Through these special blog postings, our goal is to offer advice and insights from top B2B marketers. If you're not familiar with him already, it is my pleasure to introduce you to M. H. (Mac) McIntosh. He is considered to be one of North America's top experts on the subject of B2B sales leads.
As a B2B marketing consultant, McIntosh specializes in helping companies generate more sales-ready leads, turn them into sales, track and measure results, and justify bigger budgets by proving to management that sales lead programs are paying off.
For more information about Mac and the services he provides, or to request a free subscription to Sales lead Report, please visit his website at www.sales-lead-experts.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
1. How did you get your start in B2B marketing?
I was happily working in the B2C marketing industry when I was recruited to be VP of sales and marketing for the largest lead-management firm in the country at the time. We were providing inbound lead handling, outbound lead generation, lead nurturing and qualification services. We used database-driven direct marketing, and we provided sophisticated reporting on sales lead-program activity, results and ROI.
Research we did showed a clear need for consulting about optimizing B2B sales lead programs. I decided to start my own sales lead-consulting company and have been successfully consulting with B2B companies ever since, helping them to generate more qualified sales leads, turn more of those leads into sales, track and measure results, and prove to senior management that sales lead investments are paying off.
2. What strategies have you seen work the best for connecting sales and marketing teams?
I recommend that every marketer listen in on sales calls or ride along on a couple of sales visits each month, to better understand sales' issues and needs. I also recommend that sales, marketing and lead-generation teams meet weekly to align goals, discuss progress and resolve issues.
A recent research study we did, the 2009 B2B Lead Generation Benchmark study, showed that companies where marketing, lead generation and sales teams met more often converted more leads to sales and got better sales results overall.
I also believe that marketers need to have their own compensation tied at least partially to sales revenue goals. Reward them for helping sales meet quota, and they will focus more of their marketing investments and resources on helping sales sell.
3. If you were going to do only one thing, what part of a B2B lead-management program would you implement (demand generation, lead scoring, lead nurturing, ROI measurement)?
The best answer is "all of the above." However, if I were forced to focus on one thing, it would be lead nurturing. Why? Because research shows that three out of four sales come from the longer-term leads that are not yet sales-ready. In other words, nurturing your leads can result in up to 300 percent more sales-ready opportunities for your salespeople or channel partners to turn into sales.
4. Which business practices are working best in B2B lead generation today?
What's working best falls into two general categories: 1) direct marketing, including email, telemarketing and, yes, direct mail, especially for those whom you can't reach by email, and 2) Web sites that are optimized for search AND optimized for the people who visit your site. Marketers who want ideas on how to accomplish this should help themselves to my free B2B Web Site Checklist.
5. What's your advice to marketers working with execs who view marketing as a discretionary budget item during a recession?
Marketers need to start marketing marketing! There is plenty of research out there proving that when companies continue to market during a recession, they get more sales both now and later.
Marketers need to spoon-feed this kind of information to those who control their budgets, keeping the message "marketing = sales" in front of them until they believe it.