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 on the horizon for new markets, growing their customer base and expanding products and services. Getting there means a renewed emphasis on lead management.
This isn’t to say lead management has not been emphasized before. What’s different is the stakes will be higher. And those 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 sync with your own organization as well as with prospects and customers?
Out of Sync
There is plenty happening in today’s worlds of buyers, marketing and sales. So much so, in fact, that 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 sync. So what should be in sync as you prepare for 2014? Here are five key areas:
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 sync with the right buyers? This is another important question. You may have this part right but it can be out of sync in other areas, most commonly when content marketing is narrowly viewed 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 that point.
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 strategy. Depending on complexity and the goals of buyers, skipping this step can set you back. Since many companies may lack a lead nurturing and development plan, it means content marketing is out of sync 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, instead of creating the need for sales to re-qualify leads as a result of distrust.
Marketing automation and sales automation integration continue to plague B2B. They may work together, but there’s a good chance it’s not a seamless process–and that 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 sync.
Time To Get In Sync
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’re a CMO and CSO reading this, you both need to see eye-to-eye on the path ahead. Otherwise, you’ll both be sitting across from the CEO, stumbling over answers as to why lead management is not working – and is out of sync.
Tony Zambito is the creator of and today’s leading authority on buyer personas. In 2002, Tony established the first-ever buyer persona development methodology designed specifically for B2B Marketing and Sales. This innovation has helped leading companies gain a deeper understanding of their buyers resulting in improved business, marketing, and sales strategies. Over the past dozen years, Tony has conducted hundreds of buyer interviews and has helped some of today’s leading Fortune 100 companies acquire deep buyer insights, providing him with a pulse on rapidly changing buying behaviors in the new digital age.
Tap into Tony’s extensive knowledge and learn more about how to set yourself apart from today’s competition at DemandCon Boston, Sept. 30-Oct. 1, for “Turning Buyer Insight Into Buyer Foresight – Why Buyer Predictability is the New Game Changer.”