Solving The Lead Quality Dilemma

Lead generation is one of the core goals of any sales and marketing department. The idea is simple – the more leads a company can generate, the more chances for conversion it has down the line. Awareness is the driver of sales, so maximizing that number of consumers who have heard of your product is one strategy of lifting sales in the long run.

However, lead generation can be a tricky process. Yes, you want to maximize the number of leads you can generate, but you also need to be conscious of lead quality. If you’re marketing to a million people, but your product is completely irrelevant to these individuals, then you aren’t actually progressing at all toward your next goal of converting these leads into customers.

The “lead quality dilemma” is one challenge that every business faces and can be particularly difficult to pin down because there is often no easy answer. Everyone in marketing and sales has an excuse for why these leads are not being turned into customers.

Marketing will point fingers at sales, claiming they aren’t engaging leads in a timely fashion or aren’t conveying the product’s value correctly. Sales can just as easily fire back at marketing, insisting that campaigns aren’t targeted properly or aren’t generating the number of leads needed to make quotas. Either way, poor lead quality is an issue for every sales and marketing team, and it is something that you need to work to fix.

The Root of Poor Leads
Amidst all the finger pointing, there are generally three key causes for poor leads: budget, need and timescale. All marketing and sales efforts ride on these three components, and when one pillar isn’t up to par, lead generation suffers as a result, Inbound Sales Network adds.

For marketing departments, budget has traditionally been a core concern. Money is a limiting factor – and marketers need to scale their efforts to match the budget they are given. Unfortunately, a limited budget means that some qualified leads may go untargeted by marketing campaigns. Conversely, marketers may be forced to make initiatives broader than they would normally have liked and as a result, end up reaching prospects who aren’t an ideal match for the product.

Need refers to the ability to position products and services as something that will solve customers’ problems. Every person or business has a need they want fulfilled. For consumers, that could be more money or happiness. For businesses, that need could be anything from a way to streamline operations to a better supplier. If your product or service can fill those needs, then they will be interested.

Unfortunately, vague campaigns can paint products and services in an ambiguous light. Prospects may be asking themselves, “Do I really need this?” If they turn into leads, they may not necessarily convert because they aren’t sure whether your product or service is worth their time and money. This can result in an unqualified lead being passed off as a high-quality one.

Finally, there is the issue of timeliness. You might be able to “wow” prospects with your campaign, but realize this is a limited opportunity. Emotions can change overnight, and someone who may have purchased your product or service today may be indifferent in a month, a week or even the next day.

When salespeople have many leads to follow up on, timeliness can become a huge problem. While they wade through a sea of dead and unqualified leads, hot prospects wait to be engaged. If a prospect is left to wait too long, they may become disinterested and look to someone else who can meet their needs in a more timely fashion.

Furthermore, all of these core issues could manifest by themselves or compound each other. For example, lead decay may happen because a salesperson has a lot of hot leads to engage, or because budget issues resulted in a broad campaign that drove unqualified leads. The key is to recognize all of these issues as possible roots of poor lead generation.

Solving the Lead Quality Dilemma
While there are a number of options for addressing the lead quality dilemma, perhaps one of the most effective options is investing in lead scoring and sales enablement tools. These solutions can help to align sales and marketing teams and get them on the same page. The right software will enable sales and marketing teams to better score leads based on quality and help cull the bad leads as well as bring the hot ones to the top of the mix.

Numerous companies have noted the benefits of using sales enablement and marketing automation tools to assist with lead generation. For example, one recent survey conducted by the Lenskold Group and The Pedowitz Group showed the integration of these tools resulted in a 60 percent increase in the quantity of leads passed to sales. Implementation also improved the percent of leads that sales deemed acceptable and convertible to 60 percent – this means marketing was generating not only more leads, but higher quality ones at that. As a result, the lead to closed sale conversion rate was up 40 percent as well, according to the research.

Communication is a pivotal part of aligning sales and marketing departments. Businesses need to open up the lines of communication between the two, which often act as if they are in competition with one another as they blame each other for losses. You should be encouraging them to work in unison. Have marketing show your sales teams their campaigns and strategies and relay how they will nurture and prepare leads so that sales can convert them.

If there is a rift between sales and marketing, closing the gap between the two may help to generate better results and more conversions. Tools such as marketing automation with sales enablement and lead scoring may be the answer to this problem and help improve collaboration between sales and marketing, which is key to bolstering communication as well.