I hear this a lot from many VPs of Marketing: “My biggest problem is leads. And my next biggest problem is leads. And the biggest problem after that is leads.” This issue dominates every conversation the VP of Marketing has with the VP of Sales.
An important part of the marketing mix is to help the VP of Marketing address this issue by helping him provide the sales organization with leads. However, an exclusive focus on leads is a mistake. Certainly, one of the VP of Marketing’s critical job responsibilities is to provide leads to the sales organization, but focusing on leads just because the sales organization demands them is not a guarantee of success. Nor is it necessarily the right thing to do.
Quantity is not better than Quality
Any good VP of Sales will tell you, “We need both greater quantity and greater quality.” But, in reality, it’s the responsibility of Marketing to determine which one is a higher priority.
Though many sales organizations receive a sufficient quantity of leads, this doesn’t prevent the lag on sales. What they need are higher quality leads, which will greatly simplify their job. No more sifting through low quality leads!
It is possible then, that a more effective marketing mix might focus less on generating leads, and more on improving the quality of those leads. By working closely with the sales team, you can help them determine which of these is the best solution.
Make sure you’re targeting the right audience
The second reason why the marketing campaign shouldn’t always focus exclusively on leads is that you may not be targeting the right audience. Leads are useless to a sales organization unless they target the right kinds of buyers. Make sure your demand generation efforts are aimed at an audience that has a deep need for your product. You may generate semi-qualified leads from people who have a minimal need for your product, and who are happy to talk to your sales reps, but that doesn’t solve any problems of the sales organization. To perform high-level product marketing, you need to work on demand generation; you need to reach people with the greatest need for your product. In other words, you need leads that come from the right target audience.
Understanding the needs of your target audience
The third point is this: do you really understand the needs of your target audience? You can spend a lot of money on demand generation efforts aimed at the right target audience, but you might not be getting the type of response you want.
In many cases, Marketing should clearly identify the buyer’s key pain points, and develop messaging that addresses those pain points. Only then should Marketing focus on generating leads.
Is demand generation what you need?
The final point is that you should not assume lead generation is the most important function of product marketing for you. It is certainly crucial, but does lead generation actually have the greatest impact on your sales cycle? Leads are measurable, so often times we want to put our focus here.
But what if the key obstacle to selling isn’t the number of leads, but rather a lack of awareness? In this case, part of your marketing mix should go toward lead generation, but most of your efforts should be focused on creating awareness.
Awareness is a harder sell to the sales organization because it occurs earlier in the sales funnel and doesn’t have an automatic impact on the bottom line. You can’t easily measure a conversion to sale. Nevertheless, if your products lack customer awareness, you should invest a great deal to make improvements in this area. That way, when a demand generation campaign carries the right message to the right audience, buyers will react in a positive way and become high quality, qualified leads.
Thus, a marketing campaign should focus on the area that will have the greatest impact on the organization’s bottom line, and sometimes that won’t mean generating more leads.
What has your experience been, in focusing just on leads?
Glenn Gow is an expert in marketing performance, Coach, Board Advisor, Author, Speaker, Podcast Host and Founder & Advisor of Crimson Marketing. Follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+. To get a free copy of Crimson’s One-Page Marketing Metrics Funnel, visit here.