In my last blog entitled “A fresh look at metrics and the marketing funnel,” I wrote about the nonlinear approach that many prospects take in getting to know our companies; and how difficult it has become to determine lead sources in the sales process when they eventually become clients. After all, ‘if I can measure it I can manage it’ – and many marketers like me have a burning desire to figure out the ROI of all of our marketing campaigns.
Equally important is to have a clear understanding between sales and marketing teams on what to do with those leads before they enter the sales process; i.e. before they become sales qualified leads. Here, I am defining a sales qualified lead as one in which a specific opportunity and commercial amount has been identified.
The stage between a lead being identified by marketing and becoming a sales qualified lead is often longer than the sales cycle itself. But often unqualified leads are left in this “no-man’s land” stage without clear ownership and a strategy on how to progress it further towards closure.
I think marketing should own the lead nurturing stage, but it comes at a price: a change in mindset. In order for marketers to focus more on lead nurturing, they need to give up some focus on lead generation and refocus on revenue instead. This requires entire demand generation processes to be reevaluated to bridge the process gap and make the direct connection to revenue. In other words, moving away from activity-based metrics to outcome based activity, something I wrote about in a December 2010 blog entitled “Outcome Based Marketing: Who’s Doing It?“
I’m not suggesting that building a world-class brand or lead generation process is not important activities for marketers, today or in the future. But marketers would greatly benefit from taking a leadership position by using nurturing marketing activities to focus on revenue.
Does anyone have successful nurturing best practices that they care to share?