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How Unqualified Leads Bog Down Sales Pipelines for Industrial Companies

I have yet to come across a manufacturer, a distributor or an engineering firm that didn’t ask for more leads. No surprise there!

The more I probe, the clearer it becomes what they really want are more requests for quotes or proposals. This is understandable since the sales pipeline needs to be full and active at all times because of the long sales cycles that’s typical for industrial companies.

However, this singular focus is causing a lot of frustrations because not enough leads generated by marketing are converting into sales opportunities. If you haven’t already heard or read about this problem, here are two stats that will make you sit up and think.

  • 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. (Source: MarketingSherpa)

I can cite many reasons for this disconnect. Based on my experience as an industrial marketing consultant working with clients, the root of the problem is the lack of understanding and/or spending enough time to understand the differences between Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Sales Accepted Leads (SALs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). As a result, Sales continues to blame Marketing for generating “crappy” leads that never turn into sales.

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Better Industrial Marketing Doesn’t Mean More Technology

Marketing Automation vendors have done a great job of spreading the message about the benefits of technology in marketing. Industrial companies are paying attention. I’ve been asked several times about using Marketing Automation (MA) in industrial marketing. I should be excited and jumping up and down with joy, right? Not so fast! Why do I say that?

Unless you get your marketing house in order first, technology alone isn’t going to solve all your industrial lead generation problems. A popular quote by Bill Gates sums it up nicely. He said, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

How Marketing Automation Works

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Industrial Marketers Face ROI Challenges

Developing a good digital marketing strategy and then executing it is complex enough but measuring ROI is proving to be a bigger challenge for marketers within manufacturing and industrial companies.

Thirty-one percent of industrial marketing professionals stated that measuring ROI is the biggest challenge in their profession. That is one of the findings from IHS/GlobalSpec’s 2013 Trends in Industrial Marketing report.

Measuring ROI of industrial marketing is a challenge

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Take Industrial Lead Generation up a Notch with Marketing Automation

Marketing automation technology is one of the areas where B2B marketers will increase spending in 2014 according to an article I read in the September 16 issue of BtoB Magazine. There are many more choices available today in Marketing Automation (MA) offerings and one can find the right fit at various price points. This post is not a product review or a comparison of different marketing automation packages. You’ll find plenty of such articles online written by vendors and independent marketing consultants. You can visit sites of different MA vendors and get the laundry list of all the features they offer.

I’ll stick to my area of expertise – industrial marketing and the use of MA in this specific niche. I have used HubSpot for about four years for two different clients and am now using Pardot for another manufacturer. I want to zero in on two key benefits of using MA for improving industrial lead generation and conversions.

  1. Prospect Profiling
  2. ROI Measurement and Reporting

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Marketing Automation Alone Can’t Deliver ROI for Industrial Companies

Let me start by saying that I’m a big believer of Marketing Automation (MA) and have seen it produce incredible marketing ROI for some manufacturers and industrial companies.

Then why does the headline of this post make me sound like a skeptic? That’s because it’s a case of good news, bad news.

First, the good news, MA does make the entire process of converting Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) into Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) very efficient and measurable. It produces amazing results when implemented and managed correctly.

This infographic from Pardot (A SalesForce Company) shows the real results automation users are seeing, descriptions of how automation is transforming companies, and staggering growth statistics.

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Are Industrial Companies Wasting Their Leads?

No matter the size of the company or the industry they are in, my conversations always boil down to them wanting more leads from their industrial marketing. Yet I see very few of these companies with a lead nurturing strategy in place to convert leads into sales opportunities. As a result, online leads sit untouched or go without a response for weeks if not months.

Often I see marketing people from manufacturing and industrial companies hand off leads to sales with little to no qualifying. This only causes more frustrations and reinforces the long-standing belief by sales that “Marketing generates crappy leads.”

It is important to understand the differences between a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). (See my post, “SAL is the Glue that Binds Sales and Marketing in Lead Generation.”)

Here are some eye-opening statistics from a study done by MarketingSherpa:

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What You Ought to Know About Inbound Marketing

Confused about Inbound Marketing? Never heard of it? View this hilarious and entertaining video from HubSpot and it will tell you everything you ought to know about inbound marketing.

[youtube width=”480″ height=”360″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-lGe5MnBlY[/youtube]

In the past I’ve written about manufacturers such as Indium Corporation and Miller Electric Manufacturing Co. and their success stories of inbound marketing with content. However, overall adoption rate of Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation (MA) is still low among smaller manufacturers and industrial companies. This is slowly changing and I am finding many of these companies are now more willing to listen to me talk about it.

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Industrial Blogs for Lead Generation Using Inbound Marketing

If you are an industrial or a manufacturing marketer, you know all about the constant pressure of generating high-quality sales leads. Upper management asking you to fill the pipeline with ever-shrinking budgets is a given these days.

There are three key ideas in the headline of my post – 1) Industrial blogs, 2) Lead generation and 3) Inbound marketing. In this post I’ll talk about how the three work together nicely in industrial and manufacturing marketing.

Various studies and my own experiences with industrial clients show that filling the top of the lead-gen funnel is still the number one goal.

A study of over 1,400 small and mid-sized businesses found that marketers with blogs generated 67% more leads. (Source: HubSpot).

Industrial marketers who don’t use a blog are missing a key component of feeding the top of their sales funnels. The single biggest benefit of blogging that I know of is getting found early and often when engineers and industrial professionals are researching solutions using search engines.

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5 Most Popular Industrial Marketing Blog Posts from 2010

We’re almost at the end of the year and you made it. Congratulations!

2010 has been another tough year for the industrial sector but I’m encouraged by all the good news that I’ve heard throughout the year about a modest rebound in U.S. manufacturing.

This is the time of the year when most of us tend to reflect upon the year that is coming to an end and look forward to the coming year with renewed hope.

December is also a popular time for bands and musicians to release their “Best of” compilations, bloggers like to summarize their best posts and publishers publish their own “Top XX” lists.

In keeping with that spirit, here are my five most popular industrial marketing blog posts from 2010. I’ve compiled these based on a combination of the traffic, time spent on the page etc. from my Google Analytics, the number of inbound links received, retweets and other social sharing.

I hope you’ll get some value and practical help from reading or rereading these articles.

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