It’s never been more important as a business leader to have a strong marketing function. With the continued rise of digital channels, prospective buyers are in control.
Companies who have traditionally relied on a strong outbound sales function to generate both demand and sales for your products or services will struggle more and more as power shifts to buyers.
However, the reality is that most marketing leaders aren’t equipped to take on the challenge of building a strong demand engine that fuels your company’s growth.
As CEO or CRO, there is a small change you can make that, if done correctly, can drive an outsized change in your marketing strategy and go-to-market approach.
That change starts by shifting your lead qualification to only passing leads with intent to Sales (i.e., Request a Demo, Trial, or Talk to Sales).
While this change seems inconsequential, it actually has a large ripple effect through your marketing and sales organization.
This shift will dramatically:
👉 Improve your marketing efficiency and skills
👉 Sharpen your company positioned in the market
👉 Optimize your economics on customer acquisition
When you restrict leads passed to sales to leads with intent, it forces your marketing to improve in 5 key areas:
1. Your Messaging & Positioning
How you position your company and products needs to be 10x better to drive a prospect into a buying process vs. ebooks/webinars, etc.
2. Paid Media Efficiency
While not all paid media is performance-based, measuring the spend against passed leads and pipeline conversion is a strong proxy for the effectiveness of your overall paid media mix.
3. Website Conversion
How a prospect lands on your website, educates, and enters the buying process carries a much higher premium vs. stuffing ebook downloads into an SDR queue.
4. Buyer Education
A key metric to track is “how educated are qualified leads on the 1st call?” More educated comes from better marketing and reduces pressure on sales.
5. Sharper definition of ICP
You will have a more consistent measurement of lead quality tied to how leads flow through your pipeline resulting in a faster and clearer definition of your ICP.
Marketers will have you believe this is a philosophical debate. That it is important to have both MQLs (marketing qualified leads) and SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) to measure effectiveness of each organization. This is ridiculous for two reasons:
👉 A lead is either qualified or it isn’t. Period.
👉 It’s an excuse used by your marketing and sales leaders to avoid working together.
At its essence, this is just poor, lazy, and outdated marketing (and sales for that matter).
However, going down this path presents two challenges for leadership:
👉 You have likely over-invested in your sales team to qualify poor leads. As a result, your lead flow will now go down, but the quality will increase, meaning you need fewer SDR/BDRs.
Considerations: You will likely need to make a decision to shift investment in your sales team to your marketing team to ramp up demand generation activities. This means, unfortunately, reducing the size of your sales organization at the same time you are looking to grow. This change can be a tough explanation, but if done correctly you will get more leverage out of the investment in marketing than sales.
👉 Your marketing leader may not be suited for this new world. This new world puts a premium on creative and data-savvy marketers who can drive a strong vision.
Considerations: You are faced with the very real possibility that your marketing leader isn’t capable or willing to make this type of transformation. This realization means you may need to make a tough decision to change out your marketing leadership.
Of course, these decisions cannot be taken lightly.
Often this change is placed on the shoulders of marketing leadership. However, in reality – it’s a shift that the entire organization needs to get behind.
Once you have made the commitment to go down this path, you will want to ensure that culturally there is no turning back. That any passive aggressive behavior is squashed and resistance is futile.
This is done by holding your marketing and sales leader accountable to the above by making the decisions and metrics that govern the agreement transparent to everyone in your company.
You do this by making the common definition “lead passed to sales” metric visible to everyone, including when the definition changes. Then, track how these leads are tracked through the pipeline and convert to revenue.
At the highest level:
👉 Hold your marketing team accountable for increasing the number of leads passed to sales based on the agreed definition AND the readiness of each lead to enter the buyer journey.
👉 Hold your sales team accountable for following up with each of the leads passed to them and running a best-in-class sales process for converting leads to customers.
To summarize, here are the key points & action items:
- Shifting your lead qualification process to leads with intent improves your marketing.
- Create a common set of qualification criteria between marketing and sales and pass only those leads that meet the criteria to sales.
- Hold marketing accountable to driving more qualified leads and sales accountable for lead follow-up and conversion.
- Make this agreement and the metrics that govern visible to everyone in your company to drive accountability.
- Follow through on the organizational changes required to optimize your talent and fund the changes in process.