These B2B Leads Suck! Really?


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How many times has a sales team told a marketing team that the leads they source for them suck? My guess is that this has happened more times than we want to count. And, many of those times it was for good reason. But, even with marketers working harder to qualify leads and develop them to the point of sales readiness, I’m not seeing a huge shift in how sales teams approach them after the handoff.

This is evidenced by:

  • Cherry picking and leaving the rest to sit unattended.
  • Lag time in responding to leads sourced by marketing.
  • Lack of formalized closed-loop processes that results in “those leads suck” when sales is pushed for feedback.

Therefore, I’m not convinced that the sales team’s evaluation of marketing leads is all that accurate. In fact, research on sales effectiveness makes me even more suspect.

This includes:

  • Less than half of all sales deals forecast result in wins. (CSO Insights)
  • Only about half of salespeople are making quota. (CSO Insights)
  • 20% of executive-level buyers said salespeople lacked knowledge about their products or those of their competitors. (McKinsey and Company)
  • Only 15% of executive-level buyers are willing to accept a second meeting with a sales rep. (Forrester)

So, do the leads suck, as sales would have us believe? Or, are they avoiding taking responsibility for their lapse in developing the knowledge and skills that it takes to engage with buyers in today’s buying process?

After all, in the case of those last two bullet points, salespeople got the meeting, but couldn’t progress the relationship any farther. Not because of the quality of the lead, but because of the experience the buyer had with them. That’s not a lead that sucked, it’s a lacking in the salesperson.

Have salespeople been too slow to adapt to buyers taking control of the process—including that they have access to information they used to only be able to get from a sales rep? And, if marketers have stepped up their game to truly catch and keep the attention of buyers in the earlier stages by developing great content, is the transition to sales shining a light on these shortcomings by comparison?

Okay, before salespeople come after me, I’m not picking on you. I’m seeing the lack of alignment and enablement as an out-of-balance teeter totter. If one side goes up in value for buyers, it appears that the other side goes down.

Leads don’t suck. If we think they do, it’s our fault – collectively. In other words, both sides need to contribute to solving the problem. Otherwise we’re spinning our wheels and getting stuck in the cycles of ineffective processes. And that helps no one.

If sales says leads suck then they need to say why and provide ideas for how to improve their development into opportunities. What’s lacking? How would you do it differently?

If marketing is amassing all the research and insights to up their game, they need to share that information with the sales team to help them improve on having conversations that buyers find valuable. And I’m not talking an information dump that sales has to wade through. I’m talking about packaging that information up in helpful, easy-to-use ways.

Share the knowledge. Spread the wealth. I would hope that both sides can get behind those goals.

Just remember that a high majority of the leads you don’t sell to end up buying a comparable solution from your competitors within about 18 months. So, do those leads really suck?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and the CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create and use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Ardath is the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She's also an in-demand industry speaker.


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