7 Replies Latest reply on Apr 26, 2013 7:40 AM by 25251

    Is lead generation a fallacy?

      Four years ago, I began marketing enterprise consulting services after spending the prior 10 years in B2B enterprise software marketing. During this time, I've come to believe that the number of leads generated--in a B2B enterprise consulting enviornment--is a terrible proxy for whether our markting department is performing well. Here's why:

      We generate an average of 300 names/suspects/potential leads per month through an agressive combination of paid, earned and owned media. Yet over the past 3 years, only one of these leads has genereated a closed/won opportunity in excess of $15,000. In spite of this "low conversion rate," our consulting business has been growing quickly pver the same timeframe. Why?

      I believe these 300 new "leads" per month are helping us open, accelarate, and close pipeline. But here's where I'm stuck: how do I measure this? Specifically, the degree to which leads generated and nurtured by our paid, owned and earned media help open, accelerate, and close sales.

      For example, a former client of ours calls us up because she has moved to a new job and wants to hire us. 10-20 people who work with and/or for her are already in our lead database and are consuimng our emails, blog posts, webinars, regional events, etc. Six months later the deal closes. How do I prove that these 10-20 people were influenced by our outbound marketing campaigns to the point that they helped accelrate and close this sale?

      Would love to hear insights on how others are answering this question.
        • Re: Is lead generation a fallacy?
          There are several ways we do this.

          Not sure if you are using a CRM system and Marketo RCA/RCE, but we ensure that all of the Opportunities have at least 1 Contact Role defined (the contact the salesperson was speaking with when they decided to create the Opportunity).  We also encourage Sales to add addtiional Contacts to the Opportunity if they have any influence whatsoever with the Opp.  By doing this, we can use the RCE Opportunity Analysis reports to see the New Opps and Won Opps that had Marketing influence.  This tends to be conservative because not all Contacts that should be are added to the Opportunity, so there is a more rigorous method that involves exporting campaign member responses, New Opportunities and Won Opportunities into Excel, combining them using VLookup and analyzing them using pivot tables.

          We also have the concept of a Marketing Recycled MQL / Opportunity.  If a sales created lead moves into the "Remarket" or "Inactive" revenue stages and Marketing programs get them to re-engage with us and become an MQL, we update a custom "Marketing Recycled MQL" score fields (for Month, Quarter and Year ) by 1.  We copy the value to prior period fields and reset the value to 0 at the end of each measurement period.  When an Opportunity is created, if the Initial Contact is a Marketing Recycled MQL, we check a Marketing Recycled checkbox field on the Opportunity and it is reported as a Marketing Recycled Opportunity in addition to our Marketing Sourced Opportunities.

          Finally, we use the RCE Program Opportunity Analysis reports to show First-Touch (FT) and Multi-Touch (MT) attribution to Opportunities created from Marketing programs.
          • Re: Is lead generation a fallacy?
            We do some similar thing to Elliott when it comes to tracking. Additionally, as part of our internal Revenue Performance Management process, we've worked hard to help better align sales and marketing. One way we do this is to highlight the marketing influence of opportunities by rep and opportunity in our monthly reporting to the field. This help draw extra attention and scrutiny, to better encourage the reps to make sure people are attached to the opportunities. It's a key goal of the sales team to be leveraging marketing to build/accelerate deals and it's made very clear in each quarterly/monthly review meeting.
            • Re: Is lead generation a fallacy?
              Thanks for the initial thoughts. We are using Spark with Salesforce, so we don't have RCE.
              • Re: Is lead generation a fallacy?
                Great point here Jono.  The idea of a lead feels outdated, based on the relational database model and the 1990s trend of isolation and direct searches for solutions.  

                The RCA is a step forward, but its intrinsically limited to influencers within a company, and this ignores the profound influence of the social network.  

                The proper design will integrate with social networks to identify every influencer of your lead so you can identify untapped opportunities to encourage targeted sharing of content.  This is premature in most industries as the true social network is still largely "dark", but this is where its going, and the current crop of lead gen tools will become irrelevant if they don't account for this true impact of social.

                • Re: Is lead generation a fallacy?
                  Steven: What do you mean when you say "the true social network is still largely dark." Can you expand on that?
                  • Re: Is lead generation a fallacy?
                    I trust a relative of mine for her opinions on sales strategy, but she doesn't have a Facebook or Linkedin account, and if she did I wouldn't think to add her right away.  Her influence is part of the dark portion of my social graph.

                    I have a handful of writers I follow and respect what they write, but you won't know this looking at my Linkedin profile unless I explicitly added the data.  Implicitly its stored by Amazon and Apple, but for the purposes of selling is part of the dark portion of my social graph.

                    If you pay an Analyst at Forrester to host a webinar for your audience, you're still taking calculated risks that this person holds influence among your audience, and its likely overkill.  The perfect webinar guest will be someone who is influential to twenty specific prospects in your database.

                    When we can graph the 1,000 true fans for every prospect, the sales and marketing rules will completely change, and your primary goal will be to market to those with the most influence on your leads rather than how to market directly to your leads.
                    • Re: Is lead generation a fallacy?
                      The the 1,000 true fans was a fascinating read; thanks for sharing.