By Scott Levine
Whose job is it to generate leads? Back in the day, the Fuller Brush man (door-to-door salesman for you younger folks) had to generate his own leads. He had a fool-proof method for generating leads. He just rapped his knuckles on the door or rang the bell, and more often than not, voila, a lead was generated. It might not have been a great lead. It certainly was not what we, as automated marketers of present day, would consider a lead; but it was indeed a lead, and could often “lead” to a sale.
Lead generation or lead gen as it is now known, has come a long way. Traditionally, it has been, and still is, the marketing department’s function to obtain leads and the sales department’s function to sell those leads. This has led to what some of us called the longest-running debate in business: The marketing department is always wondering why the sales department doesn’t work the leads that the marketing department has worked so hard to accumulate. The sales department always complains about the low quality of leads that the marketing department has given them to work with. So, is it bad leads or bad salespeople? The debate rages on. Often, it is a mix of both: subpar leads and the sales department’s lack of faith in which the leads usually cause the loser in this debate to be the business.
How then, can we generate good leads from marketing, and place those leads in the sales funnel for nurturing until they are good and ready for sales to attack them? How can we make sure that the sales department receives those leads when they are most likely to be sold? How can marketing work hand in hand with sales to achieve the same goal, which is to convert those leads into customers?
Let us never lose focus of what the goal of lead generation is. It is always customer acquisition. There have been many advances in the discipline of lead generation—and the subsequent discipline of lead nurturing. The magic trick that marketers strive for is to place the nurtured lead in the sales funnel at precisely the correct time. If this is accomplished, the chances for sales success get bumped up to the high percentages.
Leads can be generated through a client’s database, through specific data mining, through list purchases, through marketing and advertising efforts, through landing page Web sites, through the utilization of PURL’s (Personal URL’s with pre-loaded data for the prospect), and through many other innovative and current technologies.
However, generating the leads without a comprehensive, coherent, strategic, concise plan to nurture those leads and to process them for cultivation and dissemination to the sales department at the correct moment is a bad plan.