Getting Out of the B2B Lead Generation Trap

TrapsMost B2B marketing organizations miss the biggest opportunities to impact their business because they have not identified the right goals.

Why isn’t business coming out of your ears?

Dig into that question, ask why of every answer or assumption you come up with, and you will eventually get to the root challenge and the basis for goals that can move your business forward.

It is easier said than done.

Most B2B marketing organizations start with a goal that looks like “deliver 18,000 leads to sales.” The lead goal was determined by the new revenue goal, the number of leads sales will need to reach the goal, and the portion of leads that marketing will need to contribute.

It makes sense, it is logical and it can be difficult to question. However, if a spreadsheet and series of status quo assumptions are driving your marketing goals, you will continue to compete on the basis of an increasingly expensive volume game.

Ask Why

It is time to start asking why and finding new opportunities. Here are just a few of the why questions to start with.

  • Why is our conversion rate so low?
  • Why can’t we raise our average contract value?
  • Why isn’t our churn rate lower?
  • Why don’t we have more organic, or over the transom, leads?
  • Why do we lose so often against competitor X?
  • Why do we win so often again competitor Z?

Eventually you will get to answers that highlight things like perceptions, competitive positioning or buying processes that are impacting your business’s success and can be changed through marketing.

Your New Goals

You have now identified things marketing can do that will give you a competitive advantage. You need to prioritize these goals and identify just one or two to adopt as marketing objectives.

If the priorities are not clear, begin estimating the cost, the time and the benefit to your business of each potential objective.

If, like many B2B marketing organizations, you have been primarily focused on lead generation in the past, start with objectives that require a smaller investment and that you will benefit from quickly.

You will still need to deliver leads, but as you work towards your additional goals, you will develop a stronger competitive position that is less dependent lead generation.

Your Turn

Do you see B2B marketers get caught in the lead generation trap, striving to deliver more volume to support growth every year?

Share your observations in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Photo Credit: archer10 (Dennis) via Flickr cc

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  • Jeff Ogden

    Nice post, Eric. I think the struggle to deliver quality sales leads is because they failed to build a foundation first. Insightful personas, strong value propositions, a clear definition of what is and is not a lead, relevant content, etc.

  • Rene Power

    Listen first, sell second, right? Nice post.

    • Eric Wittlake

      Spot on. Thanks Rene!

  • Doug Kessler

    Great post. We’re seeing a lot of backwards goal-setting an snot enough challenging of the assumptions underlying the goals.

  • Doug Kessler

    Great post. We’re seeing a lot of backwards goal-setting and not enough challenging of the assumptions underlying the goals.

  • Doug Kessler

    Great post. We’re seeing a lot of backwards goal-setting and not enough challenging of the assumptions underlying the goals.

    • Eric Wittlake

      Thanks Doug. Glad to hear I’m in good company at least.

  • Karen Zapp, b2b copywriter

    Thanks for the wake-up call. Your insights and perspective were good reminders for me with regard to our own business … as well as what we do for clients. “Lead generation trap” is an accurate description!

    • Eric Wittlake

      Thanks for the comment, glad to hear it may be able to help you and your clients!

  • SalesPortal

    Saying you need X new leads could mean anything in the long run. Suddenly you’re looking to hit a number goal and quality of those leads falls by the wayside. What good is 18,000 new leads if they are the wrong kind of lead?

  • Pascal Claeys

    this remembers me of the 5 why’s of Japanese quality management, why is this or that? answer: xyz, followed by another and why is that? and so on (5x) thx for posting!

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