Why all B2B leads are not created equal

Put a marketer and salesperson in one room, bring up the subject of sales lead quality, and watch the fun begin. B2B lead value has always been a touchy subject. Because most marketers find that when new leads are passed on to sales for qualification and follow-up, many of the prospects show little interest in the offered product or service. Why is it that so many leads seem apathetic, or even hostile, when a sales person calls? The answer probably lies in the way the lead was generated.

In today’s online marketing world, assessing lead value has become a highly complex effort. Empowered by the Internet, buyers have assumed control of the purchasing process. They research product/service options on your Web site, validate their choices in social media, and probably place their orders online. In this Web-enabled environment, determining a prospect’s interest can be a daunting task. So how do you appraise potential lead generation programs to determine lead quality? Today, you must understand the “where, what, and why” behind the lead.

First, “where” did the lead come from? In what context did the prospect find your link? Was it a Google ad, a banner ad on a publication’s Web site, or a text link in an e-newsletter? Context is important because it leads you toward a fundamental tenet of successful B2B lead generation – relevance.

The “what” entails putting yourself in the prospect’s shoes and understanding the motivation behind the contact. Did they fill out a form on your Web site? Did they browse on a third-party site, provide their name and e-mail address, and then the site’s owner filled in the remainder of their personal information from a database and sent it to you? (This happens more than you think!) Or was the prospect’s name presented as a lead after they indicated an interest in a category of products or services? In fact, some Web media will send you a list of so-called “leads” because they recently requested information from your competitor.

The “why” involves evaluating the value proposition that motivated the prospect to click on your link and convert to a lead. Did this action occur because you offered a free trip to Cancun or because they wanted your new white paper on DNA sequencing?

Research tells us that the most qualified leads come from inbound marketing tactics such as organic and paid search, social media, links on news sites and blogs, etc. In these cases, prospects have a need and are actively searching for your types of products and services. In addition, certain outbound tactics – online advertising and e-mail campaigns combined with high-value content incentives, can deliver the same level of quality as inbound marketing leads.

Before you invest in a lead generation program, use this simple “where, what, and why” framework for determining lead quality. In today’s jungle of digital marketing and pay-per-lead programs, all leads are not created equal.