Why So Many B2B Sales Leads Are Worthless

If you’re a B2B or life science marketer, ask your sales reps about the value of the leads you provide. Most will say they’re trash. Why is it that every salesperson on earth thinks virtually all marketing-generated leads are worthless?

For starters, most sales teams aren’t interested in a contacting a prospect unless their wallet is open and a purchase order is clutched in their hands. Unfortunately, that description covers less than 2 percent of the addressable market. That means your salespeople will think 98% of your leads are a waste of time. 

So, the question becomes how do you improve the quality of your sales leads to enhance the conversion ratio and feel love from your sales team? A good place to start is reviewing the quality of your lead sources. Because all leads aren’t created equal. Understanding a sales lead’s pedigree is critical to assessing its value.

To help with this effort, we’ve compiled a list of primary lead sources and offer a few comments on their worth.

Here goes:

  1. Lead databases and lists: These are companies that have built huge segmented databases with leads organized by geography, title, company, industry, etc. You specify the desired selects and they send you a lead list with contact information. These are the lowest-quality leads available. None of contacts have indicated interest in your product or service and will require cold-call selling. Good luck!
  2. Telemarketing services: These companies put together a list of leads that meet your specs and then cold call them. Again, these are unsolicited leads that have not expressed an interest in what you offer. Also, telemarketing firms don’t know your business or products. When you get a call from a telemarketing firm, what do you do? Click!
  3. Publishers’ lead programs: Many trade publishers offer guaranteed lead programs that mine the subscribers in their database (and only in their database). In some cases, the leads will be readers or web visitors that have requested a white paper or other content. These leads may have some value. But in many cases, the publisher will harvest contacts in its database who have given permission to be sent marketing materials. Would you give a publisher permission to spam your inbox? Neither would I. Also, you can only use the publisher’s channels, whether they reach the desired prospects or not.
  4. Content-driven leads through macro-channels: Now we’re beginning to see some value. Content-driven leads are buyers that have seen your content in channels such as trade media ads, massive email blasts, and social media. The good news: these leads are responding with demonstrated interest in your content. The bad news: you will receive and pay for many worthless leads such as students, teachers, competitors, consultants, third-world scammers, and others who have no interest in buying something.
  5. Personalized, content-driven leads through micro-channels: This source is the home of the high-quality lead. Your content is developed by a provider who knows your markets and products. It’s personalized by title, industry, application, or stage in the buying process. Plus, it’s shared through digital, highly focused micro-channels that only reach a desired audience. Performance media (pay-per-lead, pay-per-action) is used, when possible. And analytics are quickly available. Waste is reduced and lead quality is high since you’re only reaching prospects that have engaged with your content. Bingo!

Tired of sneaking past the conference room during weekly sales meetings? Optimizing your B2B lead sources will make a substantial difference in improving lead quality. While it may not ensure that every prospect has their wallet out, qualification will be easier, conversion will be higher, and your sales reps will be begging for more.