If you want to start a buying cycle where none exists already, it is necessary to get mindshare. With decision makers, as suggested in previous chapters, this will not usually be accomplished by leading with your offerings. What we suggest, instead, is leading with business issues to generate curiosity and interest. Leading with business issues offers organizations the benefit of higher entry points into prospect organizations, leading to shorter sales cycles and quicker access to mainstream-market buyers because the buyers are now being shown product usage or potential results rather than starting with your offerings.
Which issues? Well, let’s revisit the Targeted Conversations List—containing a menu of goals by offering, vertical industry, and title—that we created in the previous chapter. Using that tool, we would now like to offer a definition of a lead that Sales and Marketing can agree on, because the three components of a lead are the same as the Targeted Conversations List:
Title (or function)
Business goal identified
In our model, an organization (or salesperson) cannot begin selling until a Targeted Conversation buyer expresses a goal that can be achieved or a problem that can be addressed with an offering. When that happens, you have a legitimate lead that Sales and Marketing can agree is qualified. For companies with no standard definition for a lead, how meaningful is the process of tracking close rates?
We’d now like to discuss the various avenues that most marketing groups currently use in an attempt to generate interest—brochures and collateral, trade shows, seminars, Web sites, and so on—and how these approaches can be improved (by leading with either business goals or business problems) or replaced.