James W. Obermayer is president of Sales Leakage Consulting, and co-author of "Managing Sales Leads"(Texere, 2007). BtoB recently asked Obermayer about trends in lead management.
BtoB: The Web is today's main b2b shopping engine. How can marketers use this tool to enhance lead management?
Obermayer: They must have the courage to ask for the visitor's full name and address, and maybe four profile questions in the "contact us" section of the Web site. After all, how can you address a person's needs if you don't clarify why he's contacting you? You can qualify about 65% of all inquiries this way, and the ones without intent to buy will skip the questions.
BtoB: Are you saying marketers lack the courage to ask qualifying questions?
Obermayer: Often yes, because they're afraid of offending people, to ask profile questions or ask sales about their results from the leads given to them. But when you become director of marketing, you should have the chutzpah to ask those questions. Remember, if somebody wants something from you, you have every right to ask something from them.
BtoB: With the current focus on the Web, what about traditional methods of qualifying prospects?
Obermayer: Along with profiling questions on Web contact pages and landing sites, marketers also can benefit from traditional business reply cards in direct mail, which have the space to ask questions and which will generate 15% or 20% more prospects.
BtoB: Many b2b companies have an extensive lineup of resellers. How do you get feedback on leads from these folks?
Obermayer: That's one of the big holes in inquiry management. Companies like AdTrack and BlueRoads have made an effort to make a round-trip system here and will allow a company to pull leads back from its resellers if they don't report on their results. With the ease of this automation, you can get 65% or 70% cooperation from salespeople on what's going on with your inquiries. I know some companies that have up to 90% compliance in reseller reporting. It's a beautiful thing.
BtoB: So you ask the questions, record the results, pass them to salespeople and find out what happened. What's next?
Obermayer: You get your marketing ROI. If marketers can "dollarize" the results of their programs, they can become heroes in their companies.