The Lead Quality Challenge

It’s no question that the alignment challenge between sales and marketing affects lead quality and revenue generation. Both sides have long struggled to find a way to foster collaboration, but it’s a tough road to navigate.

On February 24, 2022, we discussed the lead quality challenge during the live forum “How to Fire up Your Lead Quality”. It was a chance to ask industry experts their thoughts on the issues they see in their own organizations.

Below are the 4 main questions B2B marketers asked, along with the answers from our guest speakers.

Question 1 | “Sales has a short-term mindset. Marketing has a long-term mindset. How can you drive alignment when these two departments have completely different priorities and timelines of achieving goals?”

According to Darci Evanish, Head of Revenue Marketing, Americas at Poly, it comes down to 4 things:

  1. Define roles: There must be agreement and understanding at a leadership level of the role marketing and sales will play. If you don’t have this, it’s going to be hard for people in the trenches to find balance.
  2. Confirm strategic priorities: There needs to be an honest conversation about strategic priorities. For example, if you have significant growth expectations, but are investing more in maintenance, you have to be realistic about what is possible.
  3. Agree on timelines: It’s important to ensure the goals are relevant to the timeframe. For example, when reviewing the volume of leads into the funnel, you need to look at the appropriate timeline to measure performance based on the sales cycle. You don’t want to look three months into a twelve month sales cycle and say that your volume of leads are not strong.
  4. Identify potential risks: It’s always beneficial to highlight potential risks, particularly if there are competing priorities. For example, you may have marketing tasked with driving a certain number of qualified net new customer leads.  However, sales is focused on increasing share of wallet within existing customer accounts. What if sales feels like marketing should be supporting activities to increase share of wallet? Leadership must agree on marketing’s role to ensure the critical business goals have the right support, and that expectations are clear for everyone. 

Question 2 | “How can you change sales’ mindset to understand the importance of marketing’s goal of building a strong brand?”

During the forum, Darci reminded attendees that this concept doesn’t just relate to sales.  Everyone in the organization is involved in sales in some capacity. Anyone who touches some aspect of the customer life cycle could potentially impact sales. 

There are 2 main ways to reinforce the value of a strong brand with all stakeholders, from sales and finance to legal:

  1. Remind colleagues of the complicated customer journey: Customers have many opportunities to get educated before they even engage with sales.  Without a focus on developing brand awareness and recognition, every sales engagement would be a cold call. And no one in sales wants to be doing cold calls all the time.
  2. Share data: Stress the importance of the role that marketing plays and share any relevant data that confirms their impact. Perhaps it’s conversion rates through the funnel, time to revenue, average deal size or brand affinity. These proof points showcase the impact of brand marketing.

Question 3 | “How can we present simplified information to sales around the types of leads we have, and not over complicate each stage of the funnel?”

For this question, Darren Rabie, Sales Consultant and Coach, stressed the importance of agreeing on shared definitions.  If marketing and sales do not agree on key definitions (unqualified, disqualified, qualified, future and active lead), you are dead in the water.

For example, if you ask the sales team to define a qualified lead, they are going to tell you that it is someone who is ready to buy tomorrow. But, if you ask marketing to define a qualified lead, they will tell you it is anyone who has the capacity to buy something that we sell at some point.

Question 4 | “What are some tips on how to get leadership on board, especially on the sales side?”

For both Darci and Darren, it was all about metrics.  Make metrics something that your teams are sitting down and talking about every month. Look at your definitions for unqualified, marketing qualified, sales qualified leads.  Then, look at how many of them have gone to quotes, how many have gone to sales, what are you doing about it, and what you are not doing about it. 

Ultimately it must come back to the revenue attainment.  This means the funnel metrics, the conversion rates, how you’re achieving year over year, or against goals and industry benchmarks. You must be able to focus on actual results, not vanity metrics, because this is what will get sales leadership on board. 

Looking for more on how to improve lead quality in your organization?

  1. Check out 2 Tools that will instantly help sales and marketing alignment in your organization.
  2. Watch the full M2 forum recording.

Have another question that wasn’t asked?

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