When generating more leads is not the answer

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Marketing exists to generate leads. Sales teams need leads to survive. And businesses of all kinds — including not-for-profit organizations — live and die along with the quality and quantity of leads they generate and convert into customers, members, or clients.

But let’s dive a bit deeper. Let’s look a little closer. Yes, leads are the lifeblood of any organization. But generating more and more leads without assessing and improving the processes a lead encounters within the funnel is a recipe for failure.

It comes down to this: Generating more leads is not a cure-all. It’s really about the quality of the leads generated rather than the quantity, and it’s about having the right sales processes in place to nurture and convert leads ready to choose a product, service, or membership benefit program.

Let’s look at two common lead generation issues we come across all the time when helping clients refine their lead generation and sales processes.

Lead Trap #1: Enter the “Plate Lickers”

Your company wants to do a Lunch and Learn. Your team rents an exciting, locally known venue and schedules the catering. Your product demo team prepares their presentation and rents the required equipment. Marketing creates the event workflow, carefully setting the email cadence, building a splash page with a registration form, and puts the lead generation efforts in motion.

Emails go out. Social media posts are scheduled. Ads are placed online. The whole deal.

And boom! After the first email invite three weeks prior to the event, you have 50 registrants. Ten more “leads” trickle in over the next week, filling your event space to capacity.

Your marketing and sales teams are ecstatic and there are high fives galore.

Then the event occurs.

The audience is a bit smaller due to natural attrition. But something else seems off — attendees are not engaged in the demo, many in the audience don’t seem to fit your customer persona profiles, and some refuse to fill out surveys or provide more information. After the catered meal is served, a third of the audience leaves.

After two weeks of your sales team following up with the eight event attendees that seemed like “hot” leads at the time, you realize you have maybe one possible customer from the 50 original registrants.

The “plate lickers” got you. This is not their fault — they were hungry and firmly believe there is such a thing as a free lunch.

The problem is yours — a systemic failure to consistently qualify and cleanse your lead database and a lack of lead scoring infrastructure that led to wasted effort, lost time, and squandered budget dollars.

Lead Trap #2: Lead Neglect

Your marketing team’s latest campaign was a huge lead generation success. Leads are pouring into the funnel and marketing has a sense that many of these leads are high quality and properly qualified.

A slew of what are believed to be strong leads are transitioned to the sales team. But the transition is slow and misalignment between marketing and sales causes delays in follow up. What’s more is that the lack of sales enablement efforts leave the sales team completely overwhelmed and unable to manage this large influx of leads.

Some leads get contacted by sales reps, but they have inaccurate information that was passed on to them by marketing. Other leads that are contacted are highly unqualified and sales reps spend hours working and nurturing these leads that can’t afford what you’re selling in the first place.

Some leads never get contacted at all and are left wondering why they ever reached out to your brand in the first place. This is devastating to your brand and organization.

The original marketing campaign that seemed so successful because of lead quantity has become a disaster because of poor communication and non-existent process alignment between your marketing and sales functions.

The Answer Isn’t Always More Leads

Look, generating a lot of leads is great, but it’s only the start of a process that begins with the quality and accuracy of your lead database and ends with a customer, client, or member that’s a stalwart brand champion.

Without a well-oiled and refined sales process, clear lead scoring protocols, and strong marketing and sales alignment, producing large amounts of leads will do more harm than good as the lead/potential customer experience will be poor or non-existent.

So, what is the answer?

Generating a strong amount of quality leads; identifying which leads are the most qualified; scoring each lead and placing them in a bucket (hot, warm, cold, unqualified); and arming your sales team with the processes, tools, and training to succeed (sales enablement).

It’s critical to remember that lead quality always trumps lead quantity. It’s even more important to remember that an obsessive focus on lead generation volume at the expense of marketing and sales process improvement is a recipe for disaster.

If you’re ready to reshape your sales program, we can help you get there. Illumine8 Marketing & PR has helped organizations of all sizes create, maintain, and improve their marketing, sales, and customer experience platforms to maximize customer loyalty, increase repeat business, and amplify their brand reach to generate high-converting leads.

Reach out to us today. We’d love to discuss your vision and how you see your company getting there.

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