B2B Marketing’s Job #1: Sales Enablement

If you have never been confronted by a sales person over lead quality, you can stop reading this blog post now:

The primary source of tension between marketing and sales is this: Marketing wants to know what sales does with all the leads they generate. In response to the question, sales says, “What leads? Those leads were awful; send us better leads.” Sound familiar?

The basic problem is that marketing and sales don’t agree on what constitutes a lead. The deeper issue is that many marketers are still learning what it takes to develop truly qualified demand and pass the right information to sales in a way that helps sales to progress an opportunity quickly and consistently.

Resolving this situation takes a lot of work, but starts with getting marketing and sales to see that their mutual success increases when their activities – and feedback loops – align around common goals. It also requires understanding that the overall firm wins competitively, grows revenue, and builds market share more efficiently by applying lower-cost marketing resources to the front-end of this process and deeper customer insight to the backend hand-off between marketing and sales. While technology alone rarely fixes this, firms don’t get to top performance without marketing automation to help segment and target customers – and to focus sales on topics that resonate with buyers and create dialogue.

When marketing delivers a new batch of leads, sales wants to know quickly which have the most potential. In my research, I show how top marketers build practices that score leads numerically, route top-scoring leads to sales, and – more often – use visual tools to engage with sales. This is where many marketing automation vendors are heading and Eloqua has taken a major step in this direction with its announcement of Prospect Profiler today.

Sales-centric Dashboard Helps Track Digital Activity

In short, this tool gives sales a graphical, one-stop interface that tracks a prospect’s digital footprints and summarizes buyer activity across Web content, online registration form (for various events), email, and online search touchpoints. If marketing says, “we think this is a hot lead,” Prospect Profiler shows visually why that is the case.

More importantly (although Eloqua doesn’t mention it in its press release), this tool helps extend marketing’s impact on the sales organization. Campaign and drip nurturing reports are useful, but giving sales a tool that helps individual reps know how involved one prospect is compared to another is a sure way of cementing marketing’s value for enabling smarter sales conversations.

Collaboration with and the sharing of content among salespeople are key themes I will explore next month in my blog posts and upcoming research on the Lead Management Automation market. Let me know what you think of Eloqua’s announcement and share your thoughts on which features you think are essential when investing in automation for B2B marketing.

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