Where’s the skin in the MQL game?

Demand Creation ‌• June 18, 2013

There is not a day (or in some cases, an hour) that goes by where I don’t get an email or see an article talking about the latest way to develop demand, capture demand, create better copy, etc. In my opinion, all of this information is great – it speaks to the amount of money being spent, experience being used, and brainpower being expelled to develop new ways to create leads for organizations. Clearly, marketers have serious skin in the Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) game. It’s their budget, resources, and planning that create MQLs–they are the original owners of leads that will go through the funnel.

But, are leads really the desired end product? Probably not.

Marketers I interact with daily have shared with me that their critical challenge is not so much generating lead flow, but rather having the lead flow they generate turn into revenue. And if revenue is the end product organizations are truly after (hint: it is), then you have to look to where it’s owned–in sales.

Revenue creation (and the incentive to produce it) is typically wholly owned by the sales team.   While we’d all like to think we’re on the same page and that sales is doing everything it can to work the MQLs passed over from marketing, this is not always the case. Sometimes there are good reasons and sometimes there are flimsy reasons, but the end result is that MQLs go un-worked.

To combat this and get sales focused on working and closing MQLs, marketers need to think like salespeople, understand the incentives driving salespeople, and listen to what they are really saying when the feedback they hear is “these leads are no good.”  Ultimately, to get sales invested in the MQL game, marketers may consider taking a hard line with the sales team to get them to work the MQLs they produce.  What could this look like? Well, you could try methods such as:

  • Setting time triggers that pull non-contacted MQLs from one salesperson and give to another (in non-territory aligned sales groups)
  • Redistributing MQLs not entered into the pipeline after a certain amount of time and giving to another salesperson
  • Giving unrealistic salespeople exactly what they want–just the leads that meet their incredibly rigid standards–to show them just how thin the funnel gets when they ask for the improbable (title X at company Y with Z installed 5+ years ago and a direct report group of no more than 10 and headquartered in Guam…)

Some of these methods may seem a bit intense and I would certainly recommend you don’t undertake any drastic changes without a lot of communication and buy-in from the powers that be. However, it has been my experience that the best salespeople are not monetarily motivated. For the best reps, money is simply a means of keeping score. I’d wager that your best salespeople will respond well and put more skin in the MQL game, ensuring that everyone is doing his part to get leads in and through the B2B funnel.

Sam McCue
Inbound Marketing guru, avid fisherman, and all-around backcountry enthusiast.

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