It’s easy to get blinded by big numbers. Statistics tend to be more impressive when the numbers are staggering. Profits look better when multiple commas separate the numbers, and business appears to be booming with an uptick in the number of clients.
As a result, marketing teams often feel like the sales team is always pushing them for more, and quantity is measuring their worth. Therefore, the majority of B2B digital marketers have been focused on driving as much traffic as possible to their websites over the last decade.
However, the quantity of leads tends to be a ‘feel-good metric’. Marketing teams can point to this big number, their pool of prospects, and equate it with time and money well-spent.
But sales teams, and often senior management on both sides (sales and marketing), aren’t solely interested in significant numbers — they’re looking for effectiveness, and quality leads that fit the bill.
Digital traffic, after all, can be gamed. If you’re spending big on outbound selling, marketing or paid digital advertising, you’ll see traffic to your website. However, once you turn that switch off, the traffic stops, and you no longer have an audience.
That said, choosing to focus on securing quality leads might seem like a better choice then, but unfortunately, it’s not so simple. The problem here is twofold:
How can you better qualify a lead?
How can one change the organization to prioritize quality from the beginning?
When starting to re-prioritize strategy to focus on quality leads, the first natural question is how to improve that quality. Indeed, many marketing teams are trying to qualify their leads better. As they classify prospects, they’re already looking at a variety of criteria to help make the distinction between “interested” and “uninterested.”
However, in today’s digital world, it’s difficult to assess for that interest. Criteria can also be difficult to determine. Is a click or download representative of interest? What if that download resulted in a rapid browse followed by one-click trash? At which part of the process is the buyer?
Sales and marketing teams are going to have to come to terms with the fact that the answer to those questions might not be clear-cut, and might amount to a combination of various qualifiers.
A lead might have to meet numerous criteria - different actions that could indicate interest - to reach “quality” status. So what exactly is that criteria? Again, hard to say, as it’s dependent on each business.
Therefore, organizations should come up with their own sets of qualifiers, relative to their business and goals, to ensure that they have a way to classify leads.
Next, they should also look to flip the digital marketing model on its head. The legacy approach of digital marketing involved attracting as many possible leads as you could get to your website. Driving a large quantity of traffic was followed by nurturing these somewhat random inbounds with emails and further identifying companies from their to target.
Account-based Marketing (ABM), takes the matter of qualifying leads to the top of the funnel and reverses the script. An ABM approach identifies target companies first and follows that targeting with providing quality prospects personalized content or campaigns, which are of specific interest to their businesses. From there, the focus is on building lasting business relationships.
The focus around what prospective sales leads are looking for creates better alignment between sales and marketing, and the executives leading both teams. Rather than marketing merely trying to turn on a hose of traffic and leaving sales to decipher the quality of these leads, ABM enables marketing to focus on providing content and promotion with real potential sales leads in mind.
Alignment here can also be good for the bottom line. According to Forrester Research, organizations with aligned sales and marketing teams see an average of 32% annual revenue growth, while less aligned companies see a 7% decline in growth.
Finally, it enables both teams to move away from the quality versus quantity leads debate, and towards closing key accounts. No time or aspect of marketing spend is wasted, and a 'tag-team' champion of marketing and sales is formed!