Do You Know What a "Lead" Is?
Mar 28, 2016
This is an important question, especially if you are in marketing and have the responsibility for generating leads for your sales organization. Based on recent research, it’s surprising how many marketers don’t have a clue what a “lead” is for their business. When no one in marketing or the rest of the organization knows what constitutes a “lead” or everyone has a different definition, you are already in trouble. Based on my experience, the situation isn’t improving. In fact, this situation is closer to being the norm rather than the exception.
There have been thousands of seminars, white papers and books given and written on the subject of lead generation and lead qualification and you would think that this problem should be behind us rather than one facing businesses on a daily basis.
Even with millions being spent on marketing technology, the situation hasn’t improved significantly. In fact, it may be getting worse, because rather than using technology as a tool to help manage the lead generation and management process, people are letting the technology do their thinking for them. Scary, since technology can’t think.
From a recent Direct Marketing News article…”Marketing Still Not Producing Enough Leads” — “…Despite the efforts of technologists to get marketing and sales departments on the same page, a lot of the traditional disconnects endure. “Marketing historically has not delivered enough leads to sales, and that’s still the situation today,” he says. “Companies say that 28 to 35 percent of leads come from marketing, while 45 to 52 percent come from sales. Marketing may have the tools, but sales is still carrying the heavy load.” So, sales doesn’t think much of the leads being passed to it by marketing.
The failure of most lead generation and lead management programs can be pinned on the most fundamental and critical component of the process and that is in defining what’s a “lead” and then getting general acceptance of that definition within the organization and I’m talking the entire organization, not just marketing and sales.
No wonder lead generation programs fail to produce “leads” when everyone from the CEO down to the sales person doing the qualification has a different definition of “lead.”
I have given the speech hundreds of times on the importance of defining what a “lead” is and then getting everyone in the organization to agree on that definition. And, yet I’m always running into situations where the management team has their own definition, as does sales, as does marketing and rarely do the definitions meet. I actually had one CEO tell me that a “lead” was anybody that had money to spend and he was serious. But, even crazier than that is when you find that the people within the marketing organization, itself, have different definitions.
If your organization is in this situation, then you might as well bag it, because all of your marketing efforts are doomed to fail. If there isn’t agreement on what constitutes a “lead,” then everything else falls apart.
There are certainly other factors that affect marketing’s ability to generate a “lead” that sales will accept, but having an agreed upon definition is the first and most important step in the lead generation and management process. Everyone –management, sales, and marketing — has to have the same definition.
Notice, I have not defined what a “lead” is. And, there’s a very good reason for not doing so. The definition of a “lead” is industry, business and market dependent. What is a “lead” for one business, it not necessarily a “lead” for another business. Whether you use B.A.N.T. or some other criteria to define a “lead,” you need to develop your own definition and then get universal acceptance of that definition within your organization.
Dudley Stevenson, founder and CEO of DWS Associates, has over thirty-five years’ experience in consumer marketing, business-to-business marketing, and direct marketing, including developing, planning, and implementing go-to-market strategies. He's also the author of "Marketing Direct: Breaking Through The Clutter." Working with organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, he and his team have helped clients such as IBM, Sony, Neiman Marcus, Arizona Highways, Marshall Field & Co., Mrs. Field’s, UNICEF, and Patagonia implement successful direct marketing programs. A longtime member of the Direct Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association, Stevenson is also a sought-after speaker. He’s given hundreds of presentations and workshops on marketing and direct marketing. His “Marketing Planning 101” workshop alone has reached more than 100,000 marketing and sales professionals.