This week a Brighttalk webinar based on a study driven by Holger Schulze occurred. As he is the founder of the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn, it should be no surprise that the topic was a discussion of his recently released report on B2B lead generation. The presentation was a great panel discussion, with Mr. Schulze picking out portions of the report and then the panel providing feedback. The panelists and their firms were:
- Dallas Jessup, BrightTALK.
- DeAnn Poe, DiscoverOrg.
- Ben Swinney, Entrust Datacard.
- Dale Underwood, LeadLifter.
- Sue Yanovitch, IDG Enterprise.
The survey was done via the same LinkedIn group, so it’s a bit self-selected, but the results are still interesting. The top five trends are:
- Increasing the quality of leads is the most important issue.
- The same issue of quality of leads is also listed as the major challenge.
- Lack of resources is the main obstacle.
- Lead generation budgets are starting to increase.
- Despite the hype, mobile lead generation still isn’t big in B2B.
I’m a blend of data and intuition driven, so it’s nice to see what I’d expect backed up by numbers. However, in the stretch to get a list of five, the first two seem redundant.
68% of the respondents mention lead as a priority. The first thing pointed out was by Ben Swinney, who was surprised that “Improve the sales/marketing alignment” was down at number four. Ben was the one customer in a group of vendors and that opinion has a lot of weight.
Fortunately for the vendors, he wasn’t in a void. The rest of the panel kept coming back to the importance of both marketing and sales working closely in order to ensure leads were recognized the same way and had consistent treatment. I agree that is necessary for improving lead quality and if there’s one key point to take from the presentation, it is improving that relationship.
Another intriguing piece of information is the return of the prioritization of conferences, had dropped to third last year and are back up to number one. Sue Yanovitch was happy, as I’m sure all IDG folks are, and pointed out their research shows that tech decision makers value their peers and so sharing information in such forums are valuable. Enterprise sales often need to lead with success stories, because most companies don’t wish to be “bleeding edge.” Conferences are always great forum for getting not only improved understanding of technology but also for people so see how others with similar backgrounds are proceeding. The increase in budgets as the markets continue to recover leads to the return of attendance to such forums.
A key point in the proper handling of leads was brought up by Dale Underwood. His company’s research shows that people have completed 60-70% of their research before there’s a formal lead request put in to a prospective vendor. That implies both better tracking and handling of touch points such as web visits, but also means that sales needs to be better informed about those previous touch points. If not, sales can’t properly prepare for that first call.
That leads into another major point. Too many technology marketing people get as enamored of product as do the founders and developers. As Dallas Jessup rightly pointed out, lead generation techniques should focus on the prospect not on the vendor. What pains are the market trying to solve? That leads to the right calls to action.
To wrap back around to the sale and marketing issue, the final point to mention came during Q&A, with a simple question of whether turning leads into customers is marketing’s or sales’ responsibility. That should never have been a question, but rather how the two achieve it would have been better.
Sue began the reply by pointing out the obvious answer of “both,” though she should have said it proudly rather than saying it was a cop-out. All the other panelists chimed in with strong support that it has to be an integrated effort, the full circle lead tracking must happen.