Determine which metrics to measure leads throughout sales cycle

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Mac McIntosh is president and principal consultant of b-to-b lead-generation consulting company Mac McIntosh Inc. as well as a founding partner of marketing automation services company AquireB2B. BtoB recently spoke with him about some significant trends in lead generation.

BtoB: In light of a still-slackening economy, what are the key metrics you are using right now to improve the success of b-to-b lead generation?

McIntosh: Measuring inquiries or responses; marketing-qualified leads; sales-accepted leads; sales-qualified leads; closed sales and lost sales. And what I'm looking at in each of those [categories] is the number—the percentage of improvement from before or from the previous step (e.g., inquiries to marketing qualified leads)—the dollars and the trend up or down. Some numbers should be as close to 100% as possible, such as nearly 100% of the number of marketing-qualified leads should become sales- accepted leads, which means the marketer is properly qualifying the [individual] lead.

BtoB: Is trying to demonstrate ROI from all marketing channels a misguided approach because it doesn't account for branding or awareness?

McIntosh: If the channel is being used for lead generation, it needs to be measured, but it may be a weighted measure. For example, you may determine that trade shows are 50% branding and 50% lead generation. If you're focusing on lead generation, you should focus first on generating leads from the right prospects and let the brand be part of that communication rather than doing branding as a separate function. Branding is part of the process, but shouldn't be standalone. There are situations when branding alone is important but, from a lead-gen perspective, branding is one of the ingredients.

BtoB:Do b-to-b marketers need to take more ownership of actual dollar amounts in order to truly improve their analytics?

McIntosh: Marketers who are accountable for sales and ROI get bigger budgets, raises, more promotions and more staff. Marketers shouldn't be afraid of having their lead programs measured by sales results, they should embrace it. —M.S.

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