As a modern marketer, you’ve probably experienced the limitations of traditional lead generation. In leads-based companies, there’s a lot of pressure on demand gen units to deliver more marketing-qualified leads (MQLs). Marketers feel it from their own managers, sales, and the C-suite, but that pressure doesn’t always translate to top-line growth.
- Is your sales team complaining about lead quality? Well, they may have a point. Based on a number of studies by leading analysts firms, anywhere from 12-32% of MQLs never convert to SALs. Even the conservative estimates show that two-thirds of marketing efforts don’t make an impact on pipeline.
- Is it getting more difficult to reach your MQL goals? You’re not alone. Today, people are avoiding forms altogether. Triblio’s own study shows that of the prospects that visit your site, 45% of them take 90 days or more to fill out a form.
If you can identify with any of these challenges, then you my friend have an MQL problem on your hands and need to fix it.
Step One: Go Account-Based
Let’s face it, when it comes to leads, more is not always better. When leads aren’t viable, salespeople waste time talking to unqualified leads, and marketers waste time trying to hit MQL goals when they could be running campaigns that help grow pipeline and drive revenue.
One of the main principles of account-based marketing is that sales and marketing initiatives focus on guiding the same set of target accounts towards making a purchase decision. Demand gen is no longer tasked to bring in individual leads at random. Instead, marketers nurture the 6.8 stakeholders per target buying group (CEB) and help sales penetrate deeper into high potential opportunities. Through ABM, the two teams work together towards opening sales opportunities, booking meetings with key stakeholders, and selling more product to their target accounts.
However, if everyone’s “working together,” who gets the credit when deals close? One of the biggest obstacles marketing departments face is being able to measure the value of their campaigns, in other words, attribution. Ultimately, sales is still responsible for getting that contract signed and revenue won. Marketing’s role, on the other hand, is less clear cut.
Step Two: Introducing the MQA
Years ago when lead gen was first introduced, the MQL metric gave marketers a seat at the table. High MQL numbers would indicate to the C-suite that marketing was systematically doing a lot of stuff, creating a lot of engagement, and driving a measurable amount of people to awareness.
ABM marketers don’t count leads. Oftentimes, they’re eliminating forms from their websites and ungating their best content because they’re focused not on lead gen but on improving the customer experience and opening conversations with sales. Theoretically, implementing an ABM program allows marketers to directly impact pipeline and revenue, but without MQLs, how do they report their contributions to the C-suite? What KPIs indicate ABM success?
Introducing, the Marketing Qualified Account (MQA). Just as MQLs are based on lead scores, MQAs are based on account scores. Rather than score the engagement of individual prospects, account scores show the engagement of all stakeholders within an account. With an ABM tool, you can aggregate all types of activities into one score from event attendance to engagement with email campaigns, ad impressions, third party intent, and web content, to name a few.
Within such a tool, marketers can set an MQA threshold, a specific account score that indicates when that account is ready to talk to sales. Reaching MQA also gives marketers a fair claim to pipeline and revenue contribution, which helps solve attribution challenges.
At the end of the day, fixing your MQL problem requires you to ditch it altogether. Instead of coming up with more ways to bring in more leads, shift to ABM. Think about how you can make a difference within your company’s target accounts. Oftentimes, you’ll find that it’s not enough to adopt new campaigns and channels. A full transition to the account-based model requires new goals and new KPIs like the MQA. You may need to bring in your strategy team, and you’ll definitely need to work more closely with sales. Redefining strategies and goals is challenging and takes time. But ultimately, a more targeted approach will bring in more revenue with less wasted spend–and that’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it?