Episode 15: Why The Marketing Qualified Lead is Dead

Rob Barnhart
Sr. CX Strategist

Rob Barnhart is a Senior Customer Experience Strategist with 15+ years in marketing leadership roles. Rob has developed and driven strategies and processes for b2b software companies including one of the leading American multinational computer technology companies in the world.  Rob is focused on driving success in the Software as a Service world. Fundamentally changing the way we think about customer experience and simplifying the complex for our customers is driving real results. 

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Dan Harris: [00:00:28] Now onto today's program [00:00:30] I'm your host Dan Harris. And welcome back to another episode of minds on B2B. Thank you so much everyone for clicking subscribing sharing downloading and of course listening to our podcast. This is a weekly show dedicated to helping busy B2B executives marketers and sales professionals. Stay informed. Learn something new and perhaps apply a lesson learned or run with an idea shared by our guests.

Dan Harris: [00:00:56] As we say minds on all of our minds together are better [00:01:00] than any one mind alone who knows he just might like what you hear. Connect and network with us. Welcome back everybody. This is Dan Harris said minds on and we're on the minds on B2B podcasts today. I'm in the studio.

Dan Harris: [00:01:15] And joining us today is Rob Barnhart. So welcome welcome to show up. Dan thank you very much. I can't tell you how excited I am to be here. I know it's it's pretty exciting. Robyn I've worked together in large enterprises midsize enterprises agency [00:01:30] client relationship and I can tell you I've learned a tremendous amount from this gentleman and we've built a great friendship over time so I'm thrilled to have you on the show. So Rob is an experienced B2B marketer.

Dan Harris: [00:01:42] He's worked with hundreds of modern marketers over the years and his key focus is better aligning their lead and demand generation programs with the customer's buying cycle. And those are things that we're going to talk about today. And on top of that not only aligning to those but also aligning to the sales person's [00:02:00] ideal sailing process. So 15 years experience more than 20 years of market experience. He's super interested super passionate about what he does.

Dan Harris: [00:02:10] And we are going to jump in and talk a little bit about why does the MQL kill lead gen? Interesting topic ripe for a marketer. It is it is I mean it's something we talk about internally in our companies all the time. But for the audience why don't you tell me a little bit about what [00:02:30] is an MQL. So we set the stage and then also in your opinion over years experience what is lead gen?

Rob Barnhart: [00:02:36] That's right. Well and you know so for the last I would say you know really for the last 20 years is as marketing automation has proliferated and we've sort of gotten this idea or this this opportunity as marketers to add more measurable goals and more metrics to the things that we're doing.

Rob Barnhart: [00:02:53] One of the things that's come out of that that that movement has been this idea of the marketing qualified lead and and [00:03:00] really the marketing qualified lead is is all about our opportunity to find a way to measure marketing activity and we've done that through marketing automation softwares and different things that we did different processes that we've been able to pull together as a marketing organization and say that after a certain amount of engagement after after a customer is dead digitally engaged with a certain amount of content. You know we've met them at a certain amount of events that we can aggregate all of this activity that we can aggregate all of these things that [00:03:30] a prospect is done. And we've said we can we can measure that as a as a marketing qualified lead and and marketing this is great because now we can tell sales we're generating leads for you guys.

Dan Harris: [00:03:40] Yeah well not only sales but the executive team right they gave you money said go out and get leads. And now you can attribute the work that you've done based on this agreed upon measurement. That's right. Yeah. And I guess the thing for me is. how is how is this impacting organizations and sales [00:04:00] teams and leadership. Because I'm I'm seeing this tremendous surge in every single company I work with saying I need more leads. Any more leads. It's taking over everything.

Rob Barnhart: [00:04:12] That's right. That's right. And you can always follow the dollars. And so we we know traditionally sales has has been a high area of investment for an organization because you can tell exactly what kind of return you're getting on that sales organization and so for an executive to say we need more leads [00:04:30] and we've been hearing all of this this messaging and content about how marketing can generate and qualify leads and marketing can attribute all of the work that they're doing now though the executives who hold the money are saying OK well let's figure out where exactly we want to invest in that. And the most common way that they can attribute those investment dollars directly to the activity that sales is doing is to say let's throw a lot of money into legion and for them the Legion pieces is how many dollars am I going to spend [00:05:00] for how many leads I'm going to get. Right. Traditionally they haven't really worried about how qualified those leads are they don't really worry about where those leads are coming from. They're just saying let me spend a dollar and get 10 leads and let's call it a day let's give our sales people at bats and opportunities. Yeah.

