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I’ve been there. Sadly I’ve been there. Wandering around the wreckage of a ruined society, starving, and pursuing the delicious and mouth-watering LEEEAD. They are so easy to catch if you’re persistent…and it’s so easy to brag to the rest of the organization the miraculous successes your efforts have produced.

“We generated 32-billionty leads this quarter!”

But LEEEADS are not a useful metric to share with anybody.

Don’t talk about LEEEADS except behind secret closed marketing doors where the rooms inhabitants know the following grisly truth that is a difficult brain to swallow for some.

Nobody gives a crap about LEEEADS.

The sales people you service are secretly snickering or rolling their eyes because they live the secret truth every single day. Most of those LEEEADS are total crap. As a former Sales VP I used to work with said to me “no more Janitors!”.

Obviously I wasn’t delivering janitors to our sales organization, but that’s what it likely felt like for a sales rep some days.

I certainly wasn’t speaking his language when I talked about LEEEADS. LEEADS are top of funnel and not a good metric to share with others.

The problem with using “LEEEADS Generated” as a success metric is it doesn’t factor in lead quality. You could very easily have a lot of LEEADS in the door and none of them converting to a sale. Nobody wins in this scenario.

Two lead funnels, good and bad.

Low qualifications, huge funnel, small number of qualified LEEEADS vs Smaller funnel with higher qualified LEEEADS.

Marketers are blindly shuffling along after LEEEADS when we should be pursuing a far trickier target – Sales Opportunities.

That obnoxious Sales VP was annoyingly correct, and his input into my efforts gave me an entirely new perspective on the service I was actually providing the organization. I took this to heart and put all my efforts into pursuing real sales opportunities at all costs.

I’ve experienced some hard-fought lessons on the apocalyptic battlefield between sales and marketing.

Here are my insights

  1. Understand that the LEEEADS metric is at best an initial indicator to a successful lead gen program – it’s not the only indicator however and certainly not the best one.
  2. Never talk about LEEEADS anywhere outside of Marketing walls – you need to use sales terms, SQLs or Opportunities or Appointments Booked or whatever the internal term is.
  3. Communicate to sales openly about how a philosophy change like this will adversely affect lead volume – there will be a noticeable reduction in leads but it will ultimately pay off. Remind them.
  4. Sitting down with individual ground-level sales folks is one of the best things a marketer can do – you will learn far more spending a couple of hours a week doing this than you will poring over Adwords data.
  5. Smile to yourself when that Sales VP later comes back wanting more LEEEADS – the sales organization will always come back and complain about lead volume. Yes, the same Sales VP who told you they don’t want janitors, will complain that these new leads are great, but he wants 5x as many leads in the door. This is the ironic and silly part, just enjoy it and explain the shift to a focus on opportunities.

How Marketers Should Service the Business

We’ve written at length about sales funnels in “The 5 Myths of Funnel Management“, your sales funnel is a valuable resource for your sales team, but as a marketer you are responsible for the top of that funnel, and you’re responsible for when quality leads leave the “Marketing” funnel, and enter into the “Sales” funnel.

In the future, we’ll tell you what you need to know about lead automation, and how you can create a valuable campaign that delivers value to your prospective customers without ruining your relationship. In the meantime, read How Marketers Ruin Email to learn some things you shouldn’t do.

LEEEAD volume vs sale opportunities is a bit of a balancing act. It takes time because opportunities are further down the sales funnel. It’s further away from your marketing activities and harder to measure. It has a longer payoff and you must be patient.

This is how marketers should be supporting the sales organization and ultimately the business.

Craig Oliphant is a marketing expert with over a decade of experience in digital marketing. He has built online campaigns for multi-million dollar companies, and seen massive returns from very small investments. He has figured out ways to achieve repeatable results.