B2B Demand Generation Best Practices: Five Tips for Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing

Follow these five tips to create a snowball effect of mutual benefit (and goodwill) between sales and marketing.

If you’re in the same boat as the demand generation marketers referenced in findings below, I have some good news for you.

  • “53.4% of respondents said their company has no formal process for generating, clarifying and validating leads.”—CMO Counsel Survey
  • “Business acquisition experts estimate that 80% of leads are typically lost or ignored.“—GlobalSpec report

The good news is that this is not hard stuff to resolve, but it does take focus, discipline and conversation. The five tips outlined below can provide you with a good framework to begin this process.

Tip #1: Define “Lead”

Based on my experience with hundreds of B2B  marketers (and thousands of campaigns), I’ve come to realize that less than half have a definition of “lead” that is clear, written down and unanimously agreed on by sales and marketing.

It’s key to get both sales and marketing in the room to hash out that defintion—by no means an easy task. If attendance for your first lead definition summit is poor, show them you mean business. Cancel or dismiss that meeting, elevate the issue up the relevant food chains, and reschedule.

Once your key sales and marketing people are assembled, discuss “what is a lead” based on multiple variables from persona (or job role) to pain points and business drivers. This insight can also be useful to your content planning work.

Tip #2: Determine How You Will Close the Loop

Agree on the “system.” Most organizations have a CRM solution. Salesforce.com is far and away the defacto standard in my experience. This step is a lengthy process, but I find most organizations have this in place today.

Tip #3: Handling “Inquiries”—Nurture and Re-qualification

A typical demand generation campaign yields about 5-15% of leads that should be considered SQLs (sales qualified leads), meaning they meet the sales definition of “a lead.” This percentage can vary greatly by tactic (with highly targeted campaigns yielding the best results, but at a greater cost).

Nurture campaigns will transition over 25% of marketing inquiries to SQLs. This is especially true with solutions that have a long sales cycle (6-18 months).

Tip #4: Educating and Rewarding Sales

Educate sales about the benefits of the marketing programs you’re about to employ BEFORE they go to market. Show them the program materials you’ve developed and remind them of the lead qualification process that all inquiries go through (and of course, remind them that they helped define what a lead is).

As simple as it sounds, this type of education can get a sales team excited about following up on leads.

Also, a small incentive to reward follow-up can drive huge returns. One client of mine offered a $20 Starbucks gift card to sales folks who followed up on leads.

Tip #5: Re-Evaluate “Lead” Criteria

There’s a good chance that the lead criteria (defined in Tip #1) will require some adjustment after your first campaign. Re-engage with your sales team for a formal discussion within two weeks of a campaign going to market and at the end of the campaign. Talk through their experiences with the leads they’ve been given to date.

Do you have any tips to add? Please share them in the comments.

One Response to B2B Demand Generation Best Practices: Five Tips for Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing

  1. Hi Lauren,

    good list on the leads bit.

    I think integration only is possible when objectives are shared between marketing and sales with clear responsibilities and trust. If those are non-existent any discussion around leads and follow-up will be less effective.


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