What the latest report from Chief Marketer means for your business.
Engaging prospects and getting them to convert are the biggest lead gen challenges for B2B marketers, according to Chief Marketer’s 2018 B2B Lead Gen Trend Outlook. There’s a lot of good material in the report, and it reinforces much of what I hear when speaking with clients and other senior marketers. In this post, I’ll share what I found to be the most interesting insights, along with some fixes for the challenges the report reveals.
First, here are the results that I found most telling, along with some thoughts that came to mind:
59% of respondents cited engaging targeted prospects
51% listed finding leads that convert, as their biggest challenges with generating new leads (over finding qualified names and the cost of new leads).
My Take: One might expect finding qualified new leads to be the biggest issue, but it turns out that’s not the case. Instead, pressure to deliver a minimum number of MQLs and SQLs forces marketers to take whatever they can get. Lead quality suffers, which explains the bigger challenges of engaging and converting.
Among the metrics that matter the most in lead attribution…
Cost of conversion came in first with 52%
And the amount of time to convert came in second at 50%
My Take: This is related to the issue described above. Poor-quality leads drive up the cost of conversion, since sales has to deal with these bad or not-ready leads. But the bigger issue is that marketers have not adapted their strategies and tactics to match changing buyer behaviors. In my experience, this is especially true of SMBs, who first want ideas on how to solve their challenges and then want to know how your solution will specifically help them.
- Stop playing the quantity game. De-emphasize the raw number of leads, while increasing the quality of your targets using lead scoring or some other means. This requires a big shift in mindset, not to mention coordination between sales and marketing at the highest levels, but the benefits are clear:
- Less effort (read: cost) to convert, since the focus is now on converting leads that are truly more qualified.
- Less frustration from sales because of weak (prevent situations like this from occurring).
- Better experiences for leads being pushed through the funnel, who otherwise may get turned off. Why is this important? Because even if they’re not ready to buy today, some of those leads could become buyers in the future. Push too hard and they’ll look elsewhere when they are ready to buy.
- Raise your content game. Content is your link between the opportunity or challenge your prospect is facing and your product. When deployed strategically, it can do some of the heavy lifting, reducing time spent by inside sales as well as accelerating the journey for those getting closer to buying. There is a lot to this, but you can begin by asking three basic questions:
- Have you mapped out the buyer’s journey and created content for each step for each of your products or services?
- Have you created strategic calls-to-action (CTAs) so the buyer can easily find the next step in their journey, regardless of where they want to go next? When it comes to content, this includes having related articles for the same buying stage, as well as for the next stage.
- Have you trained your inside sales teams to know how and when to use your content to accelerate the sale with education, or to nurture a warm lead that is not quite ready to buy?
- Raise your attribution game. Do what it takes to develop a full-attribution model. To figure out whether your lead-generation and nurturing efforts are moving the needle, you have to go beyond the first and last click.
We understand B2SMB marketers need to keep the lead firehose flowing. But eventually, costs of sales and marketing will get to a point that a volume-based approach is not sustainable. Prevent that from happening by focusing instead on lead quality, and implementing the metrics to help you do this. Done right, the number of converted leads won’t decrease, your cost of sales will decline, and you will be a hero.