Through these special blog postings, our goal is to offer advice and insights from top B2B marketers. Recently, Craig Rosenberg, author of the very popular and sometimes, irreverent, B2B sales and marketing blog, The Funnelholic, and vice president, products and services at Tippit, Inc., responded to our questions. Tippit is the fastest-growing online business media company with more than 80 brand leading clients in B2B industries who rely on Tippit to capture new revenue and optimize their sales and marketing effectiveness. You can follow Craig on Twitter.
1. How did you get started in the lead management industry?
I would have to say my real entry into the lead management business was in 2001, when I began working for SalesRamp. SalesRamp is a boutique sales and marketing consultancy that assists venture-backed startups in building their demand generation, inside sales, or sales processes and teams. While there I was tasked with going into a startup, understanding their business, building a plan, executing the plan, and handing over a full-fledged team and process—all within 4 months. Previously, I spent years in inside sales and lead generation roles, but it was not until I joined SalesRamp that I really started to grasp lead management. At SalesRamp, I helped build 24 or so lead management teams, and the rest is history.
2. What section of the lead management pipeline would you say has the most holes in it?
Well, the biggest hole right now is that not enough organizations have set up sufficient lead management processes. You have to build the lead management pipeline before you can even try to find the holes. Too many organizations have yet to take that first step. There are still too many organizations passing leads directly to sales. This continues to be a growing market and one of the most critical movements in recessionary 2009. And the most important thing we can focus on in the industry is to get as many organizations focused on creating lead management processes. By the way, even a little goes along way. Just having some form of lead management will positively affect ROI by ensuring that you are sending sales only sales-ready leads.
3. Where does your passion for the B2B lead management industry come from?
I have seen the light. The B2B lead management process today is completely broken, and I have seen how to fix it. That is really enlightening and exciting. I think that's really the main reason I am so passionate about it. There aren't many times in your life where you actually believe you have access to knowledge that can truly affect a person or an organization. On a personal level, that is exciting. I talk about it or write about it on my Funnelholic blog all the time.
As far as the lead management industry itself, it is really exciting right now. The market is starting to hit its stride with a number of great companies competing in this space and making a big difference in the marketing world.
4. What kind of impact have you seen the current state of the economy have on B2B marketers and Sales professionals?
One thing: opportunity. The economic crisis will be the compelling event that drives lead management and marketing automation from a "nice idea" to reality. Avoiding waste, generating ROI and being as efficient as humanly possible are the most important themes of 2009 - all themes marketing has been traditionally bad at. There is so much information out there now. Marketers need to stay up all night and get a lead management plan on board not so they can impress their boss but so they can save their jobs - or more importantly, save their companies.
5. What should B2B marketers and Sales professionals do to survive this down economy and be well-positioned for an upswing?
Work together, communicate and optimize.
Right now, organizations can afford to continue to have sales and marketing fighting their holy war. What I saw in 2001 is that increased pressure of a recession causes the fighting to get worse. The lead management process is not just a "way" to process leads but a bridge to integrate marketing and sales processes in a positive way. The first thing to do is agree on a sales-ready lead definition - what is a lead that should be passed to the sales team? Now this may change in the recession (please keep this in mind), but it is the most critical step to building any reasonable conversation between the two organizations. Once marketing knows what a sales-ready lead is, sales can't complain and vice-versa. The biggest fights come from the "gray area," that is, what is a lead or what is not a lead. The unified sales-ready lead definition helps eliminate the gray area and brings the two groups together.
Then, work together. Meet every week for anecdotal process and continue to tweak the process. Don't let the data do all the talking—have the data so you can have meaningful conversations, but don't diminish the value of real conversations when optimizing a program.
6. Why do you think silos exist between marketing and sales, and which team do you think is more amenable to working with the other?
Like any disagreement, both sides have been fighting for so long, I am not sure they know why they are still fighting. But communication and process has damaged this relationship for years. When I think of sales I think of two sayings:
Time is the enemy
You are either part of the solution or part of the problem.
Unfortunately, non-sales-ready leads break the two commandments above for sales people and, as a result, they either complain about marketing or ignore it.
For marketing, they want to please, but to them sales can never be pleased - "These are leads that need selling, why can't sales understand that."
I promise that effective lead management helps solve this problem. Who is more amenable? I am not sure either is more amenable, but I can tell you how to get to a better place. Marketing should build their lead management plan and go to sales with their new value prop: "Marketing will only pass you sales-ready leads." Sales will listen, they need leads and want leads, but they just don't want the ones you used to send. Then, come to the table and agree on a "treaty" with sales-ready lead definition and process.
7. What has been the biggest challenge in your professional career?
Wow, now this is a question. I have lived and breathed the startup world for 10 years, and every day is a challenge. Combine that with being in demand generation/lead management, and I would say my work life is one big challenge.
8. What business book have you recently read that you'd recommend?
"The Art of War" by Sun Tzu. I read that every once in a while and learn something every time. If you are in business, it's a must-read.
9. What's the best advice you ever received and who or where did it come from?
As we enter uncertain times, I think we all need to focus on what we can control. This is certainly not a new saying but really resonating right now.