Talkin’ About Lead Generation
A business owner was struggling to understand the marketing plan he’d just received. The plan listed a series of email campaigns, webinars and a drip marketing (nurturing) series, along with estimated response rates and conversion rates.
“What I don’t get is how these campaigns are going to turn into sales. How do I know this will work?”
The marketing consultant explained that the response rates were industry estimates coupled with “gut feel”, given that the company had not tracked marketing results of any kind.
“Why can’t you tie this more precisely to revenue?” he asked.
That Happened Here?
The business owner had made an assumption that the consultant never anticipated. He thought the purpose of the marketing campaigns were to sell his services. The consultant realized that she needed to explain the concept of lead generation because she assumed he understood. The consultant and business owner were not looking at the marketing plan through the same lens.
Marketing’s function in the sales process is to identify and cultivate leads for the sales team (in a small company this may even be the business owner). By collecting contact and other information, and by providing valuable information or tools to the prospect, Marketing kicks that lead over to Sales at a predetermined step (we call this lead qualification) in the sales funnel. The more complex and high-ticket the sale, the more personal interaction will take place to close the deal and the longer the sales cycle. Marketing can help shorten the sales cycle by continuing to provide relevant information to the prospect as they advance through the buying cycle, but they do not “sell”.
Unless your business model is a transactional, one-step process (click or call to buy), some additional sales interaction is required by a human. This is a fundamental concept, but one that should not be overlooked when setting expectations for a marketing program. You need to figure in both time and cost for the sales process, and not expect that Marketing will seal the deal.