Demand generation for me has always been about driving leads into the sales funnel. And qualified leads are considered the ones that have an immediate project and can turn into revenue in the next 6-12 months. But I often question what truly makes a qualified lead. If the definition of “qualified” is to have budget and project requirements than marketing to really no more than casting a wider net than perhaps sales can do on their own. Now don’t get me wrong, this is an important function of marketing and a key measurement to determine success but I want to explore the idea of marketing not always “catching” the projects but being instrumental in starting the discussion.
Currently I am working with a company that sells business intelligence solutions. Now this space is quite mature and most of the larger organizations already have a solution in place (and have spent a great deal of money already) so do I just focus on the new businesses, those who are ready to purchase a solution or the ones who already know they need an alternative? I do and sales would gladly take those leads all day long but with that usually comes a nice RFP or some sort of competitive shoot out. So we started to discuss, how can marketing not just capture “qualified” leads but start customer projects and thus generate the “qualified” lead from scratch.
Package the pain and provide the band aide
We recently tried a new approach in one of our marketing campaigns. We found a customer who had a pain and used our solution to stop this pain and has recognized results. Now we packaged up that pain and the great success stories and sought out other companies with the same need. In our case, we have a great customer who is a package manufacturer and when we were there on a recent visit, I happened to meet Tara, Tara is the manager of global supplier quality and while she would never be someone who discussed BI solutions, she used the outcome of our solution in her every day job. Tara explained that with our solution she is looking at real time information on supplier quality (a huge pain in her industry) and has already attributed millions of dollars in saving because she is able to be better informed and negotiate better rates with her suppliers.
Now, time to find the rest of the Taras in the world. We focused our latest campaign on supplier quality. Subtle messages around BI but more importantly solutions to pain that Global Suppliers around the world are experiencing. The response was overwhelming and I would say that marketing is starting projects. We are helping business find a unique case for BI and starting the dialogue in an organization that may have thought their current solution was just good enough.
No doubt this approach will take longer, these are not the “hottest” leads in the batch but we are building a brand among a new part of the business that can be influential and guide the discussion starting a new project. Nothing has closed as of yet but I am optimistic. Stay tuned for some results soon.