Teamwork Determines Lead Generation Success

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As a consultant, I often am brought in to help companies begin or refine lead generation programs. Bringing in qualified sales leads is vital, particularly in today's market.


But too often, even though companies put much effort into lead generation, these campaigns fail to meet expectations. Lack of planning, spotty tracking and miscommunication between the sales and marketing departments create disjointed efforts, poor results and frustration on all sides.


The most successful efforts put a smile on the faces of both the marketing and sales managers. Much of the success is in managing expectations. Be realistic about what response to anticipate and what the sales team efficiently can follow up. If the sales team needs 10 or 100 or 1,000 leads, do some calculation before you mail. What is a realistic response rate? How many leads are in the prospect universe? What can you afford to mail? How often? How many leads can your sales team follow up on a regular basis?


Second, how you gather and distribute leads is vital. Don't execute a campaign until you figure out how leads will be handled. Don't just drop mail. Don't just dump responses on the sales team. Ensure a system is in place before you mail or blast. Marketing should never execute another campaign until information is in on which offers, creative or lists worked. How will this information get captured and reported back? Sales needs to get the leads, prioritize and qualify them, distribute them to the right channel and follow up quickly. How will this happen? Don't leave the back end as an afterthought.


Next, get your sales team everything it needs to make its job easier. Most of the information used by sales to qualify leads just isn't available on standard postal or electronic mailing lists. Use your executions to qualify respondents. Start your process by asking the reps what information they would need to fully qualify the lead. Then pare it to the most important and figure out how that information can be gathered .


Balance the need for information with using an execution to get the highest response rate. A first response can generate general contact information plus two to four qualifying questions such as monthly budget for your product or the prospect's readiness to buy.


Use your resources for what they do best. As a marketing director, involve the sales team. Your sales reps spend their days with your target audience. Ask them what publications they see on the prospect's desk or what events and meetings they attend. Use the information to refine your list buys and creative. Ask them what offers they think will work with the target.


As a sales director, use your marketing department to get the best creative out the door. Nothing weakens creative more than having it done by committee. Review the first draft of the creative and be involved in the targeting and the offer. But once a piece is under way, don't let arguments over headline colors get your marketing team off track.


The fatal error of most lead generation campaigns is that sales and marketing review work upfront, then once the campaign drops they wash their hands of the process. Leave nothing to error. Both sales and marketing management should take full ownership of the program's outcome. Check the list, check the tracking and check the process. Heck, check the links and the phone numbers.


If campaign results are on the line as well as the success of your company, there is nothing that doesn't fall under your job description. Sales and marketing management both need to review the process daily and in depth. When I run lead generation campaigns, if possible, I look at every response. Daily, I check with the sales managers, the sales reps and in the database system to track high priority leads.


Your reporting and tracking also can alert you early to issues in the campaign. Check your Web site stats, response tracking and vendor-reported tracking for results. Be diligent in understanding normal stats and be ready to identify anything that may be a problem. Your Web site stats can point to download issues if your campaign gets great click-through response and poor completion of download.


A number of duplicate responses may mean that your offer or response form is confusing. Long calls or a low conversion rate could mean your telesales team lacks the tools to close the deal.


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