Marketers, Is ABM the Solution to Your Broken Sales Lead Handoff?

The B2B lead handoff process is broken.

Marketers invest a ton of time and resources to acquire leads using a variety of tactics, from data acquisition to SEO to trade shows to paid ads. Additional money is invested in marketing automation and content marketing to cultivate and nurture individual leads until they’re deemed ready for sales, at which point the all-important “handoff” is completed.

…now what?

Too often, Marketing passes leads, one-by-one, over to Sales with hopeful confidence that their counterparts in sales will follow up on-time, repeatedly, and appropriately. Unfortunately, studies show that upwards of 80 percent of leads generated by marketing are neglected or never acted upon by a sales rep.

Passing individual leads is ineffective

In long and complex B2B deals, this process is just not working.

Sales teams lack guidance on how to effectively follow-up, what content or personalized message to send key contacts, and what may be going on with other buyers at target accounts. There’s often little-to-no visibility into why deals move slowly or stall completely after the handoff, and no way of identifying blockers that are hindering the momentum of an opportunity. This leads to trouble in predicting pipeline and lost revenue down the line.

These issues are not only annoying, they’re also expensive.

IDC reports that B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies has cost them upwards of 10% or more in revenue per year—or $100 million for a billion-dollar company.

Orchestration is key to account-based success

The only way for demand gen marketers to improve the velocity of long deal cycles is to operate in tandem with sales. No more blind handoffs. Marketing and Sales must work high-value target accounts together throughout long deal cycles with multiple stakeholders. This orchestration is critical.

TOPO defines orchestration as “the sequenced coordination of different activities, programs and campaigns across marketing, sales development, sales and customer success to drive engagement with multiple stakeholders in target accounts. Orchestration is key to a successful account-based strategy.”

Marketing Orchestration can guide the lead follow-up process by ensuring that outreach is on-time, frequent, and relevant to the individual and their account. It’s a blueprint for how to land and expand at high-value accounts at scale, and do it in a coordinated and measurable way with Sales.

Working accounts, not leads

Part of the core issue with traditional lead handoff is its limitation to individual leads, scored until they reach a certain threshold, then passed to sales. But, as B2B companies are seeing more complex sales cycles, with a diverse set of stakeholders and longer buying cycles, it’s not enough.

Lead scoring tells only part of the story – what one individual lead has done, whether downloading content from your website or visiting key pages (like pricing information.) Account Based Marketing tracks the activity of multiple individuals within target accounts, delivering a far more accurate view of what buying centers are doing across the full account.

Rather than passing individual Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) as customary in traditional sales and marketing lead handoff frameworks, marketing orchestration allows a demand generation team to engage entire accounts, and not just during acquisition stages. B2B marketers should identify Marketing Qualified Accounts (MQA) to sales, and continue to work with them after the “handoff” in an orchestrated way.

Doing so will provide visibility into key accounts, giving a Sales Development Rep and Account Executive the insight they need to take action that accelerates deals and opportunities. It allows both Marketing and Sales to focus follow-up efforts on the right members of the decision-makers in target accounts, and prioritize resources more accurately against the best opportunities.

According to TOPO, “the fastest path to launching orchestrated campaigns and driving strong results from them is to focus on marketing-sales development orchestration.”

When B2B organizations move their thinking away from individual lead handoffs to account orchestration, your team acts as a cohesive unit and you’ll reach new levels of growth.

Heidi Bullock
Heidi Bullock
Prior to joining Engagio, Bullock served nearly 5 years in marketing positions at Marketo, eventually becoming Group VP, Global Marketing following the company’s 2013 IPO. Bullock began her career as a product manager in the life sciences industry, after graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a degree in molecular biology and genetic engineering. Later, she earned a MBA at St. Mary’s College of California.

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