One of the biggest failure points in content marketing is not actually in marketing—It’s the handoff from marketing to sales.
That’s because most sales and marketing organizations are not properly aligned.
Does this sound familiar?
Marketing and sales leaders read the white papers and attend to the webinars about alignment, and so they get in a conference room, establish the same vocabulary and service level agreements. (i.e. This is how many leads marketing is going to produce, this is how much time sales has to follow up, this is how we’ll code these things) and they walk out thinking that they’re aligned.
The breakdown occurs immediately when the people that sales assigns to follow up on the leads are the same people that were the enterprise sales reps of the late 90s/early 2000s. In other words, highly compensated sales reps with large quotas—people who must sell something this quarter or they lose their jobs or they can’t feed their families.
In reality, generating a marketing qualified lead (someone demonstrates digital click behavior indicating interest) is not the same as a sales qualified lead (someone that demonstrates interest and agrees to take a meeting with sales rep).
If someone has downloaded your white paper, that simply means that they are interested in that topic. It’s certainly a good thing to know because it provides lead intelligence, and a marketing or sales professional can take action on that lead based on the response.
It does not, however, mean that they have the budget, authority, need, or the time frame to actually make a purchase.
So if you have highly compensated sales rep carrying a large quota that has been tasked with following up on MQLs (marketing qualified leads), they’re going to be highly disappointed because most of these people don’t want to talk to a sales rep yet at this point.
In short, these are expensive resources to have on the phone and in email trying to get a hold of people that downloaded a white paper, and unfortunately, they’re going to think that marketing doesn’t know what a real lead is.
This certainly isn’t bringing the two organizations together and it’s really not a good way to allocate your marketing and sales expenditures to acquire customers.
There’s more of a fundamental shift in the way that sales organizations need to look at how they are going to pursue the marketing qualified lead.
MQLs are good prospects.
You have a person that meets your ideal prospect profile, they have declared interest in you and your brand because they’re consuming your content, and you know that the topic resonates. But they still need to be nurtured with more content until they’re sales ready, and it’s certainly not the right time to flip it over to an expensive sales rep and hope for the best.