I Dig Databases And Marketing Qualified Leads

Lauraramos [Posted by Laura Ramos]

I dug Dave Taber’s latest newsletter edition about “The Life of a Lead”.  I mean, I really “Dugg It”.  The article includes a link to digg.com, so I clicked it, registered, and voted for his document. Not simply because I like his ideas, but because I want to experience the “wisdom of crowds” firsthand and see how communal voting might apply to B2B marketing.

Let me back up. Dave and I worked together at Sybase too many years ago to mention. He’s been heading up Taber & Associates for over 10 years now. His Web site leaves something to be desired and he’s not blogging (yet), but I continue to get great insight from his newsletters. He's a very smart man. From this latest letter, it looks like Dave is writing a book on Salesforce.com best practices.

There are three things Dave points out in this letter that I’d like to underline as concerns B2B marketers should tackle:

1) Terminology and nomenclature – when it comes to demand management, no one uses terms consistently, and we need to.  Dave’s list is a great start.  Rather than just "qualified leads," I would create a distinciton between marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads. I’ll get back to this in a second.

2) Create a marketing database separately from what you keep in the sales automation application. Read what he says; makes perfect sense. Dave Frankland and I wrote about “Database Marketing Fundamentals For B2B Marketers” in June, if you want to delve into the subject further. Bottomline: a marketing database keeps the messiness of demand generation away from sales.

3) Recognize the value of lead nurturing – what Dave calls cultivation. It works, but your programs need to be written down and automated.  Dave makes a great point about why you should turn nurturing into a process and how this makes it easier to use telesales outsourcing services.

I would separate qualified leads into two categories: Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).  (I’m not the first to talk about this, but I can’t find the source. If you know, please point me there.)  Why? Tracking MQLs lets marketing measure their contribution to the pipeline -- and understand how sales acts on the demand they develop. Moving a lead from MQL to SQL signals that sales agrees the lead is worthy of forecasting, of adding to the pipeline. It also provides a way for sales to return leads to marketing for further nurturing if they get cold. Depending on need, firms can divide MQLs or SQL into subcategories or stages, depending on your size and process, but I think having the distinction is important. MQLs/SQLs let marketing learn more about what sales, individually and as a whole, really considers important in generating quality leads -- and vice versa.

Which leads me back to the wisdom of crowds. I believe social mechanisms offer excellent ways to get information. So, I plan to spend more time blogging, microblogging, tagging, and voting to inform my research with firsthand experience, to get "leads" on what matters in B2B marketing, and learn from those who have been involved with social media longer.  I’m @lauraramos on Twitter now.  Follow me, vote for my research on Forrester, Digg my research, and let me know what you think the impact of social activity in B2B business buying will be.

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re: I Dig Databases And Marketing Qualified Leads

I'm a little confused as to why you would separate marketing qualified leads from sales qualified leads, other than for the purpose of getting them on the correct email lists to send relevant material. Marketing qualified leads should turn into sales qualified leads, and then be sold something. Isn't this all part of one process? In order to track these individuals easily, why would you want them in separate databases?Jeffwww.readtheanswer.com/index.php?RTA=web2

re: I Dig Databases And Marketing Qualified Leads

Your second point (create a marketing database separate from your SFA app) is a good one that too often gets short-shirt in the context of "sexier" marketing automation functionality like lead nurturing and lead scoring.Sales and marketing have very different needs when it comes to a lead database: marketing needs more detailed information about interactions (for scoring as well as to track which interactions really work) as well as ways to manage much larger number of earlier stage inquiries. Marketing is also typically more responsible for nuts and bolts issues like data quality and deduplication. Yet the desire to have a single "integrated" system for Marketing and Sales is strong (otherwise, we're pushing the two functions further apart, not bringing them closer together). This naturally leads to the need for marketing databases that sync bi-directionally with the sales systems.Regarding your focus on social media affecting B2B buying, my sense continues to be that there is a small but passionate subset of B2B buyers that use social media. In other words, you won't target the masses with social media, but it's probably not possible to sell to those folks who do use social media without being involved.

re: I Dig Databases And Marketing Qualified Leads

The problem is still that SFA's like salesforce.com were never architected from the beginning to support marketing campaigns and "unqualified" leads. NO amount of lipstick on the pig will make it so. I am waiting for the SW company to come along and design one solution for marketing and sales that is on-demand and is affordable and as easy to set up as SFDC and/or Constant Contact. Until that time, we will have two systems that sync at the point of lead hand-off when it is supposedly sales-ready.Dave and Laura and Brian Carroll are the few that stay on message when it comes to talking about the nitty-gritty of process details that are required, regardless of systems. In my experience the past 10 years, the best SFA (mostly SFDC) users are due to strong process oriented VP's of Sales and the best email/mktg automation users are due to VP's of Marketing that align themselves and partner closely with those VP's of Sales. The Sales and Marketing leadership focuses on proven process methodology and they meet regularly to work out the kinks.

re: I Dig Databases And Marketing Qualified Leads

I liked the concept of separating SQLs and MQLs. What sales considers 'qualified' is often different from what marketing may consider 'qualified' and simply marking them separately can give you a clearer picture.