Marketing vs. Sales: Top Picks for Lead Generation
Previously, we covered the topic of Marketing vs. Sales: Top Picks for Brand Awareness. Today, we’re shifting our focus to demand or lead generation. Which demand and lead generation activities make the top of the list for marketers and sales leaders? Are marketing and sales leaders in agreement about the tactics that generate the best return? What are the differences?
We had a conversation with a handful of marketing and sales leaders. Their insights can help you decide where to focus, especially if you are looking to drive stronger results in your lead generation efforts.
First, we have to agree on a definition for lead generation and distinguish it from demand generation, because depending on who you are talking to, these terms are either interchangeable or they mean two very different things. Assuming these terms are, in fact, distinct, here’s how we’ll define them.
According to our friends over at Marketo, “Lead generation describes the marketing process of stimulating and capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of developing sales pipeline.” Lead generation focuses more on the end-to-end funnel.
Demand generation is often referred to the next step after awareness where interest in your product or service is generated, but perhaps not taking it further.
For our purposes in this article, we’re going to refer to lead generation—that process of capturing interest and converting it into preference, and into purchase.
Marketer’s Take: Top Two for Lead Generation
- Care Most About Continuous Engagement
Regardless of the tools and tactics you have in play, the key to a solid lead generation funnel is having a path for your new leads to follow and keeping them moving along that path. Getting inquiries coming in the door is just the very beginning of the lead generation path. It’s what happens after that where you have the greatest opportunity for impact—prepare for continuous engagement by putting segmentation information and customer data analysis to work.
Kim Martin from Aspect Software explains it simply. “Put together a nurture path that leverages your account-based marketing tactics and tools to get people on a personalized path based on your segmentation. It’s not all email. Instead, it needs to be a really good mix of face-to-face, social, email and other digital touch points so people don’t stay stuck in the first phase of inquiry.”
Certainly, you don’t want people coming in as leads and then sending them random pieces of content or information. By defining your MQLs, SQLs and qualified opportunity profiles, then setting up opportunities for interaction along that path, you will start to see an increase in the quality of the opportunities that make it to the end.
2. Invest in Digital Events with Interactive Capabilities
Perhaps this one is no surprise, but our group of marketing and sales leaders agreed that events are an important driver of relationship-building in the lead generation and nurturing phases. One critical feature of events according to our experts, if you are doing them for lead development, is that they should be interactive in nature.
One-way, pre-recorded videos are not the most effective strategy here. Instead, think of live, interactive web streams, live podcasts, or even live teleconferences.
Hosting brief, live events allows your audiences to participate on short notice, invest a relatively short amount of time and get specific answers to their questions. Live events also tend to keep listeners tuned in for the duration, so they are a great avenue for extending special offers or invitations to take that next step in the process with your support.
Another goal you can achieve with live, interactive events is identify challenges that might not be easily seen without the opportunity to chat live with your audiences. We know that people like to talk to other people who are addressing the same type of challenges. You can not only learn what these common challenges are, but address them live to keep your leads moving along.
Sales’ Take: Top Two for Lead Generation
- Choose Events That Foster 1:1 Relationships
At the top of our sales leaders’ list are in-person events. Not including tradeshows or conferences, in-person events where the audience is more selective or targeted to an industry, market segment, geography or theme are best.
In addition, showing up year after year to the same events helps to build consistency, community and, eventually great relationships.
Especially if you are in the B-to-B space, relationship building with key individuals and key account teams takes time. The B-to-B sales cycle is customarily long and may involve multiple contacts, teams or budgets.
The ability to foster in-person relationships goes a long way in establishing trust and a collaborative spirit when solving complex issues inside a large organization.
2. Apply Account-based Marketing Best Practices
To ensure consistent success with lead generation activities that convert to closed deals, our sales leaders agree hands-down that account-based marketing strategies are a priority because of their adaptability to different sales scenarios and for the amount of value they can add to the sales process.
Account-based marketing sets a business up to think strategically about how opportunities are nurtured. Most account-based marketing programs are set up to employ a wide variety of touch points and tactics so that a salesperson has the ability to tailor an individual’s experience. What case studies are going to resonate at different points along the decision-making process? What videos are going to help educate, inform, elaborate on and help prospects envision a solution’s value? What trends are impacting purchase decisions and how can you facilitate a dialog—maybe via webinar or a half-day event to keep the process moving along?
For sales teams, power in moving leads along the customer journey resides in the tools they have at their disposal to keep conversations relevant and timely, based on where the decision-maker is in their process. Adopting an account-based marketing strategy from the beginning helps sales and marketing work together for the most streamlined and comprehensive set of tools.
Getting sales and marketing teams on the same page when it comes to lead generation can actually be pretty easy to accomplish. With some open communication about priorities, tools, strategies and goals, developing marketing programs that win more business faster is within reach.