sales side. Ok you can keep raising quotas but unless something changes in the current sales process, your win rate is still going to be below 50% (and this year the CSO Insights’ study found it went down again). Marketing can deliver leads, and sales can find their own, but unless the salesperson is guided through a proven success process, knows what to say to communicate value and can disarm any objection, they won’t move any lead to close. And this issue is becoming greater as sales cycles are becoming much more complex. When you have prospects coming into a first call with a salesperson and they have already done their research on the topic, identified their needs, and researched options, they expect a salesperson to be their consultant, not sell a product. Companies need to give sales people the tools, techniques, content and insights to be that consultant.

Both marketing and sales need to get with it. Marketing must stop generating activity and take responsibility to generate marketing qualified leads. Sales needs to stop adding administrative burdens onto the sales rep and provide them the tools, techniques, insights and content to help them do their job. By doing this sales management will get the actionable insights that are being uncovered to help sales coaching.

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