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Getting Better Leads

An Interview with Bob Alvin, CEO

At many companies, lead generation is a sore spot between Sales and Marketing. Sales complains it's either not getting enough leads or not getting the right leads. Marketing is cranking up the lead gen engine but doesn't want to invest more time, energy and money producing leads that Sales won't use. And pressure to produce measurable results continues to increase. Here with some tips and trends is NetLine CEO and Chairman Robert Alvin, an expert in lead generation for the high tech market.

Marketing2IT: How can Marketing get Sales to love their leads?

Bob Alvin: The main factor for any type of lead generation is putting together a compelling offer, compelling enough for the right person to take action. In addition to making an offer to the right audience, you need to trigger the audience you're looking for. The next most important thing is to qualify your leads. You need to rate them and identify the ones that Sales will pick up the phone and call immediately. But it's wasted money if Sales only uses the top ten percent of these leads. It's Marketing's responsibility to nurture the remaining ninety percent. Lead nurturing is very important. It's building a relationship with people who are the right demographics but just aren't qualified at the time. Marketing is responsible for the B and C leads, Sales is responsible for the As. You should only give Sales the As.

Marketing2IT: How should marketers nurture leads?

Bob: Keep track of what your prospects are doing and what your communications have been with them in a marketing management database. Keep a history with them, track which white papers they downloaded, which webinar they registered for, which offer they responded to, etc. This helps Marketing justify itself and the expense of marketing campaigns. Nowadays there's a greater requirement for accountability, with measurable results. You need to have numbers to prove your success – a high level ROI that includes what you are paying for your leads and how many converted.

M2IT: What are three key elements of a successful relationship with Sales?

Bob: Communication, communication, communication. If communication doesn't happen well you won't be successful.

  1. Marketing needs to communicate to Sales the What, Who, and Where of each campaign - what they're promoting, to whom and using what vehicles so Sales knows where the leads are coming from.
  2. Sales needs to communicate to Marketing what they're hearing in the field and give feedback on the quality of the leads. Take Sales' feedback and integrate it into the database. For example, "I thought it was an A lead but it turns out they weren't ready to buy at this time."
  3. Sales and Marketing need to get together on a regular basis to discuss strategy and what they need. Usually, both sides are pushing their own agendas but each needs to agree on what you're going to do. And a little face time goes a long way.
M2IT: What's the secret to using search engines to generate leads?

Bob: Search engine marketing works for some companies and not for others. It depends on the desired traffic and your industry. With pay-per-click you need to come up with key words that will drive the desired traffic and it's not as easy as you might think. Not everyone is skilled at choosing key words. And it's tougher for B2B since search engines mix B2B and B2C results. People who have found the right key words have been very successful. Another problem is getting the proper volume. It's challenging to choose terms that aren't too general. At the same time, the right key words can be too specific. They might be the correct terms but they're so specific you won't get results.

M2IT: What is a critical success factor for advertisers integrating online into the communication mix?

Bob: It's imperative to measure results, to hone in on what works and kill what's not. To integrate online channels into the communication mix successfully, take it in steps. Offline marketing – print, direct mail, etc. – is traditional, people know what they're doing. As they move toward including more online, they need to be sure that measurement is part of the program.

About Robert Alvin
Bob Alvin has more than 20 years of technical expertise and high-tech management experience. He started NetLine in 1994 as an online registration service for trade magazines. His company has grown into a premier lead generation and online marketing services company for B2B advertisers and marketers, primarily for the high tech industry. NetLine helps high tech marketers acquire, nurture and convert high quality leads and retain and upsell to customers. Bob has an M.S. in Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University and a B.S. with honors in Electrical Engineering from the University of South Florida.