When I was a kid, my mother would speak happily about getting visits from the local milkman. He was someone the whole neighborhood knew and trusted, and though he was a salesman – selling all sorts of dairy products, not just milk– the way she spoke about him told me that he was a helpful, thoughtful person in the community.
The personal connection is what struck me most – someone who actually cared about what you needed. Unfortunately, by the time I was growing, the days of milkmen were long gone.
The era of MASS marketing and sales had dawned, bringing about the slow demise of the personal, human connection with which my mother grew up. And, today, I’d say the buyer and the seller are even more disintermediated, despite the use of “technology” to give us more information about one another.
This missing “personal, human” connection is the root cause of why Salespeople often find that “Marketing Qualified Leads”…SUCK.
At the same time, the availability of that information can give one the impression that you “know” someone – even though there is no personal connection whatsoever. In this article, I’m going to talk about how we handle this disconnection and how we as marketers can change our points of reference to leverage digital tools to equip salespeople with better opportunity data.
With the rise of competition, product commoditization, and disintermediation of the channel, the marketplace stopped buying on cue and sellers lost confidence in the ‘leads’ that marketing was giving them. To meet this challenge, call centers were established with relentless, quota-driven telemarketers in pursuit of “leads” to arm the salesforce with, which in many cases were individuals with little interest in the offerings being sold…it’s become clear that not all leads are created equal.
As the CEO of a digital agency specializing in B2B and information technology, I talk to both marketing and sales professionals from all kinds of businesses. The other day, I spoke with the head of marketing (lets call her Carol) from a midsize distributor.
Carol heard me give a presentation for a large tech client of mine, during which I talked about my company’s unique approach to establishing relationships with potential buyers INSTEAD of setting appointments or filling the funnel with form submissions; this alternative approach struck a cord with her.
Carol’s journey, like many marketing professionals started at a digital marketing workshop hosted by a vendor, a year before. Following her completion of the workshop, Carol decided to double down on content marketing expecting a flood of ‘leads’, as suggested in the workshop, if she did everything ‘right’.
She wrote and posted blogs, sent out tweets, developed whitepapers, published articles, contributed comments and used her social media accounts to share like crazy.
She was so focused on filling the funnel - using content, that she hardly had time to do anything else. Not surprisingly, she did get results – in the form of increased web traffic, downloads and form submissions, but no sales.
Excitedly, Carol walked into her performance review armed with hundreds of ‘marketing leads’ for which she was expecting to be congratulated on - for all her hard work. Instead, her boss told her “Carol, YOUR marketing leads suck!”. I could feel her disappointment over the phone. And, her utter confusion. How could this be possible – she did everything right…didn’t she?
As an industry, we need to address this problem, and fast. Point in fact, Carol DID do everything right, but the definition of ‘right’ is what’s fundamentally wrong. The marketing industry (agencies and solution providers) have mistakenly perverted the term ‘lead’ to mean something it’s not and this is where the problem lies.
Here’s why typical marketing leads suck:
Now, let’s get back to Carol who had become deflated by her boss’s reaction, wanting to know what she had done wrong.
My response to her was – No, of course not. But she had been doing it out of context. You have to stitch all of these programs and tactics together in a meaningful way. It’s critical to ensure you not only have a good process to identify, engage and qualify the people who drop into your buying funnel, but also, to implement a real and meaningful process to nurture them. Nurture doesn’t mean sending out emails over a 6-month period. Instead, nurture means really getting to know these individuals.
You must understand the need to nurture and meet it. Track these contacts on social media via Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn and learn what they are ‘liking’ and posting. Like those things too and maybe even share an article they’ve promoted. Congratulate them on their job anniversary, on an award they recently won, send them a note and even share a funny joke.
Have you gotten similar confessions from your clients? Are you questioning your own marketing tactics and the results – or are just experiencing a lack of leads? What do you do to make sure your marketing leads don’t suck? I want to know.
In the next article, we will talk about how to start building relationships through your marketing tactics. And you do that with integrated, marketing programs.
I look forward to your comments and ideas. Let’s start a whole new era of more successful marketing together!
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