And lead gen is a monster.
Lead gen effects everything. All the new search engine rankings and well organized content I have been working on for the past 6 months have no value if it doesn't turn into more leads and more sales. Lead gen is where the rubber meets the road for marketing.
Seems pretty straight forward--count how many leads come in and see if the number goes up or down over time. Overlay that with marketing activities and you have a game plan. Simple, right? Not really. There are so many different ways to count what a lead is it is astounding. And every manager/client has their own definition.
Marketing looks at every inquiry as a lead. If a person is contacting the company for information about a product they are not already buying, they are a lead. Primarily these leads come through the website and the call center. Two totally different systems to sort through and try to synchronize.
Sales is looking for "opportunities"--inquiries that have been qualified and are likely to buy in the near future. It's not good enough that a person shows interest, they have to be able to buy the product. In B2B lead gen, that is not always self evident. To buy the product, they have to be able to make a purchasing decision and they have to have the budget (we have some expensive products), among other things.
Account management is looking for revenue growth from existing customers. Retention marketing gives a whole different spin to lead gen. These are leads for up-sells and additional licenses and add-ons and platform migrations. A completely different set of goals with a completely different market interacting with completely different corporate systems. Whereas marketing goals set you on a path to sales goals, account management goals are a whole other world.
So, what are my take-aways from this situation?
- Understand that every department has it's own goals. As consumers of the data, they will each be looking for something that is potentially unique to them.
- Establish the definitions. A "lead" to one group may not mean the same thing to anther group. This becomes really confusing in large meetings, trust me.
- Learn where the data is coming from. When looking at corporate lead gen efforts, you need to have an open mind about sources. A well executed outbound calling effort may knock the socks off your beautifully crafted multi-phase e-marketing campaign.
- Try to get things to work together. Potentially they can give tremendous insight into the various phases of the customer life cycle. Hopefully this insight can be fed back into the planning for the next effort, making you smarter and improving results.