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The Key To Diagnosing Lead Generation Problems

For many B2B companies, lead generation is a perennial problem. In fact, it often becomes a fairly constant source of friction between sales and marketing.

It’s usually the sales team that is complaining. “We don’t have enough leads,” they’ll say. Or “The leads you’re providing aren’t qualified.” Other times it’s managers who are grumbling that the leads are too expensive.

At a certain point, these criticisms become so pervasive that it’s really tempting for marketing teams to just throw up their hands and give up. They decide that sales or management simply has unrealistic expectations that they can never meet.

In some cases, it really is a problem of unrealistic expectations. But most of the time, there is something that marketing could do to improve the situation. And frankly, even if the problem is expectations, marketing can do some education and training to make things better.

The key in solving lead generation problems is getting to an accurate root problem diagnosis.

It’s easy to jump to the obvious solution, but that is almost always a mistake. For example, say the problem is that marketing isn’t generating enough leads. The obvious solution is to do more lead generating activities. But doing more of what isn’t working well now probably isn’t going to fix the problem.

There are tons of different things that can hurt lead generation, and any one of them might be the true root cause for your problem. That means that you have to consider a wide range of possibilities and keep investigating until you’ve exposed the fundamental issue.

Let’s see how some of these factors that affect lead generation would play out in our example where marketing’s problem is that they aren’t generating enough leads:

  • The marketing mechanisms and media being used. A common root cause of lead generation problems today is that marketing organizations are relying too much on passive or inbound lead generation mechanisms like Websites, blogs, and social media, and not enough on outbound or proactive mechanisms like direct mail, telephone outreach, or advertising. In most cases, inbound mechanisms don’t scale well if you need to increase the number of leads generated. Also, you could do a hundred social media posts per day, but if your target prospects aren’t on social media, it won’t do you a bit of good. Make sure you’re matching your methods and media to your target audience.
  • The deals being negotiated with the media outlets and providers. Whether your media buyer is in-house or you contract with an outside agency for that service, you need to make sure that the person doing the buying is a skilled negotiator. These prices are almost always negotiable. If you are paying list rates for advertising and lead generation services, you’re probably wasting some money. It leaves you with less budget to spend on other lead generation activities, and it could be the root cause of your lead volume problem.
  • The cost of production behind the lead generation programs. This issue is closely related to the first two. If you are spending a lot of money creating materials for a particular medium, say producing television commercials, for example, it may not be the wisest use of your budget on a cost-per-lead basis, leaving you insufficient funds for other activities. Or maybe you’re spending thousands of dollars creating new white papers every month to feed your content marketing system. Perhaps you need to think about re-purposing some of your existing content as a way to improve your efficiency and generate more leads with the budget you have.
  • The attractiveness or appeal of the lead generation “bait.” If you aren’t generating enough leads, you should also take a close look at your offers. For example, maybe you’re asking people to sign up for a product demo when they aren’t really ready for that yet. Maybe they would prefer something with a little less commitment, like a webinar. Or maybe you’re pitching a white paper that explains why your product is better than competing products when your audience isn’t yet convinced that they really have a problem to solve. Perhaps you would do better with a more educational resource meant for prospects who are earlier in the process.

We could go on and on with possible root causes for this particular problem, but every situation will be different. Don’t let that discourage you! We’ve talked to many marketing teams that have been able to find the root causes of their problems and effectively address them, so it is possible if you commit to doing the investigation and experimentation necessary to find a solution. We have a webinar called Avoiding Costly Mistakes in Lead Generation that examines some of these case studies. If you are currently having a problem related to lead generation at your organization, it’s a great place to start educating yourself about common root causes and proven solutions.

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