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Very obvious statement to open: to grow a business, you need a pipeline. To have a pipeline, you need leads. Hopefully none of that was new information for anyone reading this. That’s the core/crux of sales.

But despite the importance of leads, a lot of companies do struggle with lead generation. Huh? If it’s something you need to focus on, and it demands attention and resources, how do companies do it so badly?

There are typically four main reasons, although a few others pop up from time to time too.

The Inbound or Website Issue

Essentially, your website does lots of flashy things, is very informative about what you do and has a bunch of complex service package pages, but it’s not actually set up to drive leads. This is a problem. Many decision-makers we’ve met tend to ignore their website because it’s not a direct and obvious revenue channel. Oh, but see … it is.

First off, make it simple for people to contact you or engage with what you do. Simplicity is the absolute key. Second: it’s basically your business card to the whole world. Would you give a 108-page document to someone at a networking event? No. And yet, we’ve seen sales websites with nine main navs and 12 sub-navs per nav, i.e. 108 pages. Keep it simple and keep it focused on leads.

Second, pick the right CTA (call-to-action) at the right time. “Ask for an offer” and “Call Us” might be to salesy, especially when the visitors are in early stage of the buyer cycle. They are not looking for an offer and they don’t want to talk to sales yet.

“These leads are old and cold!”

Heard a sales guy scream that to his marketing partner once a few years ago. This is a situation where you get some inbound leads but none of them would convert into a sale. We call them “bad leads” because they come from the wrong companies. You have a sales message problem and do not call out the the right audience (website, social media, even conferences). You’re attracting people you shouldn’t attract. It’s like going on a dating website and you have no interest in Jesus or fishing, and yet your entire profile is about Jesus and fishing … well, you’re going to attract people into Jesus and fishing, and it might not be the best match for you.

The Temple of Busy

Your sales people are “busy” with existing accounts. It’s easier to squeeze out additional 200k from an existing account than earning the first 20k from a new customer. And guess what? People like the path of least resistance. BTW, this can work — we know guys who have made entire careers and have nice houses and all that off 4-5 main accounts. But those are the exceptions, not the rule.

No Product-Market Fit

Your offer is not valuable enough or not relevant these days for the people you talk to. Period. Articulate the right value proposition to the right people in the right companies. Sounds easy but isn’t. We have a program for that. We developed the program in part because lots of companies are not good at product-market fit, so there was a clear avenue to help.

Some other reasons that come up too

  • Not willing to play the longer game — > We know someone that became a great customer for a business, but didn’t contact the business until he had been on their mailing list for 57 weeks. A lot of sales directors won’t tolerate a 57-week nurture, but you have to be willing to. People can only buy from you when they have problems/needs/desires and budget/spend, and not everyone has budget/spend all the time. There is a degree of patience in lead generation.
  • Sales and marketing issues — > Marketing and sales are usually evaluated on different metrics internally, and it causes a lot of friction. This is honestly why it makes sense to outsource these efforts.
  • Who you listen to —> In most companies, there’s one or two “big dogs” on top of sales and marketing efforts. If they are old-school in nature, which is often the case, they will outline a plan that makes little to no sense for 2019, but because of hierarchy, many younger team members, who see a different way to build relationships, will just accept it. We recently had someone sit in a lead gen meeting, hear a strategy that would best be applied in 1991, and everyone just went with it because the strategy came from the SVP of Sales. It won’t be successful but agreeing to try helps you keep your job. Sometimes that’s the stark reality of lead gen.
Ted Bauer
About the author

I help companies to market their content in the most effective way.