Sunday, August 25, 2013

B2B Marketers, Be Careful What You Ask For

For the past few years, B2B marketing thought leaders and practitioners have been advocating that marketing should play a larger role in the demand generation process. Proponents of this view argue that marketing should have the primary responsibility for acquiring new sales leads via inbound and outbound marketing programs and for nurturing and qualifying leads until they are ready to begin a meaningful engagement with a sales rep.

According to its advocates, this model of demand generation is more consistent with how today's business buyers learn about issues and possible solutions and make buying decisions, and it also uses a company's demand generation resources more effectively and efficiently.

While the arguments supporting this demand generation model are compelling, implementing it will constitute a major change for many B2B companies. To understand how just big the change is, we only need to look at where leads are coming from today.

The following table is based on the annual Sales Performance Optimization surveys conducted by CSO Insights and includes data from the survey results published in 2011, 2012, and 2013. The survey question asked respondents to specify what percentage of their sales leads are self-generated by sales reps, what percentage are generated by marketing, and what percentage originate from other sources. As the table shows, B2B companies are still relying on salespeople to generate almost half of all new sales leads.


The distribution of lead sources shown in the above table has been fairly stable now for several years. The following chart is also based on data from the Sales Performance Optimization surveys and shows the percentage of total leads generated by marketing from 2005 through 2013. As the chart shows, marketing has been producing between 24% and about 30% of total leads for the past seven years.

The CSO Insights data makes two important points. First, it clearly shows that B2B marketers will need to "step up their game" if they want marketing to take the lead in lead generation. They must be ready to demonstrate to senior company leaders that they have a strategy that will produce enough sales-ready leads to enable their company to achieve its revenue goals.
Perhaps more importantly, the CSO Insights data makes it clear that successful lead generation will require the involvement of both marketing and sales (and other business functions as well), at least for the foreseeable future. Even if marketing significantly increases its lead generation results, it is likely that, for the next few years anyway, between 40% and 50% of leads will still be produced by sales reps and other sources.

No comments:

Post a Comment