Marketing Still Not Producing Enough Leads, Says CSO Study

B2B marketing executives rocking marketing automation systems are too often like motorists driving Ferraris down the Autobahn at 50 miles per hour, says Jim Dickie, managing partner of CSO Insights (CSO, as in chief sales officer). Despite the recent cascade of offerings from the likes of Marketo and Pardot promising relevant communications with prospects throughout their buying processes, lead generation is still the most challenging problem facing sales managers, according to CSO Insights’ 2015 Sales Management Optimization Study.

“Marketing automation systems are basically tools, but you need a process to go along with those tools,” Dickie says. “A quarter of the companies we surveyed didn’t even have a definition of a qualified lead that was shared by both the sales and marketing departments.” The study’s findings were based on more than 100 metrics gathered from 585 companies worldwide.

CSO found that first-discussion conversion rates—that is, the percentage of qualified leads that accepted calls from salespeople—have been eroding over the past five years. Only a fifth of companies said they had first-conversation rates of 75%, and a quarter reported a rate between 50 and 75%. “Now, these were leads that said they were interested,” Dickie says, “and the majority of companies make that connection only half of the time.”

Sales organizations did better with leads they did secure. The win rate of forecast deals increased to 48% from 46% in 2014, the percentage of salespeople achieving quota inched up a point to 54%, and overall plan attainment rose a point and a half to 87.5%

Despite the efforts of technologists to get marketing and sales departments on the same page, a lot of the traditional disconnects endure. “Marketing historically has not delivered enough leads to sales, and that’s still the situation today,” he says. “Companies say that 28 to 35 percent of leads come from marketing, while 45 to 52 percent come from sales. Marketing may have the tools, but sales is still carrying the heavy load.”

Source: CSO Insights

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