Marketing departments have become more and more sophisticated regarding demand generation. When I talk to sales organizations, however, they never tell me their marketing departments are doing a great job creating leads for them. When I sit down with the VP of Sales, I hear only concerns and complaints. I never hear accolades.
Why is that? What’s going on? If marketing is clearly getting better at demand gen, then why hasn’t its biggest customer---sales---congratulated them on the great job they’re doing and thanked them for their contribution?
There are three main reasons why your demand generation stinks.
- Getting bogged down in marketing automation
- The market intelligence gap
- Handing leads off to sales
Let’s look at it each of these reasons in greater depth.
Reason 1: Getting Bogged Down
Companies get bogged down in automation. While there’s no question that automation is a great marketing solution and creates significant efficiencies in the demand generation process, marketing automation is not as “automatic” as we’d like it to be.
A successful marketing automation implementation should have a significant “change management” component. That change management component gets the people, processes, and systems aligned, and it speeds up the changes needed for successful implementation.
In most cases, members of the marketing team have been trained in the new software, and they usually have an understanding of what change management is needed. However, unless the change management process is being driven by senior management, the change will be very slow.
When the change management process is slow, the people who interact directly with the marketing automation system will only be able to implement parts of that system. It’s a rare client that uses all the capabilities of their marketing automation system. That is primarily due to the marketing team focusing on getting a minimum implementation working effectively rather than optimizing their demand gen efforts by taking advantage of all the benefits system has to offer.
To improve the effectiveness of the marketing automation system and generate the right kind of leads, senior management must drive the change management process across the entire organization.
Reason 2: The Market Intelligence Gap
Marketing teams generally do a good job of understanding what buyers are going through early in the buyer’s journey. They closely monitor what their competitors aredoing and understand their competitors' positioning strategy. As a result, they understand what buyers have been exposed to already. By using a variety of social listening tools, competitive analysis, and market research, marketing is able to understand what buyers think about those competitive messages, messages from their own brand, and messages from customers and analysts.
But in our experience, where marketing fails is that they don’t share with the sales department these insights into what the buyer thinks with the sales department. We call this the Market Intelligence Gap.
Marketing is so focused on delivering leads that they fail to deliver critical information that would help the sales rep succeed with those leads. Marketing invests time and resources collecting market, customer, and prospect information, but rarely do they provide those key insights when a member of the sales team begins to engage with that buyer.
To maximize the value sales gets out of a lead, marketing needs to help sales “meet the buyers where they are,” based on the market intelligence that’s been gathered about what the buyers are going through.
Marketing can close the Market Intelligence Gap by designing an information delivery system around what’s needed by the sales teams during their direct communication with the buyer.
Reason 3: Handing Leads off to Sales
No matter how effective your marketing campaign is, or how qualified a lead appears to be when it’s handed off to sales, some percentage of those leads (typically a large percentage) are not ready for the sales team to take full ownership of them. This is why I suggest that marketing should not “hand off” leads to the sales department.
Instead of a lead handoff, marketing should introduce sales to a contact and/or company and establish a three-way relationship that encompasses both sales and marketing. This relationship will ebb and flow over time, and it will be influenced by factors that cannot be captured on any form.
So instead of having marketing hand off leads that have met certain criteria set by the sales department, let’s think about it this way instead: Marketing isn’t handing over a lead, marketing is introducing the sales rep to a contact to increase the value of that relationship. However, marketing hasn’t abandoned the relationship; they’ve only added a sales rep to the relationship.
No matter how qualified a lead appears to be when it’s introduced to sales, a good sales rep will go through a deeper level of qualification that can’t be captured via a simple MQL, SAL, or SQL formula. The subtleties of the sales process are what the sales rep is being paid to understand and uncover. That’s why a sales rep exists.
And, while the sales reps are doing their job, marketing is working in the background to ensure that both the sales rep and the buyer are getting the support they need from marketing. For example, the support might take the form of intelligence about a specific account for the sales rep or new content that might help the buyer overcome some objections.
All the things we’ve discussed require a different kind of thinking and a different level of investment by the marketing team, both during the marketing campaign and during the sales process. But this different level of strategic marketing investment is what can make the difference in your marketing ROI and make you feel proud about your demand generation results.