Brian Carroll

Lead Generation: How 64% of marketers starve Sales of opportunity

Let’s say you’re dining out, and you order chicken pad thai. The waiter immediately trots out with a raw chicken breast, a bunch of whole carrots, a pile of bean sprouts, a handful of peanuts and some rice noodles, dumps them in front of you, and then walks away.

You wouldn’t think much of the chef, yes?

Frankly, you could rightfully draw the same conclusion if you extended that analogy to marketers. Unbelievably, most are still sending only raw leads to Sales, and they aren’t making an effort to bring those leads to a place where they’re ready for Sales to bite into. Consider data from a new report released by our sister company MarketingSherpa, the 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report (free excerpt at that link). The report compiled survey responses from nearly 2,000 organizations, of which 73% sell primarily to other businesses.

  • 64% of marketers still send all leads that respond to marketing campaigns directly to Sales

This is a costly mistake. In contacting even qualified leads for hundreds of leading B2B organizations over the years, I have found that only 5 to 40% are ready to buy right now. And, leads that are ready to buy right now are the only kinds of leads Sales really wants – they have quotas to meet, after all.  It’s no wonder 80% of Marketing-generated leads end up lost, ignored or discarded.

I am certain there are marketers who will read this and say, “Well, I would love to give Sales only qualified leads, but they are starving – they want every lead we get!”

If that’s the case, don’t let them discard the leads that aren’t ready to buy immediately. Make absolutely sure they give them back to you to nurture.

  • 59% still don’t have lead nurturing programs

You see, most of those leads will eventually buy from either you or a competitor, just not at this moment. However, since 59% of marketers don’t conduct lead nurturing, a lot of companies are conceivably giving those sales to competitors that do nurture their leads.

Lead nurturing is not unlike using a slow cooker. You can start with ingredients that don’t seem promising, but time will produce the delicious outcome for which you’re looking.

In a nutshell, lead nurturing keeps prospects engaged through a consistent, easy-to-follow “conversation” in which they are eager to be involved. It’s a gradual process that guides them from where they’re at right now to where you want them to be in the buying cycle. This conversation is supported by content such as articles, videos and whitepapers – information they really care about and that can help them make the best purchasing decision.

Please note: This content must benefit them whether they buy from you or not.  Never pitch products or services.

Find out more about lead nurturing here:  “Lead Nurturing: Build trust, win more deals by helping prospects – not selling them

Establishing a lead nurturing program is a powerful way to increase both quantity and quality of leads. Depending on the length of your sales cycle, it may take a few months before you start seeing results. However, it’s worth the effort: A strong lead nurturing program will remove the need to give raw leads to Sales and, instead, give them a steady stream of piping-hot leads that are ready and eager to move forward.

  • Companies that nurture leads receive a 45% higher return on lead generation investment

Making the effort to nurture leads will pay off handsomely, according to MarketingSherpa research. Lead nurturing companies report a 125% return on lead generation investment, compared to a mere 86% for companies that don’t bother with it.

This does not surprise me at all because organizations that nurture leads do a better job of keeping every one of them in the sales funnel.

In the video, “15 Years of Marketing Research Summed Up in 11 Minutes,” Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS, illustrates this point.

As Dr. McGlaughlin says, people are highly unlikely to fall through your sales and marketing funnel with grace and ease; they’re much more likely to fall out of it. You’re constantly fighting against competitive noise and internal distractions.

If prospects make it to the other end and close the deal, chances are they’ve gradually moved on a deliberate path, overcoming intense resistance. Lead nurturing helps remove that resistance to progress them more easily.

In summary, the days of generating leads and sending them off to Sales are long over. Sales doesn’t have the time or resources to bring the 60 to 95% that aren’t ready to speak with them to a place where they are. Because of that, you’re losing potential deals. Nurturing leads can ensure the best return on your lead generation investment by helping you give Sales what they want most: Only the most well-prepared, juiciest opportunities.

Related Resources:

Marketing Research in Action: 65% of B2B marketers are not nurturing

Lead Nurturing: 9 questions answered on lead qualification, nurturing, and Marketing-Sales alignment

Lead Nurturing: 12 questions answered on content, tactics and strategy

Universal Lead Definition: Why 61% of B2B marketers are wasting resources and how they can stop

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  1. | #1

    Brian,

    We have found that today’s prospect won’t even correspond with you until he has researched you, and determined that you are a credible, reliable authority in your genre. Nurturing programs are the perfect way to do that. And it makes the sales call much more efficient and effective when they are talking to someone who already has the basic questions answered (who are you, what do you do and how do you do it); that way, sales can concentrate on doing what they do best: selling.

  2. | #3

    “64% of marketers still send all leads that respond to marketing campaigns directly to Sales”

    Think about how much time your sales team wastes chasing unqualified leads. That’s countless hours that should be spent nurturing other prospects and slowly winning them over.

    • | #4

      Saurabh, precisely. Optimizing sales professionals’ time is an efficient way to build revenue without expanding the sales budget.

  3. | #5

    This could be the long-term effect of being too dependent on the lead generation tools. Sales leaders should be aware that spending more time in nurturing the prospects and making an effective follow-up is an important next step to the sales process. http://bit.ly/ayeen8

    • | #6

      Ayeen, agreed. Generating leads will always be important, we just have to optimize how we handle them afterward.

  4. | #7

    Brian,
    Always appreciate your insights and find myself in alignment.

    Thank you for elevating the prospecting role. When marketing and sales work together it speaks volumes. Especially today when identifying net new business involves more complexity and nurturing. I also agree with Ayeen when she states that some companies are becoming too reliant on “technology” to generate leads. Although valuable, a relationship starts when a personal connection is made.

    If all the stars don’t align immediately – which often they don’t; nurturing is key to ensuring the prospect stays connected to relevant information gathered along the way. We always encourage our clients to flip the leads back to us to nurture if they don’t move into their quarterly pipeline and it makes a big difference.

    Again, thanks and keep the stats coming!
    Rhonda

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