Dan Harris: [00:05:19] Well it's funny I think you know prior to the show we drew some things on a whiteboard here just talked a little bit about it. But that approach is an internal focus right. So when you look at that internal focus can you [00:05:30] talk a little bit about how a company sees itself versus how a prospect sees us.

Rob Barnhart: [00:05:35] Absolutely absolutely so when we think about the way that we is as a brand when we think about the way that we is as really as marketers as salespeople sort of as this company as a whole we come into our office every day. We we we we do the work that we're doing to make the most of our company every single day so we sort of get this narcissistic view of ourselves where we're the center of the universe. And and it's just natural for [00:06:00] all of these people who are potential customers of ours to be interested in us because we're interested in us. The reality is especially as as Google is giving people more choices to to identify different things that can help them do whatever it is that they're trying to do from a business perspective we've started to identify this fact that the customer is actually the center of their universe that the prospect is the center of their universe and we're just sort of floating in the galaxy around them and whether they find us or not is really [00:06:30] up to them. And the minute that they they get onto their search engine the minute that they get onto Google and they start to type in that that keyword and they find a Web site that they want to click are a link that they want to click on. Their experience starts then and they don't know you from anybody else you know you perfectly. They don't really know you that well. So it's it's sort of an interesting shift in the way that we as a brand see ourselves against the way that the customer sees them. You know the way the customer sees us and our and our position [00:07:00] in the market.

Dan Harris: [00:07:00] Yeah. And I think it comes back to too there's a lot of competition in software space and in B2B and depending on the niche you're in. I mean that's thousands of opportunities for different companies to be in the market. I agree with you and I think one of the things as we talk about that sea of opportunity for that particular buyer. It's important to talk about the very beginning of that experience and I like this. I'd like to sell the story [00:07:30] you know if you're married you'll understand or if you're dating you'll all understand this as well is that you don't walk into a room and see a beautiful woman and walk up and propose to her right. It just doesn't happen. And I think that's what I think a lot of businesses think should happen by the leads by the list go this shows scan the badges. OK. Now they're qualified. Let's start selling to them. That's right. So I think that's important. So when we we talk about this idea of brand [00:08:00] and brand awareness can you talk a little bit about at that stage what needs to happen to be able to get to this point where you truly have enough information to be able to determine if someone is sisters. That's it. Yeah.

Rob Barnhart: [00:08:15] And so you know if you if you think about sort of this this idea of a linear buying process and let's just talk for now because there's a lot of different ways that a customer can become aware of of you and the things that you are potentially offering [00:08:30] to them as an opportunity and lets just think linearly about the digital buying process and this customer clicks on you from from Google the minute that they hit their your Web site they're starting to get a sense of what you are as an organization they're starting to get a sense of what their experience is going to be and a lot of a lot of marketers spend a lot of time and a lot of money Jenner or generating content and doing a lot of different things that this awareness stage to kind of give the customers this this great feeling about the organization and and [00:09:00] they've got a lot of thought leadership and there's infographics and there's all of this different content that that is driving that awareness of what exactly it is that we do as an organization now there's there's some companies out there where it's very difficult to even figure out what kind of a product that they sell or what kind of an experience that they're going to give you from the minute you hit their website all the way to those companies that it's very clear right from the minute that you get onto their site that this is something that you're going to have a great experience with you know exactly what you're going to get out of that right.

Rob Barnhart: [00:09:28] So that awareness piece [00:09:30] is where we as marketers start to say OK this person is either getting connected with us or they're not getting connected with us depending on the way that we generate that content. So that awareness piece that initial that initial experience that they have is your brand is so so critical but it's also important for us as marketers to be able to to start to gather that intelligence start to gain that information and start to figure out whether or not this person is continuing to to consume our content continuing to [00:10:00] nurture that digital experience with us on their own.

Dan Harris: [00:10:03] Yeah and it's a good point and I think the other thing too if you look at that sea of competitors they're probably doing that with others. That's right. So if you're I would assume if you're not doing some of the things on the brand building side investing in that creating this content that is creates this first impression and creates an experience it's super important. And then I think you know as you said as they get further down into that linear [00:10:30] process. You realize they have an opportunity right. And then the sales team has what they need to be able to. Complete the process or at least take him to the next phase. So when you think about what we've talked about from a marketing perspective up to that point where you have enough intelligence how important is it for. Marketing and sales to align around the experience. Yeah.

