Over the last fifteen years, I’ve seen a marked shift in the bigger picture of how sales and marketing teams interact, and function. As a veteran salesperson who speaks to salespeople regularly, I recall a general sales and marketing paradigm in the late 90s concerning the roles of both departments.
It was the role of MARKETING to:
- Build out content for sales collateral
- Identify traditional ways to reach the marketplace - like radio, television, and newspaper/magazine ads.
- Develop the website as an online business card with this infant marketing tool called the World Wide Web.
On the other side of the coin, it was the role of SALES to:
- Cold call prospects.
- Conduct presentations.
- Close opportunities.
Of course, I’m speaking in broad generalities there, but typically the functions of sales and marketing were siloed, and in most organizations, still are.
I worked in a few organizations (and maybe yours was similar) where salespeople felt like marketing just “didn’t get it” and that the marketing leads they provided were merely business cards in a fish bowl.
Marketing had some frustration, also. “These aren’t ‘fish bowl’ leads. And why aren’t you following up on the leads we give you?”
Several months ago I attended a Sirius Decisions summit where they addressed this topic. Clearly things have changed and marketing has now identified ways to leverage the website as a “lead trap” though SEO, SEM, Social Media marketing, and online branding.
So the question becomes: How do you set the lead trap? And what’s the best way to handle inbound leads?
I’ve witnessed several organizations where leads that come in through the website from calls-to-action and form conversions go to a designated sales rep or sales manager. There isn’t any lead qualification. So what’s the result? The sales rep diverts from his primary function of closing opportunities to chase down an inbound lead. In fact, The Bridge Group says that it takes an average of 6.5 touches to convert a suspect into a prospect.
So not only does the sales rep divert his time, he may tend to get frustrated by the lack of filtering because the company he called is nowhere close to being a qualified target; it’s just another “fish bowl” lead.
The lead generation function has seen an overhaul in recent years. Just last year, The Bridge Group reported that 50% of lead generation teams reported to Marketing, up from 30% in 2009.
Vendere Partners has developed a revolutionary service offering called Converged Sales and Marketing (CSM). We have begun working with our clients to align sales and marketing by utilizing a Prospect Manager as the bridge. The Prospect Manager or Lead Generator qualifies and schedules appointments for sales through traditional methods such as email marketing campaigns, prospect lists and events.
As an added component, the inside sales person filters the incoming leads. Although, what a lot of organizations leave out of the mix are those prospects that visit your website and leave without filling out a form. There are plenty of solutions out there that can tell you the company information by doing a reverse look-up on IP addresses.
The challenge is: What do you do with that information? You give it to the Lead Generator, also! It becomes another invaluable lead source.
Our data shows us that website visitors, as a lead source, can be variable. In other words, out of 10 visitors, you may only be able to really identify 3 companies by IP address, but they are still viable leads.
Why does prospecting always have to be an uphill battle? It doesn’t. Whether you leverage a CSM model internally or outsource lead generation functions to a company like Vendere Partners, it is a must-do for any Sales and/or Marketing professional. Sales will finally get the QUALIFIED leads they need, and Marketing is recognized for a MEASURABLE CONTRIBUTION. Win-win; everyone is happy.