There is an age-old marketing question – Is it better to have quality or quantity when it comes to leads? Like many, I believed the answer was you needed a balance, but over the years I have realized the folly of that approach. I’m now firmly in the Quantity camp.
You’re probably thinking – Colin, you’re a marketer, of course you’d say “quantity” – that’s what marketers care about. Leads are easier to generate when you don’t care if they are good or not. Plus it’s far easier to measure quantity vs quality. Trust me when I say, I’ve had many sales leaders and executives say this to me. And in every instance, they were wrong.
It’s not about leads at all. It’s about revenue.
Leads are just a surrogate measure for what is truly valuable – $dollars. That’s why Marketing and Sales do what we do. We want to generate revenue for the company. Period. End of story. The difference is how each team goes about achieving that goal.
Leads for Marketing. Relationships for Sales.
Let’s be honest, most executives and Sales leaders judge the effectiveness of Marketing departments by the leads they generate (enlightened leaders also measure the department on “revenue influenced”, but that’s a whole article unto itself). For companies, more leads = more success.
In contrast, Sales is all about relationships – having numerous, strong relationships translates into more sales opportunities. Some of those relationships are formed via marketing. Others are from networking. The key is converting as many relationships into revenue as possible. As a former salesperson, I realize this is a bit of an oversimplification of the hard work that salespeople have to put in, but I truly believe sales is about relationships.
This contrast in approaches is one of the primary causes of friction when it comes to lead generation. Sales is happier with a smaller number of high-quality, high-yielding relationships whereas Marketing is happier with lots of contacts and leads that they can sift through.
The Reality of Modern Marketing
Back in the days of cold-calling and tracking prospects with spreadsheets, the argument could be made that quality of lead counted as much (if not more than) quantity. It was possible, in those days, to overwhelm a sales team. No sales leader in their right mind would want their team to call 1,000 questionable leads only to uncover the 50-100 that were sales ready.
Overwhelming a sales team is a ludicrous notion today.
Today we have Marketing Automation tools and CRMs which makes sifting through leads much easier and cheaper. You no longer need an army of inside salespeople to call leads that Marketing generates. Now you just put all the early-stage leads into a nurture funnel and a steady stream of content does the job for you. 1,000 Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) yields the same 50-100 Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) …it just takes a little more time.
With modern marketing technology and techniques, you want as many leads going into your funnel as you can. The marginal cost to nurture an additional lead is nominal. So go for as many as you can and let your automation sort them out for you.
Focusing on Quality Makes You Late to the Party
Ask any marketer or salesperson to define a high-quality lead and you’re likely to get something like the following:
- Is ready to make a purchase in the next 3-6 months
- Has budget to purchase our product/service
- Has the political power to make a purchasing decision
- Recognizes they need the solution we provide
This criteria ignores one big factor – the buyer journey. If a healthcare provider has the budget available and is ready to make a purchase in the next 3-6 months, chances are, they have been talking with your competitor for the past 12-18 months.
It is rare that provider organizations set aside budget for new technology/clinical solutions without getting a quote from a vendor first. So, if you find someone in healthcare who is already THAT CLOSE to making a purchase, you are likely to be late to the party. Someone else has been building a relationship with that buyer.
It is a similar argument when looking at criteria #4. Think about it. If a target customer already recognizes they need a solution like yours, that means they have already been reading about your solution category. They’ve already done their research and know what they need/want. If this is the first time you are becoming aware of this lead, you are already behind the eight-ball – they have likely been reading materials from your competitor.
Feed and Trust Your Marketing Funnel
The quantity-first approach I am suggesting for lead generation is predicated on the assumption that you have a robust program to nurture leads that includes educational materials, whitepapers, case studies, etc. If you have that, then you need to trust that your funnel will identify potential buyers based on the activities they take within your program.
Pour as many healthcare leads into that funnel as you can.
Where do you get those leads? Look for an upcoming article on that topic, but here are some great ways to generate healthcare leads:
- LinkedIn searches
- Conference speaker lists
- Whitepaper downloads
- Surveys (with a partner or third party)
- Webinars (although there are so many nowadays)
One source of leads that I do not recommend – buying a list. There are many shady organizations out there who claim to have a list of “healthcare buyers” or conference attendees. Funny story, as the organizers of the annual HITMC conference, we regularly receive emails offering to sell us the attendee list for our own conference! There are only two companies I trust when it comes to healthcare contacts: IQVIA and Definitive.
Keep Sales & Executives Informed
No matter what strategy you ultimately use for your lead generation, you MUST communicate it clearly with Sales and executive leaders. Lead generation should never be a black box. Be transparent and be ready to listen to constructive feedback.
After all, everyone has the same goal – generating revenue.