If you were to ask your Managing Partner or CEO whether they’d prefer brand recognition or a consistent stream of fresh, qualified leads, we’d hazard a guess there wouldn’t be much hesitation before they undoubtedly plumped for leads (and by qualified, we mean that they would meet your firm’s target audience).
So why is that? Well, brand recognition might be all well and good but it only builds over the long term. Qualified leads, on the other hand, are tangible and immediate – representing people with an actual need – ‘there for the picking’ or at the very least, the ‘following up’.
Creating a steady stream
Firstly, it’s important that marketing and business development work closely together rather than in isolation. You may well have heard the current buzzword ‘sales enablement’. It’s often tossed about as a vague sales term but it does, in fact, define the technology, processes and content that empowers sales teams to sell efficiently at a faster pace. That’s why business development and marketing should be working in tandem to create an environment that enables them both to carry out their roles with maximum effectiveness.
If it wasn’t measured, it doesn’t count
As in all aspects of modern business, the only way to quantify value is by measuring all activity. For this reason, marketing must set up key metrics – the most important one of these being to measure the number of leads generated. But if we break this down, your marketing ‘funnel’ will be measuring the number of website visitors. Of these, you will also need to measure the number of people who went on to fill in a form on the site (marketing qualified leads or MQLs). The ones that fit your buyer profile will go on to become sales qualified leads (SQLs). And from these, the business should be following up sales opportunities with people who will ultimately become clients – all from your original, carefully nurtured lead!
It’s crucial that marketing and business development establish a mutual agreement on the number of leads and the conversion rates required. If sales needs to deliver twenty new client wins a month, for example, then marketing should be producing forty qualified leads, assuming the business development team can convert 50%.
By focusing its efforts in this manner, marketing will be supporting revenue growth. In fact, it will really only become valuable to the business when it can demonstrate its role in lead generation and sales enablement.
Inbound marketing becomes absolutely key to the process of lead generation. This moves the emphasis away from ‘pushing’ material at your prospect as in traditional marketing and instead focuses on ‘pulling’ the lead to your company through useful content, whether that’s through useful blogs, engaging web pages, tailored email campaigns, captivating social media or online ads. To refine your future activity, it’s obviously important to establish which of these routes to market are contributing the most MQLs and SQLs.
Remember, if marketing is creating a steady flow of leads then everyone throughout the business will be happy. You’re at the top of the funnel, supplying prospects for everyone else. So make sure the focus in on high quality, regular, inbound marketing, which is in alignment with your buyer profiles.
As a professional marketer, if you can deliver this type of lead on a consistent basis, you will be demonstrating real value to the business.