I recently met with a Field Marketing leader for a successful B2B company recently and she had echoed a similar concern that is common in our industry – her concern was as follows:
“The marketing leads we give to sales aren’t being worked by sales, so it’s difficult to justify the marketing investment when the marketing leads aren’t closing or being worked.”
Here are 4 points to consider when trying to address the situation she faces – to net it out, it’s ACCOUNTABILITY:
1. Inspect the lead definitions in the company by segment, by region, and by channel to make sure a qualified marketing lead is indeed qualified from a salesperson’s viewpoint. It’s imperative marketing understands how sales qualifies and defines their own leads (not inquiries) as a starting point – what definitions they use, how they establish a need – with that definition in hand, it should MATCH what the marketing inside sales team has as a definition. An outside, independent audit is helpful as it removes any sales/marketing tension with a disinterested 3rd party; if that is not feasible, doing it directly from marketing to sales is the next best alternative.
2. Establish a service level agreement with the head of sales on sales ACCEPTED leads (not sales qualified) AND incent the inside sales team on sales ACCEPTED leads. This is tricky – most heads of sales would want to know what to expect or count on from marketing as it makes their job easier. The tricky part is that not all heads of sales understand the need or what an SLA is – particularly sales 1.0 executives. So there may be significant internal selling on this point not to overlook!
3. Establish metrics on a per rep basis – THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP – specifically measure on a per sales rep basis the quantity of leads that marketing sources, the quantity of leads that sales sources, the close rates and close TIMING for each sourcing category. With this quantitative information in hand, a more mature discussion can be held with the sales leadership as to what is actually happening with marketing qualified leads. Your marketing automation platform or Salesforce.com should help with this measuring. One intangible point here – this data will force conversations, so treat the discussions with the heads of sales respectfully, not as a hammer. The objective is to improve or close gaps on business challenge areas, not to hammer reps for how you might think of their performance!
4. Benchmark similar sized company performance so expectations are set at the executive level. At a tactical level, there is a great alignment opportunity between the head of sales and head of marketing in this scenario that she poses. In other SaaS environments, according to SiriusDecisions and Marketo, I’ve seen upward to 60% of closed revenue sourced by marketing (note a more typical average for B2B SaaS is in the 18% to 33% range with Marketo pushing the envelope at 60%+). The head of sales should want to know what marketing’s funnel is as it is less the head of sales team needs to do revenue wise at days end. The board of directors will also want to know what marketing’s contribution is to revenue.
This lady was impressive, she had all the right business instincts identifying the challenge and just needed a bit more push as what to do next. What do you find works for you? Would love to hear a sales person’s perspective!