B2B Marketing Lead “Phoenix” Reactivation Project by Christopher Ryan


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How to Generate Revenue from Your Dead Lead Pool

Most companies have a database of contacts that have gone stale.  We refer to these lists by different names, including the dead lead pool, lapsed customer list, or inactive database.  But whatever we call it, this group of people/companies often revenue potential.  In other words, the dead leads are not so dead after all and like the legendary Phoenix bird they can rise from the ashes to help make your revenue goals a reality. 

Consider how people came to be in your inactive file in the first place.  Perhaps they were unresponsive to your emails or phone calls.  Or they told you they weren’t in the market at the time or purchased from competitors.  The first two groups may have been a timing issue – they just weren’t ready at the time you first interacted with them.  But please remember that on average, B2B marketing promotion, only 3-6 percent of responders are in an active buying cycle.  Another 7-10 percent are not ready to buy at the time but will enter a buying cycle within six months.  And a whopping 30 percent-plus will buy a similar product or service sometime in the future. 

In other words, for every suspect who became a viable sales opportunity, there are 4-6 who will do so in the future.  So the last thing you want to do is to give up on these people.  My suggestion is to give them soft offers (information oriented not hard sales) to get them to re-engage with you.  It is also important that if you contact them via email, you include an opportunity for them to opt-out of future emails.  Typically, response rates to this type of reactivation program will be much higher than a similar size promotion to a new list. 

If you don’t have email addresses by all means make phone calls to the list.  You won’t catch that many folks on the phone so make sure you leave a strong compelling message.  Here’s an example: “Hi. I’m Chris Ryan from Fusion Marketing Partners.  I know that we haven’t been in contact for a while, but I wanted to let you know we have a great report showing how companies in your industry have cut their lead cost by 60 percent and increased their sales close rates by 32 percent.  I’ll rush a copy to you if you call me at 719-357-6280.”

As for the third group that comprises your “dead lead pool” – just because they purchased from a competitor doesn’t mean you should drop communication.  These leads can be reactivated because they may now be unhappy with their purchase, their contract has expired, or many other reasons. And if they dislike their current supplier, you may even get some referral business.  

Can’t remember the title, but several years ago I read a book about sales where the author was an experienced B2B sales manager.  Because he was afraid to waste valuable inbound leads on his rookie sales reps, he told them to follow up on the so-called dead leads.  Although he expected minimal if any positive results, he told the new reps that the leads were valuable.  You can probably guess the punch line – the new reps generated a bunch of revenue from the dead lead pool, proving that there was more than one Phoenix in the bunch. 

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christopher Ryan
Christopher Ryan is CEO of Fusion Marketing Partners, a B2B marketing consulting firm and interim/fractional CMO. He blogs at Great B2B Marketing and you can follow him at Google+. Chris has 25 years of marketing, technology, and senior management experience. As a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.


  1. Chris Ryan’s article about reviving your leads, even if you believe they are dead, brought back memories of my past marketing experiences. I have learned more than once not to ASSUME your lead list is full of duds and customers not interested in your products. There are so many reasons they may not have responded or shown interest, which does not mean they cannot be interested with a new, compelling proposition or product offering. I have run campaigns targeting our old lists (some as old as ten years) and we were amazed at how many actually showed interest and converted to sales. In this market, we should all be looking under every rock for business…You may be surprised as Chris so aptly points out.

  2. Nancy, thanks for your comments. I’m impressed that you were able to find good value in a list that includes so many older contacts, especially since so many companies give up on recent prospects that didn’t purchase. More often than not, it will cost far less to reactivate a lapsed prospect than to acquire a new one.

  3. Well taken! In fact, for one of my customers. their most successful marketing campaign is the following, they mentioned during a case study presentation.

    This company is in the area of B2C, considered purchases. Prospects register on the site for a trial. Some of them disappear and may seem like dead leads. However, some 30 days later they may come back to the website to check something out. At that point they don’t even login to the account that they created. Yet, their web analytics tracking cookie still enables the company to make the connection to the previous registration.

    At that point they send an email with an incentive or reminder. They found that response has been very satisfactory for turning these almost dead prospects into fine customers.

    Just a techy’s perspective on this well taken recommendation. I do realize your advice is about much more than just automation or tech stuff.

    Thanks much

  4. Chris,

    This is a great article. When in need of qualified leads, many marketing departments are starting new lead generation programs, rather than trying to reactivate existing leads, while the latter is so much more cost-effective.

    A small addition: don’t forget to create a follow-up strategy for new leads that are coming in. Preventing follow-up failure takes away the need for future lead reactivation campaigns.


    LeadSloth – smart ideas for lazy marketers – http://www.leadsloth.com

  5. Great comments. I like the B2C example that Akin related of sending an email to the lapsed prospect at the appropriate time, based on their visit to the website. And Jep is absolutely correct. A strong ongoing lead nurture program will ensure that you never have to reactivate dead leads. Prospects may be on “life support” but as long as you are communicating with former suspects and prospects, your database will remain a valuable source of future leads and revenue.

    Chris Ryan


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