Cowan: Marketers Spend Too Much Time Selling to the Wrong People

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Correcting lead generation or prospecting errors in sales and marketing was one of the topics discussed by Ron Cowan at yesterday’s B-to-B Marketing Conference.

“There’s a number of problems that come up with salespeople, and one of them is that there’s too much focus on high-profile names,” said Cowan, president of The Cowan Group, Austin, TX. “Often that’s only a subset of the target universe that we have.”

Another area in which they may spend too much time is the Fortune 500. There’s also too much focus on previous career prospects, he said.

“What does a salesperson do? They come in, they know people from ‘Acme’ business … [and] maybe they sold it some ancillary product,” he said. “The problem is now they might be working for a new company, and the new company product is completely different with a completely different decision maker.”

Marketing to existing or past customers also can be problematic along with miscellaneous accumulated leads that can be unproductive for both salespeople and marketing departments.

“I come across companies that have databases of tens and hundreds of thousands of accumulated leads that nobody can tell me where they accumulated from or why they’re in there, but there’s this holy treatment of these leads that they are sacred and they should never be deleted or thrown out,” he said. “We just need to keep marketing to them. We need to keep mailing to them, and we need to keep plugging away at these leads. And I always question, ‘Where did these come from, and why are they qualified today?'”

Even “friendly people” didn’t escape unscathed.

“It can be very bad for salespeople to spend a lot of time in front of really friendly people as opposed to the most qualified prospect,” he said.

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