*post originally appeared on Marketing Insider Group
Your Marketing team has worked tirelessly over the past quarter constructing what they believe to be a pivotal and influential report. This report will be the foundation for the coming quarter’s Content Marketing strategy and more importantly demonstrate Marketing’s commitment to the Sales organization to drive net-new leads via thought leadership. All is well in the world right? Yeah, ok.
The campaign kick-off goes swimmingly and the team has secured massive media adoption. Key influencers have latched-on to the report and your social channels are blowing-up with excitement. Prospects are downloading the report hand over fist.
Like lemmings marching over a cliff, prospects are jumping head-first into your lead gen funnel “Eurkeka…. we’ve done it!!” you say to your team.
Sales leadership has been handed the baton and are over the moon with excitement about this honeypot of net-new lead activity. Within moments of the first leads being delivered into their CRM, the Sales team starts calling the freshly budded accounts. What happens next will not surprise you:
- “The CIO isn’t answering the phone. He just downloaded the report, didn’t he?!”
- “I tried calling, left two voicemails, and sent follow-up demo email 4 minutes after they downloaded the report. NO RESPONSE. I don’t get it!”
- “None of these people are engaging with us. These leads are sh!t.”
That final comment is the proverbial nail in the coffin on the campaign and cause for much stress between the Marketing and Sales teams. As quickly as the wind was blowing at your back, the sails have now been deflated and are literally laying in the water. Your team is feeling like they just finished 3 rounds with Connor McGregor in the cage.
What Went Wrong?
Sales is looking at Marketing like they are on another planet, and Marketing is looking at Sales the same way the general public looks at overly aggressive Sales people, disgusted. It’s supposed to be simple, feed the engine with quality leads and Sales will book the business. That’s why they get to drink the coffee…they’re closers right? We had all systems go: massive reach, influential content, flood of net-new leads, diligent follow-up.
Unfortunately, Marketing’s probability of success went off the rails the moment the Sales team picked up the phone. Please pause and honestly ask yourself the following questions at a human-level:
- Can you open and read a 20 page report in 4 minutes?
- Do you lack distractions, meetings, and urgent fires on a daily basis?
- Do you have an abundance of free time to read/research in the middle of the day?
I know you answered “Hell No!” to every one of those questions.
Mind the Gap
Jumping on your prospects, especially those that have directly engaged with your long-form content, is a desperate move that lacks finesse. It wreaks of elementary thought and perhaps more damming, demonstrates a lack of respect for your prospect’s bandwidth and role within their organization. Congrats, your coveted prospect has been slapped upside the head.
The foundation of my position is the 2017 State of Information Technology: Content Consumption and Demand Report, which analyzes more than 8.5 million leads generated via content syndication over 2016, specifically examining the IT segment. A critical insight featured in the report is the Consumption Gap; the timespan between the content request and the moment the content is opened — measured in hours.
On average, the Consumption Gap for active IT professionals is more than twenty-four hours. Elevated further, the Consumption Gap of senior-level IT leadership averages more than thirty hours.
Insight: To make sure the prospect is informed enough to have an intelligent discussion, allow for at least 2 days before contacting.
Don’t Be a Caricature
Be human and be mindful of who your prospects really are. They are not idly waiting for your call and they don’t have unlimited bandwidth to immediately consume your content. Yes, they want to learn more about you…on their time. Give them a little space, send out a simple intro email and set their expectations that you’ll be in touch in a few days after they’ve had a moment to digest/absorb the content. Then and only then, proceed by listening to their perspective on the content. Engage with them to discover why they downloaded the asset in the first place. At this point, they’ve already begun to share their internal struggles/challenges. Help them address their issues and not only will you earn their business but you’ll also earn their respect.
Exhale. Allow them to inhale your content before preemptively jumping down their throat.