• 20,000 IT Leads Under the Sea

    After spending several years listening to IT buyers, the one thing I consistently hear is, “Engage me on my terms and on my turf.”  Unfortunately, today’s marketing/sales models are diametrically opposed to what these folks want from IT vendors.

    The Old Way of Selling

    Many marketing teams focus on generating leads for their sales teams and channel partners. Then they have to interrupt the IT buyer and force them into a linear lead generation system. In reality, a focus on generating volumes of leads costs vendors more in the long run.
    Based on our research, software companies spend $40,000-$75,000 for every 1,000 leads, whether from trade shows, whitepaper downloads or other activities.  The traditional numbers-focused sales and marketing model has fallen apart, especially when selling technology products to savvy technical folks. The old-school strategy of hiring more salespeople to cold-call hundreds of prospects is dead.

    Lead Generation Fallacy

    One of the major problems is that sales and marketing principles have changed. “If I need to double revenue growth, I need to double my sales force to drive it” or “I need to generate 1,000 leads to generate one sale. Therefore 2,000 leads will generate two sales.” This doesn’t make sense and management teams are confusing correlation and causality.  A vendor who believes in this may as well claim, “Christmas trees cause Christmas.”

    However, this will never change unless the sales and marketing execs stop demanding that marketing deliver on lead quotas. “We need 10,000 leads a quarter to hit our number” or “We promised 1,000 leads a quarter to X channel partner.”  Funny enough, I have never heard a CEO ask for leads. Ever!  He or she would rather have new customers or sales as opposed to loads of leads any day of the week.  Actual VP of Marketing quote, “I am not interested in talking about sales, I have a lead gen number to hit.”

    A New Way of Selling to the IT Buyer

    My recommendation is go where your buyers live, work and develop a demand generation program (not lead generation) where you engage potential customers throughout the decision-making process on their terms. Throw out the funnel and use a circle instead.

    You can’t “sell” to someone unless they are in the market or willing to consider buying a product or service like yours. So if you…

    • Understand word of mouth between peers is crucial
    • Position yourself as honest and authentic
    • Put some roots down for the short and long term
    • Get involved where your buyers spend time online/offline
    • Are in front of the prospect when they are ready to research, evaluate, ask peers, have questions and look for purchase advice

    …you will be the one that technology buyers turn to.

    The Disconnect between IT Marketers and Technology buyers: 

    Kenny Madden works in market development at Austin based Spiceworks, the fastest growing IT social business network. Kenny has spent his career helping accelerate sales of technology products at high growth companies including CA Technologies, Motive and AlterPoint. He can be reached at kenny@spiceworks.com.

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