Prospective Customer: We’re looking for a marketing partner that can do lead gen for us.
Me: Oh yeah? I call buzzword bull$#!t on you.
Here comes another pet peeve article. The conversation above happens all the time. I never actually call bulls#!t, but I do immediately dig into what the prospective customer means when they say “lead gen”. I do this because what most customers really mean is “We’re looking for someone who can deliver qualified sales opportunities that are nearly guaranteed to close”. Well howdy do. That’s a tad different than lead gen which is capturing contact information for a potentially interested prospect that meets broad marketing qualification criteria.
That sounds like a semantic difference, right? I wouldn’t bother to wax rhapsodic on this pet peeve except businesses are also starting to associate budget and effort for lead gen with the slam dunk sales opportunity result described above. Hey, for small dollar value or consumer sales, this might be possible. If you can swipe a credit card to buy it on the spot, lead gen marketing tactics can probably find you immediate sales. But if you think an enterprise buyer contemplating a large recurring expense or a 7 figure capital investment is going to buy from you based on a Google ad or white paper download alone, you probably have some expectations issues. One common idea I see desperate B2B companies latching onto is the idea they can buy contacts from a list broker and then spam enterprise stakeholders into a purchase. When I say it like that, it starts to sound a little ridiculous, and it is.
Instead of calling the goal lead gen, and setting our effort and budget expectations at that level, I’d recommend we call it what it is: “sales”. And if you aren’t doing anything to fill the sales pipeline or move prospects through it, let’s also tack on “demand generation”, “lead nurturing” and “opportunity development” before sales. Long term stability and success doesn’t often come from a short cut or silver bullet
And now for the self-promotional part of our program…
Our team does all those things that ultimately lead to closed sales, but for B2B companies selling to enterprise customers, it takes a lot more than cold calling or search advertising. We can help you build a brand reputation that supports the spend you need customers to invest in you, we can target closable accounts (usually through ABM) that actually have problems for which you have solutions, and we can measure, adjust and run that robust marketing machine over the course of time as your sales talent closes and maintains those customer relationships.
So, sure, let’s also do some lead gen together…as long as someone is handling the parts that turn those leads into sales.