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Marketing Leads: based on faulty assumptions?

Submitted by on Friday, 8 October 2010

From what I’ve read and conversations I’ve had with several industry leaders and a few marketing automation companies,  current marketing  and sales automation technology does not address the human, private, off-line side of the buying decision journey. And it’s been said that using marketing automation offers a competitive advantage, but can it be even more productive? I believe that one of the problems is the assumptions that marketers are making with the data they have amassed.

From what I understand, and I’m open to changing my mind if proven wrong, current technology does a good job influencing, capturing eyeballs, and following people’s on-site behaviors but – here is where the problem lie for me – it then makes faulty  assumptions as to what it all means leading to less-than-effective activity. The problem is that using the data they are collecting (and they are not collecting nearly enough, early enough), there is no way to actually know:

  1. what percentage of the Buying Decision Team is represented in the digital footprint;
  2. what weight the visitor has on the Buying Decision Team;
  3. who else the visitor is looking at;
  4. the role that the current provider and/or internal solution will have in providing a solution;
  5. how much of the site visit is collecting information to give to their current vendor, include on an RFP,or add on to their current solution or solution specs.

In other words, marketing folks are making faulty assumptions regarding the data they are collecting and passing these assumptions on.

REACHING FAULTY CONCLUSIONS

I recently read a study done about chairs: people sitting in soft, comfy chairs made more personal decisions; people sitting in straight backed, hard chairs, made more ‘rational’ decisions. The specious guess here was that the cause involved comfort. Actually, there is a physiologic cause: when we are ‘back’ from a situation (as you are when sitting upright in a hard, straight-backed chair), we are in our Witness brain and can assess the entire situation without referencing our emotional side. When we are ‘in’ a situation (sitting forward or slumped as you are when sitting in a soft, comfy chair),  we are in Self, and in our emotional side.

That’s a clear case where the people who did the study did not have access to the full range of possible choices and reached a faulty conclusion.

I believe the same thing is happening with our new marketing technology. Who, exactly, is making the guesses as to what is really going on with the site visitor? And what data are they using to make their assumptions? Where is their bias? What are they omitting? What are they not even considering?  Are they using the conventional wisdom in the field – the field that defines that a 7% closing ratio as “success”?

What would marketers need to believe differently to be willing to expand their assumptions or create new possibility, such as influence more eyeballs differently, expand the route of the buying decision journey, enter much earlier, or influence the direction of the decision team, and thereby get higher quality data?

WHY PERPETUATE FAILURE WHEN WITH NEW THINKING YOU CAN HAVE TRUE SUCCESS?

It’s time that the field  recognizes that until or unless it adds new thinking, and learns how to enter and serve the human side of the decisions that have little to do with a solution, need, or vendor choice, it will continue to perpetuate much smaller-than-possible close rates, a far-too-high percentage of push-back situations, and an inability to actually serve the buyer far, far earlier in their journey.

The marketing group is now responsible for quality leads and understanding ‘buying patterns‘. That means they have a greater responsibility to sellers to get the right names in front of them – leads that are truly relevant, and not just folks who are perusing a site or reading content. Or people who are just making their final solution choice.

It is possible for marketing automation to significantly enhance sales closing rates and stop wasting a seller’s time with quantity rather than quality leads. But they would have to make different assumptions and use additional methods to get there. Are they up for it?

It’s time for a real conversation around this. Because the conventional wisdom isn’t wise.

Thoughts?

sd

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  • http://twitter.com/freedman1 Bill Freedman

    These are really good points about the nature of selling and the limits of marketing automation.

    The lingo of statistics would call this “false positives” or a Type I error. The case where someone sends all the right signals but isn’t open to your solution. Unless my prospecting team is overwhelmed with leads, I’d think both sales and marketing pros alike would agree that anyone who sends buying signals is worthy of a next step.

    I’d want the team that is responsible for qualifying the potential buyer to enter the effort with optimism and a belief that the lead has potential. I also expect the person to make every effort to get the answers needed to justify investing more effort into winning the business.

    Should this level of qualification be done by a quota-carrying sales rep or a service-oriented marketing qualification team? A case could be made for either option which means its an area where sales and marketing leadership need to make a joint decision, implement a process and jointly measure effectiveness.

    Every marketing automation solution I’ve deployed and managed puts a stronger focus on the need for great sales skills in the organization. Great sales processes and sales execution begins with effective hand-offs of leads that precisely meet the minimum agreed-to criteria. It would be dangerous to ask marketing automation to blow past that line of agreement.

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  • http://sharondrewmorgen.com sharondrew

    Bill – you are still thinking in the ‘sales’ area. I’m focusing on the ‘change management/human – private buying decision journey’ that has absolutely nothing to do with a purchase or a solution but has everything to do with all of the criteria and buy-in necessary before a solution can be considered.

    do you not recognize that without the private journey buyers go through internally that a purchase can never happen – and that the sales model absolutely ignores this element? imagine if it were possible to enter the buyer’s decision journey earlier. it’s possible. but not with sales.

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