We recently wrote an article on Industrial Marketing in 2010 that discussed key trends and shifts in B2B marketing budget allocation among manufacturing companies. Another interesting trend from that report and one that we are seeing in other industries is the growing importance of ‘lead qualification’ for companies.
Lead Generation was once the focus for many companies – generating as many leads as possible was the mandate for marketing and sales activities. The tide is shifting – companies are more focused on generating qualified leads. A qualified lead is one that expresses interest in your product/service and meets your buyer profile. Implementing functions such as website-based forms provide valuable information to sales staff helping them to identify how serious the lead is and what additional information will be necessary to identify the activities (if any) required to nurture that lead through the buying funnel.
Properly assessing leads requires marketing and sales to work together. Marketing needs to understand the buyer profile(s), and Sales needs to agree with it, to ensure activities include methods of capturing information which will help Sales assess leads. For example, webinars. Marketing needs to ensure a webinar registration form gathers key pieces of information that help Sales qualify and prioritize attendees. Marketing then plays a role in developing materials and ensuring processes are in place for Sales to effectively nurture those qualified leads, e.g. follow-up information, an invitation to an upcoming event, etc.
Every lead costs time and resources. By working together, Marketing and Sales can minimize per lead costs by establishing processes and systems to qualify leads and nurture leads that are most aligned with the company’s buyer profiles. Increasing the number of qualified leads is the new lead generation metric companies are interested in increasing.