Lost Prospects: Marketing Generated Leads With Outdated Mindsets

LIsa Vitale marketing GuruOften we get stuck in old mindsets – things that have worked well for us in the past.  But if the present context has changed from how things worked in the past, then adhering to older, albeit previously successful methods may do more harm than good.

A recent post on LinkedIn by Hubspot’s Mark Roberge (“Help! My Sales Team Thinks Our Inbound Leads Suck“) suggests that outdated mindsets vis-à-vis inbound leads might be putting your sales and marketing teams at odds.  Specifically, a lack of understanding for the differences between outbound and inbound leads could be at the heart of an all-too common lead generation issue between these departments.  Roberge makes the point that often sales individuals have learned their craft in a traditional outbound-focused context.  However, today the typical buyer’s journey has changed significantly.  Consequently, today’s inbound leads behave very differently than yesterday’s outbound ones –  if your sales teams work from an outdated understanding of how inbound prospects buy, they’re likely missing out on the opportunities the “new” way offers, without ever really comprehending why that is.  It’s a twist on the proverbial ‘apples and oranges’ issue.

As Roberge explains:

Your typical salesperson has been honing his/her skills for years — sometimes decades — in the art and science of closing outbound leads. But inbound leads don’t act like outbound leads. So it’s not uncommon for inbound leads to look like they “suck” to your salespeople, when in fact, they’re just different.

Outbound-focused teams cannot treat marketing generated leads in the same manner and expect the same results.  As Roberge note, “inbound leads act, think, and close differently than outbound leads do.”  We see it time and again here at SimplyDIRECT with our lead generation campaigns for clients – companies want to call in high to decision makers, make a traditional sales pitch, and don’t understand how to best leverage the opportunities presented by marketing generated leads.  After 20 years of generating leads for clients through our prospect surveys, here’s some of our collective wisdom on maximizing inbound opportunities (with a little help from Roberge):

Bring both marketing and sales to the campaign table.  When we work with clients, we ask that representatives from both marketing and sales join the process.  Brainstorming with sales helps ensure that everyone is on the same page, working towards the same goal in a well-defined, agreed-upon manner.  Target markets are more accurately segmented, and proper key qualifying criteria are established.  This collaborative process often reveals important hidden assumptions, among them the need to treat different types of leads differently.

Define what a good fit is for marketing generated leads.  Roberge says, “In an inbound model, all your leads have the pain your company solves. Otherwise, they would have never conducted that Google search, downloaded that whitepaper, or read that blog article that led them to you.”  Consequently, lead-scoring criteria for marketing generated leads must necessarily differ from those for outbound leads.  Work with sales to set the right inbound criteria so you can be sure to properly nurture and pass on only the best quality sales-ready leads.

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Do your homework – explore company-specific issues with influencers.  Traditional sales reps typically don’t want to waste time with anyone who doesn’t have the authority to make decisions.  Yet in today’s information-rich context, decision makers are outsourcing the research of issues and vendors to their employees.  As a result, these employees can prove a valuable partner in determining company-specific issues with which to spark later, more important conversations.  Don’t hesitate to connect first with those experiencing the pain points who report upwards – they are often your best path to the decision makers you ultimately want to engage.

Use the information you’ve gleaned to make it all about them.  Whether they’ve taken a survey, downloaded a white paper, or clicked through an email, use this information to engage a conversation about them.  Don’t lead with a traditional off-putting pitch – marketing generated leads expect you to know something about them.  Seek to genuinely help them, rather than simply sell them something.  After all, that’s why they reached out – for help.  Use that to create good will and position yourself as a valuable partner.

Identifying outdated mental models and changing them can be tough, but collaborating with sales and providing the right logic and incentive (greater success!) will go a long way to help everyone adjust to the different ways in which marketing generated leads behave.

To read more about what we’ve learned regarding the leveraging of marketing & sales alignment for campaign success, download our brief 4 Ways to maximize ROI on Your Next Campaign.

To read more about mental models, insight selling, and driving buyer behavior, download Insights on Solving the Content Challenge