Lead Generation: Shouldn’t B2B companies have a sales and marketing research and development lab?


Every day I hear a of some new-fangled thing that makes my head spin with all the implications. At MarketingSherpa B2B Summit in San Francisco, the attendees were electrified with technology-inspired buzz in spite of this terrible economy.

It reminded me of the time just before the tech bubble burst in the late ‘90s when everyone was giddy over the possibilities of the Internet. Only this time, the wild enthusiasm is tempered with the pragmatism and worry about the state of our economy. And no doubt some of us gray hairs remember the foolishness of the bubble from the ‘90s (well, and maybe even our own more recent home-buying exuberance).

I’m not sure if JigSaw or the Apple iPad is creating more buzz in the business world. I wrote about the coming JigSaw tidal wave a few weeks ago, so let me share my thoughts on Apple fever this week.

Elegant simplicity

For me, the Apple story started way back in 1989 when I used my first Mac. I was one of those crazy early adopters who had bought what was once known as a “portable” computer (more like a luggable).  It came with the thrilling Microsoft DOS C:\ prompt.

In about two minutes on the MAC, I realized that the Apple was about 45 years ahead of the PC. I couldn’t understand how such an obviously better product got annihilated by the Microsoft Borg.

But Apple never lost faith. It stuck to its value prop: elegant simplicity. The iPod, the iPhone, and now the new killer business app, the iPad.

Google used the same playbook.

So you’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with B2B lead generation. Well, lead generation is about as complex as our DNA.

Mind-boggling complexity

Eloqua, Omniture, salesforce.com, and a million other companies are offering us the promise of not only accommodating that complexity…but actually adding to it.

Elegant lead scoring models based upon nuanced behavioral extrapolations, intuitive and scalable nurturing streams, automated and invisible data hygiene, intricate funnel metric dashboards, and on and on.

I love it all. But maybe we should hit the pause button.

Let’s be honest. No one has figured this out yet. So maybe what we should do is start with the simplest design and then measure and improve it and iterate toward complexity and scale.

Choose one solution, one market segment, a small group of sales people, that sort of thing. Teeny tiny. Design rich, but operations poor.

Apple does this everyday. It’s called an R&D lab. They build prototypes and work hard to make things super simple.

Maybe what we need then is a sales and marketing R&D lab. We could go there to try the latest gizmos in a tightly controlled environment and make sure everything works before looking to scale. The output of the lab would be a playbook, ideally one as simple as the iPad, and as irrefutable.

Related resources

MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Summit ’10, Boston – October 25-26

B2B Marketing Summit San Francisco Wrap-up Webinar: Quick takeaways distilled from 211 marketers on lead nurturing, social media marketing, and more – November 4

B2B Marketing Summit ’10 San Francisco Wrap-up Article: Seven takeaways to help you engage potential customers, generate high-quality leads and more

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  1. Lead answer says

    After reading your research in the sales area, i guess they really have a lab in which they can simulate the difficulties by examining them ,so get the better result.

  2. Lisa miller says

    I think having a lab is necessary much as it will drive cost up, still believe its a good thing to do because to get more insight into what organizations are doing.I think conduct a research on B2B requirements, expectations, needs and views makes the work much more customer focused and drive sales up.

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