We had the opportunity to sit down with Brian Carroll (@brianjcarroll) and discuss lead generation, customer experience and empathetic marketing. Brian Carroll. As the founder of the B2B Lead Blog, a researcher and lecturer on marketing best practices, and leader in empathy marketing, he’s at the epicenter of the shifting B2B marketing landscape. Brian is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale (McGraw-Hill). He is also the founder of the B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group .
Brian recently finished a stint as Chief Evangelist at MECLABS (parent company of MarketingSherpa) and is now back to helping B2B understand and execute modern lead generation and empathetic marketing.
Thank you to Brian for taking the time to speak with us!
VisumCx: It has been over a decade since you wrote Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. What changes have you seen in how B2B buyers buy over the last ten years?
Carroll: I think at its core, B2B lead generation is really about relationships. But since I wrote my book, I think is the way people are buying has changed a lot.
If you look at statistics like 64% of adults, have smartphones for example, which has changed how we get information. I remember 10 years ago, people just had BlackBerries. Now, everybody has something it seems. And so our personal life and business life have become enmeshed. And what I have observed is B2B buyers are buying a lot like consumers because our lives are entangled.
Another thing that’s changed as well is social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Back when I wrote my book those things really hadn’t taken off to the degree they have now so that’s changed in that we are always on and always connected. Social media has become the new employee smoke break.
Still, there are still some things that stayed the same but those are the biggest change is that I have seen.
As I said, I think at its core, lead generation is really about relationships. The fundamental idea is around being able to identify the right people and the right companies and having a way of initiating crucial conversations and then to nurture that dialogue that you started regardless if they are starting to buy with these people – instead of leads, thinking of them as future customers. This is now called account based marketing.
If I were to rewrite my book 75% of it probably is would remain unchanged because what I wrote I consider bedrock principles regarding connecting at a human level.
VisumCx: There is no doubt that aligning lead generation to buyers is critical. But where do you see the buying process within the context of customer experience?
Carroll: Back when I was with MECLABS, MarketingSherpa, our sister company, did research and found over 72% of the marketers we surveyed send leads directly to sales without qualifying them. So that was one of the things we looked at and one of the biggest reasons why 80% of leads are being lost or ignored when Marketing hands them to Sales as so-called qualified marketing leads.
How you sell and market tells customers how you serve them and that’s a huge part of customer experience.
There’s been a lot of talk about customer experience over the past year. Marketers are starting to recognize that we needed to move beyond marketing automation, content marketing, and predictive analytics i.e. stop focusing on tactics only. Marketers need to better understand what motivates our customers an throughout their buying journey.
Not only that, marketers need to focus on the broader customer experience.
So instead of just talking about being relevant, or creating more content, marketers need to focus on understanding and improving the whole customer experience. Overall, I think a lot of money is being spent on content, martech, and predictive data tools. Now marketers need to focus on making those investments deliver by interpreting behavioral data, understanding what individuals really want, what they are saying, how they are feeling, and how they are responding to our messages. This will allow us to engage our customers in a more intelligent, personalized way to help improve the customer experience.