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B2B Marketing Tips from MarketingSherpa's Conference

I presented at and attended the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit here near Boston today. Great conference with some very smart folks.

I’m bringing home truly useful tips, (as well as recharged batteries) but my favorites were from Brian Carroll (startwithalead.com). He talked about how sales and marketing can better co-exist.

Agree on the definition of a sales-ready lead.
This will require some negotiation between sales and marketing. As marketers, we can’t honor all requests. Every additional piece of info about a lead we ask reduces the chance that that person will give it to us. It adds “friction” to the lead-gen process. Example: budget. At the early stage we want to talk to a customer, do they really have a budget? Probably not. And are they going to be honest if they share it? Probably not.

What is a lead, anyway?
Whatever you and sales agree on, less is more. Too many questions to asks means a low volume of leads.

Brian suggested that the most basic definition of a lead is a person who has a need, and wants to talk to someone.

Ask if the lead is ready to talk to sales.
Simple idea: put a checkbox on your lead gen form: “Would you like to be contacted yet by a sales rep?” (Or whatever your term for a sales rep is.) If they’re not ready to talk to sales, then they’re probably not sales-ready. Duh.

Are you nurturing or marketing?
This struck a little too close to home for me. Nurturing means sending along content that would be useful even if the person weren’t a future customer. Marketing is the sort of stuff that’s just too overt, too salesy. It’s the sort of thing that forces leads to “emotionally unsubscribe.” That is: put your email in their junk folder or just simply ignore you.

Don’t you DARE call them leads.
Brian asked a great question: how would we treat them differently if we called them “future customers”? It’d be more of a relationship, and less carnival barking.

1 Lead Qual person to every 4 field reps, maximum.
They can’t support that many field reps if you’ve got the lead machine cranking. Most B2B companies have pretty complex, long sales. Webtrends certainly does. Since you can’t really capture a future customer’s needs in a form — or they’re unwilling to share — a simple phone call from lead qual can do a lot to focus your sales people on selling, rather than prospecting.

(Wait, what does that photo have to do with anything?)
Absolutely nothing at all. I love cycling. Pretty, though, huh? That was taken in Washougal, WA at a cyclocross race. Yes, that’s me grinding away up the hill.

Follow the conference on Twitter
The attendees have done a great job covering the conference on Twitter. Search for the hashtag: #b2bsummit.

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