Sales isn’t following up on marketing leads for a reason

Most people who have studied marketing can tell you that marketing lead generation is about both quantity and quality. However, it seems that in many B-to-B organizations, quality has been forgotten in the quest for quantity. As a result, marketing leads have lost credibility with sales, and are often relegated to the bottom of the pipeline in terms of which leads sales will follow up with first.

It’s axiomatic in the B-to-B marketing space that sales teams just don’t follow up on marketing leads. I went to a Business Marketing Association seminar the other day where the audience burst out laughing when the speaker suggested that this might be a problem in some firms. That meeting was about a different topic, but I heard a number of people from the marketing function speculate as to why sales teams don’t follow up on marketing leads, and they all seemed to focus on perceived deficiencies with sales. I’m not going to defend the world’s sales organizations, but I will suggest that we marketers could use to take a look in the mirror the next time this issue surfaces. At a minimum, it’s a shared problem, and it’s possible the problem lies firmly at marketing’s doorstep.

How do I know this? Well…the sales people at every company I have ever worked for were results-driven. They pursued whatever lead was in their pipeline that was most likely to close a sale. If your sales partners aren’t following up on your marketing leads, that’s likely because they have had experiences that tell them that the marketing leads aren’t as ready to buy as other leads in their pipeline. That means that marketing will need to either nurture leads further before sending them to sales, or provide sales with the tools necessary to convert the current marketing leads into closed sales. Oh, and by the way, if your sales tools require more work than shifting focus to other leads in the pipeline, then you really only have one choice….start nurturing those leads until you have improved lead quality to the point that it is attractive for sales to follow up on your leads.

If you are wondering how to do this, the internet is full of advice about how marketing should go about nurturing leads, often from vendors of software packages that make it easy to manage nurturing campaigns across the spectrum of client and prospect leads. One recent example is Marketo’s The Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing, which you can get here. In this report, as in all the others like it, you can take the advice with or without the system that they recommend. My only hope is that B-to-B marketers will embrace the key concepts behind lead nurturing, and going forward will accept responsibility for producing leads that are at least as ready to buy as others in the sales pipeline. Once that happens, we’ll stop hearing that sales isn’t following up on our leads, and start hearing a greater demand for leads from marketing.

Leave a Comment