6 Reasons Most of Your Leads Suck (and How to Generate Leads that Convert)
Are you feeling down about your company’s leads? If so, you aren’t alone — 37% of marketers say generating high quality leads is one of their biggest challenges.
With so many technology tools at our disposal, it seems like it should be easier than ever to generate great leads that always convert, but the opposite has been true for many companies. While they’re able to use automation to generate leads at scale, the leads they’re finding are failing to convert.
Fortunately, the problem is not that high quality leads don’t exist out there for your business. Usually, it’s just a matter of fixing gaps in your process and taking a more intentional approach.
In this article, we’ll cover 6 of the most common reasons companies end up with low quality leads, plus how you can turn these problems around and generate leads that convert.
- Lack of targeting with frameworks like ICPs and buyer personas is one of the biggest reasons behind low-quality leads.
- Every lead in your pipeline should go through a formal qualification process.
- Leads that fit your ICP and personas are still unlikely to convert without purchase intent.
- Marketing and sales teams must collaborate to ensure they collect the right information from new leads via online channels.
- Key actions for keeping leads high quality: target, qualify, and prioritize.
6 Reasons Most of Your Leads Suck (and How to Generate Leads that Convert)
You don’t know who to target
Generating high quality leads requires an intentional, targeted effort. If you feel like most of your leads suck, your first step should be revisiting your ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer personas. If you don’t have them already defined, now is the time to do it.
These two frameworks are key to ensuring your lead generation strategy is reaching the right audience — companies and individuals with a need for what your company offers.
Start first with your ICPs. These outline attributes of the organizations that are best-fit for your products and services — things like company size, maturity, budget, location, industry, etc. Then, move on to your buyer personas, which describe the individuals within an organization that make purchase decisions. Personas should include descriptors like job title, seniority, business function, and professional pain points.
Here’s a helpful visual that shows how they fit together:
Many companies have multiple ICPs and buyer personas. Align your lead generation tactics with the specific ICP and persona you’re targeting — and it may not be the same for each one.
For example: A young junior marketing professional doing product research for their company will likely engage on different channels than the decades-older executive making the final purchase decision. But if you don’t engage that young researcher first, you won’t even be an option for the final decision maker.
Understanding these nuances requires strong ICPs and personas as well as a data-driven approach that analyzes who exactly is entering your pipeline, from where, and how the sales process shakes out from through to purchase.
You’ve got the right company but the wrong person
Thinking further on ICPs and buyer personas, it’s a common challenge to have the former right and the latter wrong. In other words: you’ve got a lead from the right company, but the wrong contact person.
Let’s think again about the junior marketer researching potential products. Once that lead is in the pipeline, it’s up to your marketing and sales teams to research the lead, realize they need to be in touch with a decision maker, and take the right steps to get in contact with them.
In some cases, this requires impressing the junior marketer first (i.e. he or she will choose a final short list of options for the real decision maker). In that case, be sure you understand their process and are taking steps to make that final list (rather than making a hard sell to the junior employee who can’t accept it).
Your leads aren’t qualified
Qualifying leads is one of the most effective ways to improve the quality of your leads. Failing to do so, on the other hand, can make your lead follow-up a guessing game, with sales reps in the dark about whether the lead even has the potential to convert. This, of course, leads to wasted time, money, and resources no company wants to spend.
Lead qualification ideally includes three separate steps:
- Marketing qualified lead (MQL) — A lead can usually be qualified by marketing if they’ve taken action to show interest and fit your ICP.
- Sales accepted lead (SAL) — This step indicates the lead has officially been passed from marketing to sales, and that sales acknowledges it as a lead worth pursuing.
- Sales qualified lead (SQL) — At this point, the lead shows high intent and can be considered a true opportunity.
While leads that are qualified move to the next stage of the sales process, unqualified (but still high potential) leads can be funneled into a lead nurturing program for further engagement.
Every company has different specific criteria for what constitutes an MQL, SAL, or SQL. The most important thing is to define it clearly, and get your marketing and sales teams on the same page. When you set standards around lead qualification, the baseline quality of your entire lead pool will elevate over time.
There’s no purchase intent
Purchase intent should be an early and high-priority factor when you evaluate new leads in your pipeline. If you have a lead that perfectly fits your ICP but does not have the budget or intent to buy your solutions, you want to know that before a sales rep invests their time.
That said, intent can change, and current low intent doesn’t have to eliminate a lead from your pipeline completely. You can engage them through soft channels like newsletter and social media, and reach out periodically to see if their intent level has changed. In the meantime, you can redirect your current sales efforts to more immediately high-potential leads.
You need more information
Lead generation is largely automated today, meaning lead information is collected with tools like online forms or via website data trackers. While this presents huge benefits for organizations, it can also create a disconnect between the channels that collect lead data and the human sales reps who actually need the information.
One of the reasons your leads might seem like they suck is because they’re simply not complete — there’s not enough to go on to decide if the lead is worth pursuing or if it’s really a good fit for your company.
To resolve it, sales needs to collaborate with marketing to identify where information gaps exist in the lead gen process and take the necessary steps to fix them.
The Takeaway: Quality Leads Require Intentional Lead Generation
While technology has taken over much of the lead generation process in recent years, it’s essential that marketing and sales teams stay connected to it and intentional about who their lead gen efforts target.
If generating high quality leads could be summed up in three steps, they would be:
- Target the right customers
- Qualify every lead in the pipeline
- Prioritize leads by potential
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