Shocking Findings About the Perception of Lead Quality in B2B Organizations


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Gleanster asked marketing and sales professionals to rate the quality of leads generated by marketing on a scale of one to five, five being highly qualified and one, not a lead. The hypothesis was that we would be able to isolate a gap between the perceived quality of the leads marketing thinks they are generating and the quality of the leads sales thinks they are getting. What we actually found was the complete opposite. In general, marketers know (and want) to do a better job sourcing quality leads, and sales is actually quite understanding of the challenges. There’s no perception gap in lead quality between Sales and Marketing. Universally, this pear-shaped trend suggests that both marketing and sales have a common interest to pursue.

Marketing and sales are quite realistic about the quality of leads marketing sources.

Marketing and sales are quite realistic about the quality of leads marketing sources.

As marketing automation adoption continues to gain traction, more and more organizations are waking up to the idea that alignment between sales and marketing is absolutely critical for building relationships with prospects. But we wondered what the root of the problem actually is. Why does it seem to be so difficult for organizations to break down the boundaries that bifurcate the customer lifecycle in B2B organizations? If this whole notion of marketing tossing poor quality leads over the wall to sales were true, we might expect to see trends similar to the grey areas, or at the very least a higher skew toward poor quality leads among sales reps. But practical thinking prevails. Sales is quite understanding of the challenges marketers face, because they face these same challenges with customer engagement. That’s why gaining visibility into the customer buying cycle and engaging them with non-intrusive and relevant content is so critical. That’s also why both marketing and sales need to be intimately involved in optimizing the customer lifecycle.

It turns out that it’s not the perception of lead quality that divides marketing and sales. Marketers don’t think they are doing a better job than they generally are. Research suggests three things are significantly hindering revenue growth in the average organization:

  • Fragmented technologies
  • Poor data quality
  • Access to data

Let’s Hold Hands Here

sales and marketing hold handsHere’s the thing about this data. If both marketers and sales generally believe they could be doing a better job at sourcing higher quality leads from marketing, that’s the perfect platform for collaboration. Let’s not forget that while marketing may be expected to source high quality leads, it is up to sales to help refine the criteria that make these leads qualified. Sometimes (or most of the time) even sales leaders can’t define a “qualified lead” – but someone is going to take the blame for missed targets. Sales is also sitting on mountains of customer data that can inform marketing strategy, but how often is that data actually analyzed within sales, much less passed down to marketing for insight that can be used to optimize customer acquisition budget?

So when we think about solving this problem, it’s going to take a sea change in the traditional approaches that got us into it. You have to start centralizing customer engagement so you can trigger communications with business rules. That’s why marketing automation is so valuable. For more information on this topic check out the Deep Dive “What Sales Should REALLY Expect from Marketing Automation.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ian Michiels
Ian Michiels is a Principal & CEO at Gleanster Research, a globally known IT Market Research firm covering marketing, sales, voice of the customer, and BI. Michiels is a seasoned analyst, consultant, and speaker responsible for over 350 published analyst reports. He maintains ongoing relationships with hundreds of software executives each year and surveys tens of thousands of industry professionals to keep a finger on the pulse of the market. Michiels has also worked with some of the world's biggest brands including Nike, Sears Holdings, Wells Fargo, Franklin Templeton, and Ceasars.


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