How to Make Your B2B Lead Management Program Fail – Part 5

Jeff Cleary  |  Managing Director

January 18, 2017

Mistake #1: You set the wrong business goals

Mistake #2: Your content does not reflect an understanding of the buyer’s journey

Mistake #3: You treat all inquiries alike 

Mistake #4:  You’re not getting sales force buy-in

In a B2B setting, your goal is to build interest and credibility with your target audience. That isn’t accomplished with a single contact. You’re driving multiple contacts and interactions over time. Recognizing and leveraging historical contact data is essential to creating the best prospect experience. But it’s a two-way street. You also need feedback from sales and service.

Mistake #5: You let the existing infrastructure compromise your process

According to Ascend2, 54% of companies use a CRM/sales automation system. And Gleanster says that 79% of top-performing companies have been using marketing automation for more than two years.

Why, then, are so many B2B companies still struggling with data infrastructure? Why are so many companies still trying to shoehorn their lead management system into an existing dysfunctional data environment?

Most likely, it was developed in isolation, without feedback from sales and service, and without your CIO’s understanding of your mission and its importance to the organization’s profits. The simple fact is, your lead management system can’t succeed when you try to ram it into an uncooperative legacy system or a system that was not developed with sales and marketing in mind. You absolutely must enroll your IT director and your CIO in your vision and mission first. Without them on board, you will fail.

What kinds of data issues should you be discussing with them? A few examples:

  • Can your system maintain a comprehensive data environment of all customers and prospects?
  • Does it include historical contact and transaction information?
  • Can responses be easily updated with past history to deliver a complete view?
  • Is it flexible enough to capture new vertical markets as you add them? Subverticals?
  • What kind of dashboard does it support? Can it be easily modified to accommodate your KPIs? (Watch for Mistake #6: You Fail to Establish a Marketing Dashboard, coming next week.)

These questions and others have ramifications for the data environment you need to support your program, from both communications and reporting perspectives. A thorough development of your data requirements should address all facets of your process. Often, we’ll see businesses compromise on these requirements due to corporate infrastructure and/or conflicting priorities across different business units. With each compromise, you limit the effectiveness of your demand generation process.

One example of a bad compromise: trying to fit your sales process to your existing infrastructure vs. getting the right infrastructure in place to support your process. This can often lead to inefficiencies across your organization (for example, using multiple spreadsheets or databases to track sales and marketing activities), with constant workarounds to allow the team to operate.

You’ll recognize a workaround if you hear a statement like this: “Can we just repurpose [insert system name here] to track [insert new requirement here]?” Workarounds often lead to the buildup of “technical debt” that can cost an organization significantly more dollars down the road vs. spending the time up front to get the right solution in place.

Business units that work in silos often end up with disparate systems and data environments that don’t easily share data. Each business unit is trying to accomplish its own organizational goals, using what it believes is the right tool for its needs, but it doesn’t consider the impact on the rest of the organization. Often, Sales uses its system to track prospects and leads, Marketing uses a different system to send customer and prospect communications, and Service tracks customer issues through yet another system. This never works.

Bottom line: Don’t let the infrastructure dictate your sales goals. Get buy-in up front to create the right environment to help ensure your success.

Next Week: Mistake #6 — You fail to establish a marketing dashboard

Jeff Cleary |  Managing Director
Jeff, a University of Massachusetts grad, worked for others for many years. In 1990, Jeff teamed up with Mike Osborn to form Catalyst. Smart move. In his role as managing director, he continually strives to meet and exceed client expectations as well as his employees’, always ensuring a positive, productive workplace.

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