While at the Sales 2.0 Conference on Oct 30, 2007, I attended a panel presentation titled Lead Qualification & Cultivation. The complete transcripts are available at the Sales 2.0 portal, I have extracted Stu’s opening story to pair it with one of my own about iPod fishbowl leads.
Lead Qualification and Cultivation Panel
- Joan Babinski, VP of Marketing, Brainshark
- Kathleen Bruno, Vice President, Visible Path
- Jean Tali, Vice President Corporate Sales, Genius.com
Stu Silverman’s opening remarks:
So let me first start off by giving my definition of the old way [of lead generation]. So we’ve got a $40 million early stage venture-backed company, maybe 12 reps in the field, no inside sales group. And you’ve got a good marketing group and they’ve gone to a tradeshow and they have acquired 400 leads from that tradeshow. So some of those leads are good of course, some of those leads are not good of course.
And then there’s the hundred or so that came from the fishbowl where you were raffling off the iPod and hoping to get a number of good quality leads from the iPod fishbowl leads as I call them.
So let’s say you come back with these 400 leads and what usually happens? In many companies there’s no qualification of those leads and they’re given to the field sales force. And then we all kind of know what happens there. The field sales reps start to call a few of them, they hit or miss and they then feel that the leads are really crap and then they don’t follow up with them. They complain with them and there’s enormous amount of waste of money and time and really significantly a lot of frustration between sales and marketing. So that’s what my example of the old way is and believe me it’s still going on.
IPod Fishbowl Leads
I recently attended the Streaming Media West conference. Just like Stu described it, almost every booth was an early stage venture-backed company with approximately six reps in the field and no inside sales group. These booths had the exact same lead generation strategy, raffling off an iPod for business cards. Having made this mistake before, I can confidently assume that at the end of the show, the marketing team feels ecstatic because they have acquired hundreds of leads. Of course, some of those leads are good, but most of them are not. So now what?
Back at the office each rep is given a stack of cards to start the cold calling process. Having been there, done that, this usually results with frustrated sales reps because of the enormous amount of wasted time and money spent on dialing for dollars. This could have been avoided if the booth people were more concerned with qualifying “real leads” instead of collecting business cards.
At trade shows, its not just the number of leads but the quality of leads. It’s a chance to have a conversation with a prospect, which is more difficult if you are drawing folks who are only interested in the iPod. As Stu coins it, “its not what is inside your funnel but what is moving through your funnel.” Startups do not have the time or the budget to waste trying to filter through hundreds of business cards. Startups are much better served using show floor time to qualify a hand full of serious prospects instead of wasting time afterward eliminating the prize entries.