Rob Barnhart: [00:10:58] And I think that that that question [00:11:00] is central to what a lot of marketing and sales organizations are trying to figure out today. And it's part of the reason why I sort of think that this this whole concept of the MQM all of the marketing qualified lead in this measuring point between marketing and sales is created this artificial divide between the two parts of the organization that quite frankly doesn't need to exist. So marketing is putting a lot of time and a lot of effort into driving awareness and driving them to that next part of the buying cycle and and driving interest [00:11:30] and all of the different things that we create there. But that that in most organizations of that experience that a customer gets pre and well pre marketing qualified lead to when they actually get shifted over to a salesperson and the salesperson sort of picks up that that customer or that prospect and they start to have that conversation with them that experience sort of breaks down at that that MQL level because all of the work that marketing's done has been somewhat disjointed from all of the work that sales either assumes that they should be doing [00:12:00] or is doing. And it creates this this this disjointed experience for the customer at that marketing qualified lead stage where now they've got to get themselves reacclimated or reinvested in the same kind of an experience the same content the same the same thing that they've already been indoctrinated with with the cons with the content. Early in the buying process now they have to do that with the salesperson because that marketing conversation and that sales conversation in a lot of organizations are two totally [00:12:30] different things. And it's because marketing is really trying to drive those MQ wells and whatever happens afterwards that's on the sales team.

Dan Harris: [00:12:36] Yeah it's kind of going back to that analogy of your you know getting getting down on one knee when you first meet a person and asking them to marry them. It kind of goes back to marketing has to build up the awareness and understand what the opportunity is for that prospect. And that's kind of the NO AND LIKE phase right of the dating process. And as you go through that process the [00:13:00] handoff and I believe is this handoff where if marketing and sales aligned then that prospect has that trust level right. And they always say you know in sales it's all about relationships and they have to know like and trust you to do business with you. So when I look at this and we've had conversations back and forth I think that's so important to understand how this relates and how the teams need to work together to ask the questions of the client so they understand if they're ready to move forward. So [00:13:30] we're going to wrap up here but this I know we're going to have another conversation I really want to dig deeper into this. So for anyone listening if they're going through this process and how do they how would you tell them to communicate or what is the first thing that they could do to better understand this approach.

Rob Barnhart: [00:13:47] Yeah I think that that the. The key to this is really about bringing sales into this awareness cycle into this this. Content generation process early [00:14:00] as early in the customer's buying cycle as you possibly can so that we can start to create some of this consistency between what the customer hears. The very first time that they see you all the way to win they sign that contract and and I think in a lot of organizations right now the salesperson is kind of off selling and or the sales team is kind of all selling and the marketing team is kind of doing their thing and I think that that if we think if we rethink the MQ well and we make it a conversion of an experience then that means that the salesperson [00:14:30] and the sales team has to get involved very early in the content generation process so that the entire experience makes sense. Late in the process. Great.

Dan Harris: [00:14:40] Thank you. So now everybody you know why the MQL kills legend and hot. So thank you Rob for joining us on this show. And if someone wants to get a hold of you to learn more about you learn more about this idea. How did they do that.

Rob Barnhart: [00:14:56] They can. They can connect me on LinkedIn Rob Barnhart B.A. [00:15:00] r n h a r t. Sometimes people want to put the Dale Earnhardt on me and put a D in there but there's no D. So Rob Barnhart on link.

Dan Harris: [00:15:07] All right thank you Rob appreciate it. And until next time we're going to I think we're gonna dig deeper. What he say. It sounds great to me. All right.

Dan Harris: [00:15:15] Thank you everyone for joining us for this episode of minds on B2B. So here's where you come in if you have an idea for a possible episode episode topic and you'd like to be a guest on the show or you know someone that would be a great B2B teacher a guest on the show. [00:15:30] Make sure to connect with me on LinkedIn. You can find me by searching Danny Harris. You can also send me an email with the subject line minds on B2B idea or guest to Dan.Harris@mindson.com. That's. So and dot com because the more info we get from you the listeners and the more listeners that we have the better. This podcast is going to be. So make sure to subscribe to the show and i tunes or on your favorite podcast [00:16:00] player.

Dan Harris: [00:16:00] And until next time this is Dan Harris. Stay curious. Connect often and learn always.

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