Thursday, April 05, 2007

Marketing as Lead Generation

Most B2B marketers have experienced the "we need leads!" syndrome. You've got a sales force in place, you're ready to go sell your product, and suddenly marketing becomes the lead generation department above all else.

All kinds of money has been spent (pointlessly) on efforts to hustle up a boatload of leads very quickly when the pipeline is dry and the salespeople are restless. The problem is that when you're in that situation, you're likely to call anybody with a pulse who could use your product a "lead" and send a salesperson after them... leading quickly to the ever-popular "marketing leads are terrible" syndrome.

Over at MarketingProfs, Brian Berlin has written a great little guide to lead generation, and the big message is this: know what a lead really is, and make real lead generation an ongoing activity.

I particularly chucked at his mention of the telemarketing firms that will quickly generate a bunch of "leads" for you. These folks are basically doing list generation; those "leads" are not ready for sales calls, though they can be a productive source of leads.

If you're a lucky B2B marketer who's not getting this kind of pressure, now's the time to put together a real lead generation program - so when that inevitable "where are the leads?" day arrives, you're already doing programs that give your sales force more than unqualified names and phone numbers to work with.

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