Can a lead generation engine be too efficient?
Leading AIDC suppliers generate tens of thousands of leads each year through website interactions including web inquiries and on-line referrals, whitepaper downloads, software downloads, and through inbound traffic generated from various marketing initiatives. Separating the wheat from the chaff enables these suppliers to quickly identify opportunities with an immediate need and supporting budget from those opportunities that that will require nurturing.
The lead management teams we have worked with understand that the cost associated with a lead increases exponentially as the lead progresses through the sales funnel, and that the penalty for a slow response to an initial inquiry is a lost sale. For these reasons, those leads with easily qualified budget, authority, need and timing (BANT) are prioritized and distributed efficiently, and hopefully effectively. Those leads that are not as easily qualified, the vast majority of inquiries, receive less time, attention, and follow-up.
From the perspective of a quota carrying account manager with limited resources, sales effectiveness depends more on effective lead qualification than any other step in the lead management process. By only burdening account teams with those leads that meet the organization’s strict qualification thresholds, AIDC suppliers are able to improve their yields on marketing investments and close a higher percentage of deals. That’s a good thing, particularly during recessionary periods, when resources are constrained. Simply put, relaxing lead qualification standards to provide more leads to account teams and channel partners makes no sense.
What does make sense is ensuring that those leads that do not qualify today are properly characterized and nurtured to yield future business. In our experience, the lead management bone yard is often teaming with longer-term opportunities and valuable insights regarding emerging applications.
In fact, we know of one supplier that is particularly adept at periodically and systematically reviewing disqualified leads and lost sales opportunities to identify underserved customer segments. In one case, this supplier was able to identify an emerging application quickly, making strategic investments in new channel development by green-lighting a short list of channel partners that did not previously meet the organization’s partnership requirements.
In less than two years, the annual revenue contribution associated with the emerging application skyrocketed, eventually eclipsing revenues associated with the core applications for which the product was originally designed.
Too many suppliers, even share leaders, are often overlooking this rich repository of information, sacrificing long-term growth and prosperity for near-term gains in marketing and sales efficiency. We would argue that this is precisely the right time to revisit disqualified leads and see what can be gleaned from them to refine lead qualification processes and drive future product development and channel marketing initiatives. This is one of the themes we’ll be exploring in our 2010 Barcode Segment Offering Analyses.
In the next installment of this series, we’ll be taking a closer look at another source of lead management effectiveness and entropy: lead distribution. Until then, we’d like to hear from you. Does your organization frequently revisit disqualified leads, and if so, what have you learned?