If you want to make sales quota in 2012, get started today! Right now! Immediately!

SaaS marketing automation products like Marketo, Hubspot, Eloqua and the like are very, very easy to buy. Give them a credit card, they give you a login. Done. The transaction can be completed in minutes.

It’s actually way too easy, I believe. Too many companies believe purchasing software fixes B2B lead generation. It does not.

Fixing your B2B lead generation challenges is a lot like losing weight. Most everyone wants to do it but promises don’t match reality.

Look at this image. “Scientists discover rare weight loss ‘Wonder Herb.‘” That sounds like the sales pitch of software vendors, promising all that ROI the comes from their software. (That ROI is possible – just like weight loss is possible – if done right.)

Biggest Loser logoI’m sure you don’t buy that. You know full well that there’s no “Wonder Herb” in dieting. Dieting is hard and arduous. Watch “The Biggest Loser” to see how hard it is.

Unfortunately, there’s no “Wonder Herb” in B2B lead generation and marketing either.

Want to hear what it’s really like to buy marketing automation? Read an actual user story in Marketing automation—lower your expectations.

The author, Liz McCellan writes “Don’t get me wrong. I think marketing automation is a smart tool to invest in, but I want to give some candid advice about setting the right expectations.” She goes to compare marketing automation to becoming a parent – everyone congratulates you, but you are in for hard work. One recommendation: She urges you to set realistic dates – and then add at least 6 more months.

Liz makes a great point in her article. What does your software purchase do toward fixing your company’s problems with generating quality sales leads? Absolutely nothing! (This is not a knock on products from companies such as Marketo, Eloqua, Silverpop, Neolane, Aprimo, and Pardot. They are all fine products from solid companies.)

The only way to REALLY fix your lead generation challenges is to do a LOT of hard work – the diet and exercise, if you will – which we summarize in these 10 steps.

Are you ready to do what it takes? Then complete these ten steps.

  1. Craft deep buyer personas – a deep understanding of prospective buyers and concerns.
  2. Define your keywords – the words buyers use to search for solutions.
  3. Agree on the common definition of a lead and identify key trigger events which drive decisions. (So sales will get fewer, better leads.)
  4. Map content to the buyer personas and buyer variables (using keywords) (So you can take buyers on a journey and you do well in search)
  5. Fill in the gaps with new content (using keywords) (No gaps in the journey.)
  6. Optimize the website, blog and social media based on keywords (so you rank well in search.)
  7. Design lead nurturing campaigns in a Problem to Solution story-telling format using your content. (Earn trust till they are ready to buy.)
  8. Using the agreed lead definition, agree on the behaviors and demographics that indicate buying propensity (lead scoring). (Remember, we need fewer and better leads for sales.)
  9. Create metrics to measure the effectiveness of your programs. (So we can refine it over time.)
  10. Deploy everything in your new marketing automation software.

Notice that the real use for the software you bought first appears in Step 10?

Unless you are ready to invest in those 10 steps using internal and/or resources like Find New Customers, you will never really fix your problem with sales lead quality.

What do you think? Is buying software a panacea for fixing real problems in most companies? We love your comments and sharing.