Lead generation is one of the toughest jobs in marketing and getting tougher in the current environment. It’s also the most essential. If you’re not generating leads, the sales team isn’t closing deals, and if the sales team isn’t closing deals, the company isn’t making money. For B2B companies especially, lead generation is where everything starts, so let’s take a moment to examine what it is, how it works and how you can make it work better.
Let’s start with a basic definition: B2B lead generation is whatever methods you use to create demand for your company’s products and services. Lead generation activities can include digital ad campaigns, webinars, whitepapers, events, search marketing, landing pages, etc. No matter what industry you’re in, lead generation is how you get prospects interested in what your company sells.
Using data to align sales and marketing
Now, let’s take a look at how lead generation works. Once leads are created by an initial contact (webinar, digital ad, etc.), they have to be nurtured and moved through the marketing and sales funnel to convert the lead to a sale. At most B2B companies, this activity is a team sport: marketing and sales work together to advance leads through the funnel.
One obstacle to a smooth working relationship between the two groups is data silos. There’s a simple solution to that problem: integrate martech data with the CRM platform so that everyone has a single source of data truth. When marketing and sales data are on the same platform, it’s possible to track engagement with leads (including digital) inside the CRM so that both teams are aligned on metrics.
With full funnel data, you can see the results of lead generation campaigns at each stage, gaining insight into how each program influences pipeline and revenue. Campaign attribution models can provide a comprehensive view of performance across market segments inside the CRM. With this information, you can optimize your lead generation activities to improve performance.
Funnel data inside the CRM lets lead gen professionals not only zero in on which campaigns are producing and which aren’t, but also provides visibility into how sales handles leads, providing metrics on how long it takes for a marketing qualified lead to be accepted by sales. The right performance management technology makes it simple to create reports to ensure that sales follows up on opportunities.
Using Leads as a Lever to Achieve Revenue Goals
Once you’re able to track lead generation performance and monitor the progress of leads at every stage of the sales funnel — including the marketing-to-sales handoff — you’ll be able to use leads as a lever to make sure you hit revenue targets. Working collaboratively with sales, you can identify revenue goals and determine the average deal size, lead volume and velocity you need to meet your objectives.
To use leads as a lever, start by analyzing historical demand generation data to gauge sales velocity. Working backwards from your revenue target and the timeframe you have to achieve it, you can determine how many leads you need to generate, the average deal size you need to meet your goal and how quickly the leads must move through the marketing and sales funnel to hit the target.
With marketing technology like Full Circle’s Response Management and the Full Circle Method, you can capture lead velocity over time through each funnel stage to monitor progress toward the goal and make adjustments to your lead generation strategy along the way so you can stay on track. In this way, you can also identify any bottlenecks in the process and address them so that you don’t fall behind.
Lead generation may be the toughest job in marketing, but data and a methodology takes the mystery out of it. When you can identify what works and what doesn’t, measure velocity through the sales funnel and address any obstacles a lead encounters along the way to conversion, lead generation becomes science instead of guesswork. And the same science makes it clear that lead generation fuels the revenue engine.