You can almost see the long trumpets getting ready. The clarion call for generating new business in 2014 will be loud and long. B2B businesses have been making the slow crawl out of the recession. Looking out in the horizon for new markets, growing their customer base, and expanding products and services. Getting there means a renewed emphasis on lead management.
This is not to say lead management has not been emphasized before. What is different is the stakes will be higher. Higher stakes will accompany aggressive plans to acquire new customer accounts. Growth plans will be counting on lead management to drive meeting ambitious goals for 2014. The question to ask now is whether your lead management is prepared and ready. Or is it out of synch with your own organization as well as with prospects and customers?
Out of Synch
There is plenty happening in the worlds of the buyer, marketing, and sales today. So much so, gaining uniformity and consistency in how customers and prospects come to understand your organization’s capabilities is no easy feat. Lead generation and management can go awry if your ability to achieve uniformity and consistency is out of synch. What should be in synch as you prepare for 2014? Here are five areas:
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The most difficult question in business today continues to be – who is our customer? Getting this right however is very important. Otherwise your lead management and growth plans will be built on sand. There are three steps you can take here:
- Conduct buyer insight research to answer this essential question
- Develop your Ideal Company Persona
- Develop your Ideal Buyer Persona
Is your content marketing in synch with the right buyers? Another important question. You may have this part right but it can be out of synch in other areas. Most common is when content marketing is viewed narrowly as messaging. Instead of being part of an integrated plan supporting an overall buyer strategy. Thus, your content marketing may work well in the early stages of customer awareness but has no sustaining power beyond.
Lead Nurturing and Development
There are three important elements to get right here:
- A lead nurturing plan
- Automation targeted to behaviors
- Human intervention with lead development
While there may be an overall lead management plan, many companies lack detailed lead nurturing and lead development plans. Depending on complexity and the goals of buyers, skipping this step can set you back. Since many companies can lack a lead nurturing and development plan, it means content marketing is out of synch with lead nurturing.
Lead management can drastically affect sales performance. Both in terms of the quality of leads and the effort involved. The boy who cried wolf syndrome can happen here very easily. The promise of qualified leads falls short over and over. Making it harder and harder, no matter what systems are put into place, for sales to fully embrace leads. Lead nurturing and development must enable sales to engage where the buyer is at the moment of buying interest. Not, create the need for sales to re-qualify leads as a result of distrust.
Marketing automation and sales automation integration continues to plague B2B. Working together they may be – however it is not seamless. Causing internal pain means limited use. The irony here is this: the two systems of automation designed to create more effectiveness may actually be contributing to increasing ineffectiveness. Why is this? As buyers no longer follow a linear buying process and the single buyer is a dead concept, these systems cannot get in synch.
Time to Get in Synch
The above represents a tall order. Lack of buyer understanding begins a domino effect. Causing other key components of lead management to fall short. If you are a CMO and CSO reading this, you both need to get in synch on this. Otherwise, you will both be sitting across from the CEO stumbling over answers as to why lead management is not working – and is out of synch.
(Schedule time with me and a conversation to help you find out how to get your lead management in synch. I am very interested in getting your thoughts and perspectives on how to pull these elements together. Please share widely – your peers and colleagues are also looking to get in synch.)