In the last five years, we've seen some significant advances in marketing technology. One byproduct of those advances is that B2B marketers are hyper-focused on lead generation. And once we found better ways to manage leads, we got hungry for more leads. Leads became an end goal.

As marketers have been under more pressure to prove ROI on their efforts, leads have been an easy KPI to measure.

Unfortunately, leads don't always lead to revenue, which is of course the most important KPI for any business. That's true for a few reasons. Most of the B2B buying process is anonymous. People are getting the information they need from a website or from social content sharing and not always electing to download gated content. Even if they eventually fill out a form, 75% of the buying process actually takes place before the hand-raise.

If Marketing is investing all its energy trying to convert those anonymous visitors to leads, they're missing out on the opportunity to drive revenue. That's because many of the companies that are your most desirable customers will never fill out a form. Think about it: When was the last time you filled one out?

Furthermore, B2B purchases are actually quite complex, in a way that makes targeting leads a less-than-relevant endeavor. Most B2B purchases—especially technology purchases—span multiple departments, which means that multiple stakeholders are involved in any buying decision. While Marketing is busy looking for more leads, Sales is trying to cultivate deeper engagement with multiple influencers at one company.

As an industry, we need to shift this lead-focused mindset.

Don't be afraid to go small

With the increased focused on leads, we've favored quality for quantity. We easily lose sight of the fact that leads do not automatically equal revenue, especially when Sales is always asking for more. In fact, when Sales has to spend hours going through stacks of leads, it's often wasted time, and Sales ends up complaining about lead quality. Marketing usually responds by delivering more leads, expending time and money to run SEO and paid-search campaigns, top-of-funnel display advertising, and catch-all retargeting tools that generate lots of leads.

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image of Gabe Rogol

Gabe Rogol is vice-president of sales at Demandbase, a B2B advertising, targeting, and personalization company.

LinkedIn: Gabe Rogol