Last week we conducted a webinar with a marketing organization called “Revenue 2012: Making It Happen vs. Hoping It Happens.” As part of the registration process we asked CEOs and salespeople to tell us about their top priorities as they plan for 2012. Almost 30 percent of the respondents said their top priority for next year was to improve or optimize their lead-generation processes. Not really a surprise since many companies struggled in 2011 to achieve both their bookings and revenue objectives. Lead optimization is critical to your survival. So, how can you build a process that works for you?
Lead generation has traditionally been a function of the marketing department and is often done in a silo with little input from sales. This doesn’t mean that the sales department has no role in the process. If salespeople get involved in defining the lead-generation process, it actually makes it easier to streamline and optimize the lead-management strategies. It allows both teams to collaboratively define the “perfect prospect.” There is continuing dialogue about the need for sales and marketing alignment, and collaboration on this important part of the process is a good first step. Below is a possible framework to consider:
Mutually define a “qualified lead.” By mutually agreeing on the definition of a lead, sales will be getting the leads they want and the marketing organization can laser focus their lead-generation activities. If you don’t have a good lead definition, the sales teams will continue to self-select prospects and any demand-generation programs in place will have diluted results. The other benefit is that the sales organization will have no excuse for not acting promptly when leads are generated, as they have agreed on the qualification process.
Communicate. Sales and marketing core teams should meet a minimum of once a month to discuss the effectiveness of the lead-generation program. By determining which lead areas are providing the highest results, the marketing team can adjust their focus even further. This forum also allows for open dialogue between the teams to continue fostering the alignment lacking in most firms. After all, both organizations have the same goal, and it helps to feel like you are a united team. This meeting can also be used to discuss upcoming campaigns, programs and messaging calendars.