Lead Gen And Sales Enablement: Building A Strategy For Success

Published: August 7, 2012

By Mari Anne Vanella, Founder & CEO, The Vanella Group, Inc. 

Companies run dozens of lead generation programs over the course of a year — in some cases, 50% of marketing budgets are spent on lead generation. Some of these campaigns generate a wealth of rich prospect data; others produce simple lists of names and contact info.

Here are some interesting trends that I have seen in lead generation over the past five years:

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  • Most companies now use CRM to deliver and manage leads;
  • The growing use of marketing automation contributes greater intelligence to prospect information;
  • The effectiveness of live lead coverage and follow-up efforts has lagged behind the adoption of sales enablement technology.

The last mile of lead management — actually picking up the phone and calling your prospect — is increasing, but at a disproportionately lower rate. Research done by organizations such as SiriusDecisions, Marketing Sherpa, CSO Insights and The Aberdeen Group show that lead followup is still a challenge for sales teams.

Why is this happening? I will discuss some reasons here, and suggest ways to help narrow the delta between lead generation and lead coverage:

The Biggest Problem: Defining A “Lead” — A name is not a “lead” to the sales team. This is a point of contention between sales and marketing organizations, since marketing will import a list of “leads,” and the sales rep gets names with no other information. The word “lead” is also used to describe everything from a buyer with a definite budget requesting detailed pricing information to people who scan their badges at your booth to get a free stress ball. What Marketing Can Do: Put some different nomenclature in place for prospects and leads. Even putting them into categories — leads, opportunities, registrations, prospect lists, etc. — can make a big difference.

Leads With Limited Information — Some lead generation campaigns generate a lot of names with little else to accompany them. A lot of these come from downloads, webinar registrations and tradeshow lists. In some cases, these lists are loaded into the CRM system and assigned to territory reps who don’t know anything about them or why they are there. These are really cold calls for the rep — which is why many of them don’t get called. What Marketing Can Do:  By providing a “campaign backgrounder” (see below) marketing can help sales reps understand the sources of these leads and initiate effective discussions with them.

Setting Up Programs For Success — There is often a lot of “white space” between the campaign and when the leads actually make it to the sales reps. By the time the leads are delivered, the marketing team has moved on to other things, and the sales reps are left with a lot of open questions. What Marketing Can Do:  Communicate regularly with the sales team to let them know what campaigns are happening. This will help the reps engage with prospects more effectively. Don’t assume that the reps know where to find this information — or that they keep track of your marketing activities.

Provide Guidance For Discussions — Campaigns are generally built around a particular topic, or they focus on drawing in a certain type of prospect. The topic might be a pain point in an organization, an industry trend or challenges in functional areas of the business. Creating an easy “talk track” for reps that mesh with these campaign topics will help them open up their discussions with prospects.

How To Create A Campaign Backgrounder

An easy formula to follow is to create a one-page template that goes out to the sales team as your campaigns start generating leads. Timing is important; send it out when leads are just hitting the system, not three weeks ahead of an event or campaign. (There’s too much going on in between, and the data will be forgotten.)

The page should contain:

  • Date of the event or campaign;
  • Topic or theme of the campaign;
  • The target audience (such as new or existing customers);
  • Why the campaign is interesting;  
  • What did the prospect receive or respond to;
  • Scenarios or pain points that prospects might be dealing with.


Implementing these communication tactics will address many of the most common challenges facing your sales and marketing teams. You’ll get better follow-up rates, retain more leads in your pipeline, build better communication channels, provide context for your marketing campaigns, and create a simple but systematic way to keep your sales team better informed.

Mari Anne’s firm, The Vanella Group, Inc. has served the B2B technology community with teleservices-based lead generation services for over 12 years. Her client list includes Hitachi, SAP and many others. Mari Anne is an accomplished speaker, author and thought leader in the sales and marketing domain.  Her blog, Insights into Cold Calling, features content for today’s enterprise sales teams.  She has been listed on 20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management in 2011 and 2012.

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