Lead generation: for a product sale or solution sale?
Marketing is evolving so quickly these days, and Marketing Sherpa and their community are definitely on the forefront of thinking about and executing new ideas.
As I sat with 220+ people in Boston and listend to the tight, 30 minute presentations, I realized I was listening with what I would describe as "ears of the complex, solution selling organization." Although I got great ideas and it was a terrific conference, not all that I heard made sense in this context.
It became clear that these conversations must make a distinction between a (rather traditional) product oriented sale, and the marketing and selling programs that support it; and a solution and (often) target account sales process, and the way marketing must support that.
Demand gen for the product sale is about a "sales qualified lead" for a (relatively) volume sales model. The often disparaging comments about sales people expecting leads that are ready to sign the order, while funny and at the extreme, belies the business reality if you get in the shoes of someone with a significant montly quota. The selling model doesn't allow much for opportunity development. Looking for a "hot" lead is essential to sales productivity, meeting quota and keeping a job (feeding a family). I wish I had heard greater appreciation of that from speakers and audience alike.
While presenters did come from companies with a longer, complex sale, the distinction of how this impacted their lead gen programs wasn't clear. How does a "sales qualified lead" differ in these organizations?
Unisys and EMC both presented campaigns targeted at relatively few accounts -- 100 for the former, 24 for the later -- where marketing and sales actually collaborated to collect information from and about key stakeholders in accounts, and to execute lead generation campaigns that were highly successful. A good start. Next challenge is to figure out how to make this scaleable.
What I did hear at the conference is an appreciation for building content -- presumably you have to figure out the right messages first -- for the diffeent stages of the customer's buying process, as well as for buyer roles (stakeholders). But the recent Marketing Sherpa survy indicated 63% of the companies surveyed don't do this. This is still an opportunity to create a competitive advantage for those companies who do.