Recent Lead Generation Poll Shows Converting Leads-to-Sales Pipeline is Biggest Frustration

I recently hosted a poll to ask fellow marketers which aspect of the B2B lead generation frustrated them the most.

Overall, 34% of the 94 participants replied that converting leads to pipeline revenue is the biggest issue for them. According to the comments, most folks weren’t surprised.


View poll data here.

When poll responses are broken down by company size, we found that converting leads falls slightly below closing the loop for enterprises. And, for 50% of the large companies closing the loop was the biggest frustration. If you look at the results by Job function, you’ll see that converting leads is the biggest issue for consultants, PR professionals, marketers and business developers alike.

Overall, I think it’s fair to say that if these individuals were closing the loop, they would be able to understand how to improve lead quality, which would in turn raise conversion. Closing the loop and converting leads to pipeline revenue go hand-in-hand.

Because “passing leads off to sales” barely even ranked on the poll, I’d think it would be safe to say that these companies and individuals aren’t getting the right feedback on leads from sales. It’s a vital element in making sure the leads are being acted upon as well as lead refinement.

If you rely only on your CRM or SFA to manage your closed loop lead reporting you’re likely missing valuable data to improve sales conversion. That’s why I recommend closed-loop feedback huddles structured around open discussion and questions such as:

• Have you been satisfied with the quality of leads that has been generated?
• How can we make our leads more actionable for you?
• What are unique attributes of leads that went into the sales pipeline or or were closed?
• What other questions would help you better prepare for the next action on new leads?
• Why are leads getting stuck? What can we be doing to help you sell or win this deal?
• What questions or challenges are you hearing that are stalling deals?

Other elements that these companies should be incorporating into huddles include:

• Timing – Huddles should be consistently held, at least once a month. With our partner, we started with a
weekly huddle to get the system rolling, and then shifted to biweekly as the system took root.
• Status – Where are the leads currently in the sales process? Which leads have been incorrectly qualified and need further follow-up? Which leads need to be handed back to Marketing for additional nurturing?
• Review – What’s working with the current process? What still needs to be improved? What wins can be celebrated with both teams?

Feedback huddles can be met with resistance from team members and be a challenge to organize or facilitate especially with larger companies, but the reward for this extra effort is well worth the improvements you’ll see in all aspects of the sales and marketing partnerships.

Worth noting:

1. Sales professionals responded that figuring out which names are valuable was the biggest frustration. I would suggest that they compare each lead with their Ideal Customer Profile to help them narrow down the list and consider using lead qualification and a universal lead definition.
2. One Marketing Executive who said she was surprised that “volume of names” didn’t rank higher. She said “Most of the teams I’ve worked with are still buying lists and don’t really know where to start building an opt-in list. There’s a sense of urgency to everything they do, so they don’t think they have time to build it themselves. Of course, that may be why ‘figuring out which names are valuable’ came in second. If the names on your list didn’t opt-in it’s hard to tell who is valuable and who is not.”

One Response to Recent Lead Generation Poll Shows Converting Leads-to-Sales Pipeline is Biggest Frustration

  1. christine October 27, 2009 at 3:55 am #

    Brian: great post. You’re absolutely right; it’s not about lead quantity but lead quality. The definition of a lead and the quality scoring methodology should be jointly defined by sales and marketing. And that should be embedded in the CRM/SFA system. You’re also dead on with closed loop feedback huddles. I’ve found that using field marketing to facilitate those huddles and track marketing generated leads through the pipeline to understand ‘why’ leads close or get dropped systematizes the process. Of course, marketing would be wise to work from a multi-sourced, continually vetted and touched database of targets. Otherwise the whole process will be frustrating and for naught.