Terry Flaherty, VP, Principal Analyst and Mike Pregler, VP, Research Director

Show Notes:

In many marketing and sales departments, the process for nurturing potential buyers goes like this: Someone downloads a report or whitepaper, then starts receiving more marketing content; once the person has read a few more materials, their contact details are passed along to the sales team. The sales team then tries to nudge these prospects toward a purchase.

This familiar process is broken, argue VP, Principal Analyst Terry Flaherty and VP, Research Director Mike Pregler. On this week’s What It Means, they discuss how marketing and sales leaders can work together more effectively.

The problem with so-called “marketing-qualified leads,” says Flaherty, is that they often lack context. Contact information may be passed to sales teams without details such as whether others in the company are also looking for the same product, which would indicate a higher likelihood of ultimately buying. Sales teams might put off following up on these leads, choosing to focus on closing deals they’re already working instead.


The process persists despite abysmally low success rates (fewer than 1% of individual leads actually end up buying) because of habit. “[Marketers] have been telling our executives, our board for the past 15, 20 years that we produced 1,000 MQLs a month,” says Flaherty. “We need to break that cultural addiction.” Sales reps, Pregler adds, may be reluctant to let go because leads are easy to track and measure.

The analysts describe what’s needed for a better approach, one that centers on groups of buyers in a target company instead of individual buyers. The technology for tracking buying groups exists, but to succeed with it, marketing and sales teams may need to revisit how they work together and establish clear roles and responsibilities.

Listen to the full episode to learn concrete steps that B2B marketing and sales leaders can take to improve their organizations’ effectiveness.