And what if we chose our prospects?

COEUR

Sometimes it is a good idea to take a fresh look at the basics of marketing. The good old “push” and “pull” marketing strategies are still relevant today, including in B2B, even if the vocabulary and the modalities have changed.

For example, the sophistication and the multiplication of B2B marketing campaigns is resulting in a growing number of leads, known as “marketing-generated leads”. We stimulate markets by outbound campaigns and especially by inbound marketing (social networks have replaced traditional media and considerably boosted this approach) and then identify those who react to the stimulus. So this is good news, especially when sales leads aren’t on the rep’s radars and thus represent hidden business.

Yet behind this highly popular approach lies at the least a misunderstanding.  It is claimed these leads are so fantastic, all the sales rep will have to do is collect the signatures. Indeed, the process described by many service-providers specialising in “lead generation” goes into the generation of the lead in great detail while the next phase is reduced to two steps: “The salesperson accepts the lead” – “signature”.

We’ll see.

The problem: 79% of leads generated by marketing are never signed! (Marketing Sherpa, 2012).

Strange…

The first instinct is to question the motivation of the sales reps who followed up a lead they did not actually generate themselves. Yet sales reps are lazy. They hate cold calling. They want to sign a maximum number of sales with minimum effort. So you can’t really accuse them of ill will. Why would they turn their noses up at deals that were “in the bag”?

Perhaps they were not “in the bag”. Let’s make this simple: lead-generation logic is not the same as business and signature generation logic.

In other words, salespersons know very well that just because a sales lead has reacted to a “marketing stimulus” it does not mean there is potential business to be done. And this can be either because the company is off-target or because the contact is (in particular if they are not a decision-maker). Incidentally, 69% of salespersons say “marketing-gen leads” do not match the target centre (Vorsight, 2012).

Which takes us back to the idea of the target centre or ICP: Ideal Customer Profile. Sales leads who are most likely to sign are those to whom we are most likely to be able to offer the greatest value, so those who are best in tune with our value proposition. They are also those we will be most easily able to convince and those with whom we will secure the biggest margin. A delight.

These sales leads can often be identified in a nominative way. Consequently, this “short” or “long list” can be worked by the sales reps themselves (with backing from marketing), and at the right contact level. This involves the “push”. And the closing rate is much higher. (74 % of deals worth in excess of $50K are generated by Sales, The Bridge Group, 2013).

In conclusion, it is not always a good idea to opt for the “pull” in B2B just because technology now means we can. The Ideal Customer Profile + sales-generated leads approach is still the most effective.

François Drillon, EXECUTIVE SELLING (www.executive-selling.com)

THE THREE

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