In today's competitive B2B marketing landscape, the effectiveness of lead generation remains a hot topic of discussion. Sonja Webb, Marketing Manager at OfficeMax, shares her opinion on Niamh Carroll's article on "Why it’s time to move beyond lead generation as a measure of effectiveness in B2B marketing" featured in Marketing Week. While the article is gated, Sonja's commentary sheds light on the importance of the role of lead generation and offers alternative strategies for driving revenue.

"When marketers are faced with that age-old challenge of proving their worth, is it a good idea to question the value of lead-gen? It takes a brave marketer, but it could be the right move - so long as you offer an alternative solution for helping sales to drive revenue.

Niamh Carroll’s recent article in Marketing Week shared the startling revelation from the CMO Council that nearly two-thirds of American B2B marketers (64%) think their organisation’s lead-gen strategy is only slightly or not at all effective.

The central premise of the article is that when marketers are under pressure to prove short-term value, it can be tempting to hide behind Marketing Qualified Leads as proof that we are contributing to the success of the business. However, as CMO and consultant Mary-Anne Russell puts it “Anyone can fill the funnel with 1,000 leads but if those 1,000 leads are turning into nothing then why bother?”

And let’s not forget that 1,000 bad-quality leads actually turn into 1,000 tasks for our unfortunate colleagues who have to follow up on them!

Peter Weinberg, former global head of development at the LinkedIn B2B Institute provides some interesting food for thought with his 95:5 rule, devised after research by Weinberg, Jon Lombardo and Professor John Dawes of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. Weinberg explains that “only 5% of B2B buyers are in-market to buy right now. That means 95% of the buyers that you reach are out-of-market and won’t buy for months or even years. Lead gen works on the 5% who are actively in market, but it’s a very small opportunity because 95% of buyers are future buyers, so even if you’re extremely good at lead gen… the effectiveness or impact is capped at 5%”.

This article is great food-for-thought for any marketer wanting to form a closer working relationship with their sales colleagues. Questions around the value of marketing should reduce when working in partnership with sales towards a shared goal and revenue target. It helps to jointly review each stage of the sales funnel, identifying where marketing can assist with moving leads faster– and converting.

This can often mean a mindset shift for marketers especially - instead of competing for who gets the credit for a sale, think of marketing’s purpose as to make the sales team look good. For example;

  • Cultivate the right brand strategy – so that even as they approach a new prospect, they already know/like the brand
  • Arm sales with content for social media posts and insights - positioning themselves as industry experts so that they are top of mind when customers are ready to buy
  • Provide collateral and tools so that when those good quality marketing leads do come in, sales have a consistent message to share

Lead-gen does have a place so long as you test, learn and (swiftly) cut out the activity that’s not delivering – while coupling it with other activity. How much time is dedicated to lead-gen activity compared to brand building or sales enablement activity is the million-dollar question – but shifting the focus seems like a good idea.

Is lead-gen working for you? What else are you doing to add value for the sales team? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic."

Source: Sonja Webb, 05 March 2024