What is the best way to organise a B2B lead generation team? What tactics are best? Who is responsible for delivery and what are the key relationships?
Without a solid strategy, whatever tactics are employed are likely to fail. Without the right team and (crucially) the right team dynamics achieving lead generation goals will be difficult.
Defining Lead Generation Responsibilities
The first step is to identify precisely what is (and what is not) a lead. Next, decide on marketing and sales responsibilities.
How far should marketing nurture leads before sales take over? To avoid conflict between marketing and sales this should be agreed upon at an early stage.
Strong management of the sales and marketing operation is needed to ensure leads are progressed and not routinely discarded. Some salespeople will tend to fall back on their long-established relationships. They may focus only on a small group of customers rather than chasing down new leads.
Marketing must understand there is little point in sales wasting time chasing down poor quality sales leads. The right type of lead, addressed at the right time, at the right point in the sales process has the best chance of a conversion.
Marketing may blame sales for ignoring the larger picture in the pursuit of short term opportunities. Sales can claim marketing is remote from the customer and market and fails to support their everyday needs.
Choosing Lead Generation Tactics
With responsibilities defined, the next step is to decide what lead generation tactics are best. Base that decision on a solid analysis of what has worked well (and not) in the past.
Whatever tactics are part of the lead generation process it is probable content will fuel the process. Content should build credibility and deliver the information a customer decision-making team needs to progress their purchasing decision. It should help the customer deal with the problems they face.
The sales department is crucial to success. They are best placed to identify what information customers need at various points in the sales process. They will also have a view on the best delivery methods and how to engage.
An experienced editor in chief is important to undercover and modify existing content. They need to combine them with new content and deliver consistently against the content marketing plan.
Of course, content is only part of the mix. It must be delivered to the customer at the most appropriate point in time. A wide range of marketing techniques is available. The challenge is to select those that are most effective.
Online vs Offline
It is important to understand the strength of the brand and authority (as defined by the search engines). A professional web presence is vital but if brand and authority are weak, it will be difficult to (organically) drive potential new customers to that website.
It is important to understand the customer journey and develop paid vs organic strategies to match that journey. Content is of little use unless it matches the prospect intent AND it is deliverable at the appropriate point. The competitive landscape will influence the decision-making process.
Offline marketing still has a significant part to play. When the potential of the World Wide Web was recognised as a marketing tool, effort switched from offline to online partially because it was perceived as significantly cheaper.
That has changed, as offline marketing can often deliver a higher ROI than online. In B2B markets, offline activities such as PR and events have always been important marketing tools.
In House Team vs Outsourced
If the in-house marketing department is inexperienced external support from an experienced mentor or agency can help. Ultimately, nobody can know the customer, competitors and the market better than an in house team. That said, a mentor or trainer can provide support until the in house team is up to speed.
Marketing must be responsible for generating enough of the right type and quality sales leads. It is then sales responsibility for taking those leads to a successful conclusion with marketing support where needed. Sales should predict potential roadblocks that could derail the sales process and work with marketing to address those roadblocks in good time.