The “Headbutt” of old sales vs new marketing; The Marketing Qualified Lead.

I believe this cartoon shows the first example of “marketing.”  It also shows the divide between sales and marketing that has been growing every since. This rift has gotten worse in the past few years and that it can be traced backed to the “57% Study.”   This is the one that generated the following factoid, “Today’s business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete.”   This statement has been a driving force in marketing since it was first published back in 2011.  However, I found a great article by Jeffery L. Josephson that questions the origin and validity of the quote and even the existence of the study to which the quote as been attributed.

Whether this statistic is real or imagined, it has been used to justify lots of new marketing programs, all trying to hold those leads in the marketing part of the funnel longer in order to create deeper engagement with a potential customer before passing that lead over to a live sales person.  At the same time, sales wants those leads as soon as possible, believing that they can close everything they can get their hands on.   The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle. rams butting The quest is really to find that perfect moment where (to use the marketing lingo), a prospect becomes a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and is passed over to sales.  Qualify it too soon and all you hear is complaints from Sales over the low quality of the leads that marketing is delivering.   Hold them too long and all you hear is complaints that Marketing is “holding back” leads from Sales.

The key to minimizing the distraction of this constant back-and-forth between Sales and Marketing is in the data.  Tracking these leads from acquisition until they make a purchase or abandon is key to keeping your sales team happy and the dollars flowing.    Most marketing automation packages enable this process, however the real key is to close the loop with sales.  I’ve found the hardest thing is to get the data back from sales about why an MQL failed to close, but getting that data is the key to refining your process to make sure you are properly qualifying leads.  It also enables you to measure your impact on the top line, and to modify your marketing campaigns to make sure you keep the cash flowing, both to your department and to your company.