Lousy B2B Lead Generation Habits to Avoid
I talk a lot about what you need to do to be successful in B2B marketing. But it is helpful to understand what not to do as well. Here are five habits to avoid in B2B lead generation.
Lousy Habit 1: Waiting until conditions are “just right.” With some exception, the world can be divided into two classes of people, those who are prone to analysis and those who are prone to action. You could also call these people the ready-aim-fire and the ready-fire-aim crowds. When it comes to lead generation, I prefer to have the latter on my team simply because they generate more leads, faster. The world is moving too fast to spend an excess amount of time studying, collecting data, analyzing and so forth. By the time you figure out what to do, your competitor has already made their move. The most carefully researched plans don’t work out when exposed to the marketplace. Like Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke said, “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.”
Lousy Habit 2: Not understanding the end game. In a B2B company, the end game is most likely revenue generation. If the sales department achieves its revenue objectives, marketing is more likely to be seen as a healthy part of the business. But if the sales department fails; marketing will often be seen as a contributing cause of the failure. This makes everything very unpleasant. If you are aligned with the sales department and have agreement on the necessary amount and quality of leads, you will be much more likely to be seen as a valuable partner instead of a hindrance to success.
Habit 3: Setting unrealistic expectations. Many a marketer has made the mistake of over-promising lead numbers to their sales counterparts. In the rush of enthusiasm over the potential of hitting a big sales target, the sales VP will ask the marketing VP to commit to a big lead number. Being a team player, the marketing VP says “Sure we can deliver X# of leads next quarter.” The quarter ends, sales misses its target revenue goal and the ambitious lead plan comes up short. Who gets the blame? That’s right, the overly-optimistic marketing manager gets at least some of the blame, even if he or she did a great job of lead generation given the level of resources. As you build your marketing machine you will become very accurate at estimating the quantity, quality and cost of leads. However, before you are sure about the numbers, it is better to under promise and over deliver.
Habit 4: Focusing only on “quality” or “quantity.” Ask the typical sales executive what he or she wants in terms of lead generation and the answer will be something like, “lots of qualified leads.” But the fact of the matter is that in order to generate qualified leads, you may have to generate many leads that are not qualified. In other words, the quality is buried amongst the quantity. The marketing department may need to produce a large quantity of leads to find enough that are qualified to meet the revenue targets of the sales department. This is why the lead qualification and nurturing process is so important.
Habit 5: Trying too many new things at once. It is a good idea to try new lead generation concepts, media, target audiences, etc. But be careful not to get caught up in the excitement of the new idea and count your lead chickens before they are hatched. Often, the great new campaign doesn’t produce as anticipated yet leaves you little budget to do much else. This is why I advocate spending 90 percent plus of your quarterly budget on tried and proven strategies and no more than 10 percent on the next great thing. Of course it is always a good idea to reinvigorate your marketing initiatives with fresh strategies, but not at the expense of reliable programs.