A report just published by B2B marketing* canvassed the opinions of 100 mid-senior-level B2B marketers. When asked: 'to what extent is the marketing department under pressure from executive management to produce a greater quantity of leads?', 85 per cent of respondents said it was either a significant or the single greatest pressure facing the department.
It would seem that this pressure to deliver a high volume of leads has a number of unwanted repercussions, most notably, a dilution of quality. According to the same study, poor initial qualification is the most common factor that prevents leads from becoming revenue generating opportunities.
B2B marketers, faced with pressures from the board or sales teams to deliver a quantity of leads, need to have clear definitions of what constitutes a lead. This vision needs to be shared by the other internal stakeholders.
Another shift that may be required is the concept of what a lead is and how a lead should be treated. The inbound marketing philosophy sees leads as opportunities to be nurtured and converted into opportunities, rather than names to be sold to.
If the case for quality over quantity is to be made effectively, then demonstrating the value of a lead, ROI and gestation period is vital. These metrics have to fight hard to make themselves heard over a big fat total lead target. Applying lead scoring and value attribution to the existing funnel is vital to show that quantity does not translate directly to revenue.
HubSpot, the platform that Champion integrates with earned media to help B2B tech companies grow, has a lot to say on the subject of lead generation. According to them, 'a lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company's product or service in some way, shape, or form….Essentially, a lead is generated through information collection. That information collection could come as the result of a job seeker showing interest in a position by completing an application for the job, a shopper sharing contact information in exchange for a coupon, or a person filling out a form to download an educational piece of content, like an ebook, kit, podcast, tool, trial, or something else.'
Looking at the pressure that exists to generate a volume of leads, the temptation might be to purchase lists. Marketers and salespeople alike want to fill their sales funnel and they want to fill it quickly. Buying leads, as opposed to generating them organically, is much easier and takes far less time and effort, despite being more expensive. There are some serious drawbacks though. Not least of which is that they can make a sales team’s lives much harder.
First and foremost, purchased leads don't actually know who has purchased them. Typically, they've "opted in" at some other site when signing up for something, and didn't actually opt in to receiving anything from the company that has just bought the list company. The messages sent are therefore unwanted messages, and sending unwanted messages is intrusive, not inviting.
There's a high likelihood they could flag unsolicited messages as spam. This is quite dangerous. Not only does this train an inbox to show only emails they want to see, but it indicates to their email provider which emails to filter out. Once enough people flag a brand’s messages as spam, a business goes on a "blacklist," which is then shared with other email providers. Once on a blacklist, it’s really, really hard to get off of it. In addition, email deliverability and IP reputation will likely be harmed.
Anther reason is that those leads that are bought waste time. They tie up resources from sales and account teams as they wrestle with a database of bewildered respondents who have no idea who they are talking to.
So whilst sales and the board may put pressure on B2B marketers to generate more leads, it really is a case of quality being more important in the medium and long term than quantity.
*Are your leads as good as they should be? B2B Marketing/The telemarketing company.