The ability to generate high quality leads is the most significant marketing challenge today – but sales and marketing teams are fiercely divided about where they can be found.
According to a new report - Optimal Lead Generation Methods - nearly half (49%) of all sales and marketing representatives agree that generating sufficient lead volume is their top marketing challenge. The next most pressing concerns are converting leads to customers (cited by 43%) and improving lead quality (39%).
At present, company websites are the most commonly adopted source to generate leads, with 83% of organisations using their sites to produce leads. Email is the second most commonly adopted (74%), while trade shows (62%) and blogs (53%) are also popular.
And while much noise has been made about the lead generation potential of social media, only one network features in the top five most popular lead generation methods. LinkedIn has eclipsed both Facebook and Twitter to be the third most popular lead generation approach overall, used by 69% of organisations.
In fact, LinkedIn’s stock continues to rise rapidly with sales and marketing professionals, with the study suggesting that respondents' opinions regarding LinkedIn's effectiveness in lead generation has jumped 28% in the last four years, perhaps reflecting the larger number of professional connections that users have compared to other networks, and therefore by extension of that, the more sales and marketing opportunities that are created.
Indeed, sales departments are keen for their organisations to put even greater emphasis on LinkedIn going forwards – an opinion that is not reflected by their marketing counterparts. In fact, overall the study – conducted by InsideSales.com - reveals there is a storm brewing between sales and marketing.
According to the research, while the sales department leans more towards adopting LinkedIn as a lead gen method, marketers are keen to put more emphasis on paid media and rich media.
The evidence suggests, however, that marketers may be right to be wary of LinkedIn, with its limited ability to generate pipeline not justifying its high adoption rate – the report concludes that its pipeline creation effectiveness is not as powerful as many other methods.
There are other areas of disagreement. Almost half (45%) of all survey respondents in marketing see more value in outdoor media than people in sales positions do. Meanwhile, people in sales positions saw sponsorships and Google+ as being more valuable.
Interestingly, the study indicates that both departments may be overlooking the best opportunity. According to the data, small executive events were identified as the best to generate quality leads, with 77% of respondents reporting it as effective. Webinars were the next most effective, cited by 73% of those surveyed.
Perhaps surprisingly, then, small executive events are fairly under-utilised, with only around a quarter of respondents currently using them.
"The conclusions of this study vigorously challenge conventional wisdom and bring enormous insight into what works and what doesn't when it comes to lead generation," said Ken Krogue, founder and president of InsideSales.com. "Clearly, it's time to rewrite the playbook and dedicate resources to looking at the methodologies sales organisations have in place to ensure they are operating effectively and able to generate tangible results."
About Neil Davey
Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.