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Fighting the Lead Generation Battle with Big Data

by Amanda Maksymiw  |  
March 27, 2013

Many organizations struggle with sales and marketing alignment. In companies both large and small, Sales and Marketing are commonly at odds.

In a recent survey of more than 1,200 executives, research firm CSO Insights uncovered that lead generation is one of the top challenges dividing sales and marketing organizations and leaving revenue goals in danger.

  • Two-thirds of companies surveyed have cited that their lead-generation functions need improvement.

  • Less than two-thirds of sales reps hit their quota for 2012.

  • Revenue targets were up 16% in 2012, the largest increase since the 2008 recession, putting a greater stress on the lead generation gap.

Sales and Marketing are two worlds with one mission. Sound familiar?

Let’s take a deeper look at the battle over lead generation.

Round 1: The Shortcoming of Marketing Generated Leads

In many organizations, Marketing is not generating enough leads for Sales. Of the companies surveyed, Marketing generates only 30% of leads required by Sales to meet the quota. What’s more, nearly 50% surveyed believe that Marketing-generated leads are subpar in quality. That creates a tremendous gap, leaving salespeople executing against rogue tactics, such as creating ad hoc email blasts, developing presentations, developing websites, and hosting webinars without input or help from the Marketing Department.

Round 2: Confusion About Lead Nurturing

CSO Insights also uncovered an issue with the management of leads that are not quite ready to close. In some organizations, Marketing informally runs lead incubation (26%); in other organizations, Sales owns it completely (27%); and in the majority of organizations, it is split between Sales and Marketing (46%). Some leave those leads stranded, without any one leading the charge (6%). Who should own lead nurturing? From the survey, there doesn't seem to be a clear best practice answer.

Round 3: The Data Knockout

After spending time on lead generation, researching new accounts and trying to close deals, sales professionals have very little time left to incubate existing leads. The survey revealed that sales reps are spending 20% of their workweek on account research and lead generation. (That’s one entire day!)

Now, spending time researching isn’t necessarily a bad practice. Many stellar sales reps are excellent at hunting for insights to help them build rapport with prospects more easily. But in the age of Big Data where nuggets about a market segment are pouring from social media, marketing automation, news alerts, CRM, and more, sales reps are being walloped with the amount of data available.

How Marketing Can Lessen The Blow

Sales pros are looking for help from their Marketing counterparts. CSO Insights found that over 40% of respondents indicated they’d like to have more support from Marketing on data and insight about accounts and opportunities. In addition, sales professionals are also looking to improve their approach to account prioritization. By analyzing the greatest pain point for Sales, Marketing can work to fend off the major punches, such as research and prioritization, by arming the sales team with key information and insight from Big Data. And in doing so, they’ll start fighting the same fight, putting an end to the longstanding Sales-Marketing lead-generation battle.

For more statistics about the battle over lead generation, view the infographic.

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