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{What's a lead} With such a disparity in the way the term “lead” is perceived, it’s no wonder that sales teams and their marketing counterparts often butt heads.What’s a lead? Ask this question of 10 different people, and you’ll probably get 10 different answers. In the constantly evolving digital world, the definition of a “lead” gets even more convoluted.

In marketing, the term “lead” is probably one of the most misused words of all time. To some, a lead may be a simple business card, or the list of attendees from a recent tradeshow (read: other vendors, vendors’ family members who tagged along, people looking for free swag, and — last but not least — actual potential customers). To others, a name becomes a lead only when he or she meets a certain qualification: has purchasing authority or can influence decision makers, has a clearly defined budget, has a need for your product or service, and/or their purchasing decision will be made within a certain time-frame.

With such a disparity in the way the term “lead” is perceived, it’s no wonder that sales teams and their marketing counterparts often butt heads.

So what should you do to get your sales and your marketing teams on the same page?

To start with, you need to get everyone pointed in the same direction. Think in terms of aligning your sales and marketing teams so they can agree on a shared definition of what the various stages of a lead are:

  • What does a new lead look like?
  • What does a marketing-qualified lead look like?
  • What does a sales-accepted lead look like?
  • …and so on.

When both teams are in agreement, you can avoid the vicious cycle of bellyaching that typically goes something  like this:

Sales complains that Marketing isn’t generating enough quality leads  —> Marketing blasts Sales for ignoring their leads or for not working them enough. This becomes unhealthy interoffice tension that eventually suffocates your organization’s ability to generate revenue.

Technology can be a uniter. An enlightener. A force multiplier. ~Mike KisselEnter technology. . .

Technology can be a uniter. An enlightener.
A force multiplier. {Tweet this}

Technology can empower your sales AND your marketing teams with the data and tools they need to make informed decisions. CRM systems and Marketing Automation tools help provide a single view of the truth, and automate the delivery of the right message at the right time and through the right channel so you can nurture potential buyers along their journey until they meet the agreed upon definition of a “lead” and can then be followed up on by your sales team.

This “Holy Grail” style of one-to-one communication would normally require an army of marketers, but marketing automation capabilities — such as lead generation, lead scoring, and lead nurturing — are allowing best-in-class companies to achieve 20% growth in annual revenues, according to a 2010 report by Aberdeen Research Group.

Automated lead generation and content marketing are strategies smart marketers use to increase, track, and organize their leads — on their own terms. So, my friend, if you’ve been hesitant to start a blog (it’s not so scary: click here to learn how) or write an eBook (check out some sample eBooks here), the time is NOW.

Your marketing department can deliver content to establish you as an expert in your industry. This earns the trust and respect of your leads and — what’s more — provides your sales team with trackable data (e.g., by using PURLs) so they can efficiently follow up on your leads. Then they can roll up their sleeves and work to turn earning your leads’ trust into earning their business.

PRESTO CHANGE-O. That’s how it’s done . . . when everyone on the team is reading from the same playbook, that is.

Connect with me on LinkedIn to talk more about digital marketing and lead generation. I’m always happy to “talk shop.”

Mike Kissel

See all articles by Mike Kissel → Connect with Mike online: LinkedIn

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