First of all, please note that in the title I used “we” not “they”. This is not a conspiracy theory.
On the other hand, the lastest and greatest marketing movements (of which I support wholeheartedly) forgot one thing: It’s hard to drive demand. Please, don’t get me wrong: Content marketing, inbound marketing, lead management, technology, et all are all the foundation for scalable, efficient revenue machines BUT there is so much that goes into driving demand besides the sexy topics. There is a lot to juggle.
Here are some of the things we forgot to tell you:
- You have to generate lots of leads to significantly impact revenue — If, I repeat “IF”, your conversion rate to opportunity is 10%, then you need 100 leads to drive 10 opportunities. If your conversation rate from qualified opportunity is 20%, then you generated 2 deals. That’s a lot of leads man, plan accordingly. I am telling you this so you can create a strategy that can guarantee the numbers you need at the top.
- Leads costs money — Driving demand is not cheap. It costs money from paid advertising like AdWords to tradeshows to third party lead vendors to appointment setting. (BTW, even content marketing costs money and resources.) Get budget and buy traffic or leads not because you want to, but because you have to. Find out where your buyer is hanging out and whip out the checkbook.
- Names or contacts are not counted as leads — A list of names from data.com is not a list of leads. Don’t get me wrong, you need to buy names to run marketing programs but those aren’t leads. Not yet at least.
- Marketing automation does not generate leads — This is important. Marketing automation is not the “Fabulous Lead Machine”. Yes, these systems will help support generating leads but the power really begins AFTER you have generated the lead. Then marketing automation manages the critical lead lifecycle which if you haven’t read already takes time. You have to have a plan to generate registrations or leads to feed the system. This effort comes at a cost (see #2).
- Inbound marketing takes months to show real returns– I love inbound marketing but it takes time to generate significant results. When I walk into a company, I bang my first on the table: “Inbound marketing or else!”. When they agree, I then say: “Okay, now lets figure out how to get leads for the next 9 months.”
- You can’t tell if someone is a buyer until they tell you — A proper lead generation plan thinks of a series of conversions. For example – Visitor – Lead – Qualified Lead – Opportunity. To get from lead to qualified lead, the buyer has to literally tell you they are qualified. The biggest misconception is that scoring solves this problem. It does not, it helps you predict who is more likely to be qualified but you still have to hear it from them or help coax it out of them. Now, this confirmation from the buyer can be over the phone or it can be in a “contact sales” form. (Note: Most companies still have someone call the “contact sales” leads to hear it verbally)
- The critical step of connecting with and talking to prospects is hard as hell — Man is it hard. I asked my buddies at Vorsight what they were seeing statistically and they sent me this: “22.5 dials to conversation is the industry average, but if you’re calling highly solicited divisions (i.e. IT or marketing) or very senior executives the number is closer to 30 dials to 1 conversation”. That’s crazy. But we have to talk to them or there is no conversion. From Mike Damphousse: “The sales cycle doesn’t start until a conversation with a prospect.” Marketers: This IS your problem. Remember, my earlier conversation rate numbers? If no one can reach the leads, then conversion rates get worse and your demand gen pain gets worse. The key is to make the process of converting leads to qualified leads part of the plan upfront. There are solutions — a sales development team, a multi-channel follow up plan (email, social, and phone), sales alerts from marketing automation vendors showing buyer web activity, messaging tactics, and dialing technology (Great posts on dialing technology options from CedarCone here.) A number of my tips are in a cold calling post I did awhile back.
- You care deeply about how sales converts the first call — Many marketers make the mistake of considering sales’ first call conversion “out of my hands”. My buddy Steve Hays at Insidesalesteam.com reminded me of this factor a couple weeks back when he talked about how much work his company does with clients on perfecting the first call or transition call. I was reminded of how in my previous life running a demand generation company how we used to save many failing programs by consulting our clients on their first call conversion.
- You care deeply about whether sales can close deals — Enlightened marketers are focusing their attention to pipeline acceleration efforts including content and technology. When starting out, worry about the entire revenue machine. It’s sales responsibility to close, but ask “how can I help?” I know you have a lot to worry about, but with added respect for the marketing function comes added responsibility for revenue.
Why did I write this post? Make a realistic plan that considers all the potential outcomes when launching demand generation. I have experienced first hand many great marketers start off on the wrong foot because they missed some things. It’s not your fault. We just forgot to tell you. (: