As a modern marketer, you’ve probably experienced the limitations of traditional lead generation. In leads-based organizations, there’s a lot of pressure on demand gen units to deliver ever more marketing-qualified leads (MQLs). Marketers feel it from their own managers, sales reps, and the C-suite, but that pressure doesn’t always translate into growth. That’s why lead gen can be so frustrating.
Delivering MQLs often feels like a Sisyphean task. You hit your number one month, and then it starts all over again. As marketers, we rarely get to reap the fruits of our own labor because, at the end of the day, sales is the one forming relationships with customers and closing deals. Sales steals the thunder and gets all the recognition for bringing in revenue.
It’s an MQL nightmare–is there any way out?
Step One: Address The Truth Behind the Problem
Let’s take a look at some of the voices that are haunting your MQL nightmare.
“My leads suck!”
“We need more.”
“Why aren’t people clicking on our ads?”
“Where can we find more leads?”
“Are there any other channels out there?”
“Our pipeline’s not healthy.”
“I don’t see enough revenue growth.”
“Do whatever you can to capture more emails.”
Boiled down, most of these complaints fall under three major challenges:
- Lead gen has little influence over the most valuable deals. Data from the Bridge Group shows that marketing sources 49% of smaller deals (< $5k) but only 28% of larger deals ($100k+).
- Sales is complaining about lead quality. Well, they may have a point. According to 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.
- Prospects aren’t filling out forms. 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.
These challenges run deep within an organization’s marketing and sales strategies. The fix for your MQL problem can’t just be patched by a new channel or campaign. However, strategic changes are difficult to implement. Lead gen is a well-oiled machine, and marketers who are measured on MQLs don’t want to miss their number or admit that their lead quality is going down. No one wants to confront management about resetting lead goals either–that could really make things complicated.
What’s the alternative? How do you dig yourself out of an MQL nightmare?
Step Two: Go Account-Based
Instead of trying to optimize lead gen, consider shifting to an account-based marketing strategy. 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.
- Set goals that have a measurable impact on valuable deals. While the MQL process entails a clean hand-off from marketing to sales, ABM encourages marketers to work with, not against sales. For the same set of target accounts, both teams work towards goals that directly impact revenue such as opening sales opportunities, booking meetings with key stakeholders, and selling more product.
- Agree on your target accounts. Between marketing, sales, and strategy, most account-based organizations will agree on a handful of top tier accounts, a longer list of named accounts, and designated target criteria for inbound requests. This way, there’s no question about whether a prospect is in target.
- Leverage multiple channels to reach all the key stakeholders. Instead of nurturing just anyone who’s opened an email, account-based marketers target all 6.8 stakeholders per target buying group (CEB) across multiple channels. Email may work for one stakeholder, but another might be more likely to see an ad while browsing the news or attend a local event. Ongoing and consistent marketing campaigns help sales penetrate deeper into high potential opportunities early in the purchase journey and throughout.
At the end of the day, we believe fixing your MQL problem means ditching it altogether. Instead of coming up with more ways to bring in more leads, think about how you can make a difference on pipeline and revenue growth. How can you influence your company’s target accounts? Redefining a team’s strategy and goals is challenging and takes time. You may need to bring in your strategy team, and you’ll definitely need to work more closely with sales. 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?