Lead Generation: Why It’s Not Working

“How many leads did we get?”

This question reflects the ultimate metric of success in B2B Marketing today. After all, if content, communication, distribution and marketing are a success, the leads surely follow — right?

Actually…in an effort to stream in gazillions of leads, many teams lose sight of what actually matters — long-term conversion, loyalty and happy customers. Which, honestly, can be the harder nut to crack when you have multiple audiences, a long sales-cycle, and a prospect’s heavy-duty decision-making process.

So, let’s get real, people. Leads are not numbers. They’re people. They’re busy. They’re swamped. And they should never, ever be considered a notch in our belt.

Let’s Obsess Less About Numbers

In that monthly meeting with the C-Suite, are you bringing in metrics showing the volume of new leads? Does the table cheer loudly, challenge low numbers or simply nod in agreement with the “we’re holding steady” results?

The reality is that numbers alone do not tell the whole story of Lead Generation success.

Let’s Stop Setting Up the Sales Team for Failure

It’s an understandable knee-jerk reaction. You see a list of leads and assume it’s a “pot o’ gold” that the sales team will surely be thankful for. So, you waste no time in lobbing any and all leads their way. You consider the leads “captured,” check it off your to-do list and proudly pass the “buck” on to sales. But is your job really done?

Let’s look at the stats:

  • 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales. Yet, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Just 56% of B2B organizations verify valid business leads before they are passed to Sales. (Source: MarketingSherpa)

The poor sales team!
(As a life-long marketer myself I can’t believe just said that)

No wonder they don’t follow up, don’t reach their quotas and can’t seem to make anything from that “pot o’ gold.” Half of that gold isn’t even real.

Let’s Obsess More About Qualification

It’s so much harder to qualify leads before shooting them over to sales. Yet, without doing so, our content marketing and lead generation efforts end up simply as “Cry Wolf” campaigns that the sales team will choose to ignore.

The Truth About Qualifying Leads

Both Marketing and Sales teams alike often identify a lead as “qualified” if they’re ready to buy or clearly fit the “profile” of a buyer.

But remember, 50% of leads are “qualified” but still not yet ready to buy. (Source: Gleanster Research)

And, only 25% of leads are legitimate and should even advance to sales. (Source: Gleanster Research)

Let’s Obsess Most About Nurturing

So, how are you supposed to separate the “ready” from the “reluctant?”

This is actually easier than you think. Instead of pressuring yourself to decide whether a lead is ready for sales, determine whether the lead is ready to be nurtured.

Here’s the beauty of this approach…

By creating a courting (nurture) strategy that delivers high-value content, information, education and resources you put the lead in charge of qualifying himself.

Assuming you’ve got a solid Marketing Automation system in place, a simple scoring structure reveals exactly where you stand with each lead. As he clicks, reads, downloads, considers, learns and becomes more confident in his decision, he begins to move himself towards a sale.

Let’s be clear. This is not about cajoling or coercing leads through the funnel. This is not about “convincing” them. Instead, it’s about providing information that most often causes the light bulbs to go on, eyebrows to go up and even more “curious” questions to arise. As you “listen” and build a library of helpful content, contacts respond by either disqualifying or qualifying themselves as leads. 

Let’s Make Content the Sales Team’s Best Friend

79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. (Source: MarketingSherpa)

But how many of those leads could have been saved with nurturing content that respectfully and clearly helped them through their learning and decision-making process?

Companies that excel at lead nurturing have 9% more sales reps making quota. (Source: CSO Insights)

By producing content that genuinely nurtures leads while qualifying the leads before shooting them over to sales, we create a win-win for both sides (prospect and sales). Show your sales team the scoring process within your Marketing Automation system. Work with them to understand the buying cycle. And, if you overhaul your approach, be sure they know about it. After all, they’ll need to time to embrace the transformation from a “Cry Wolf” lead list to a “Warm and Ready Lead” list. 


Deana Goldasich

Deana Goldasich, CEO and founder of Well Planned Web, plans and implements Content Marketing to help clients nurture leads, market their expertise and create an impactful presence online.

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  1. Steven Moody on July 8, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    Great data points, and agree about content. If more salespeople viewed themselves as openers (and were paid for this) the entire funnel would operate far better.

  2. Deana Goldasich on July 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Thanks Steven. When you say “openers,” do you mean that the sales people start the entire process?

  3. Steven Moody on July 9, 2013 at 9:50 am

    I think Sales people should start the 1-1 relationship, past what most will see as corporate marketing. The personalization gimmick is overplayed, and few will be excited about an email signed by the CEO anymore. When the salesperson reaches out to new leads, and rather than trying to close immediately, simply looks to place the lead on the best nurturing path, these leads will come back ready to buy.

  4. Deana Goldasich on July 9, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Agreed. We actually set up our campaigns so that the nurturing campaigns come from the sales person (set up as the contact/owner) every time — vs. the CEO. It’s essential that they follow the scoring and trends alongside marketing for sure. However, we’ve also found that if left *solely* to the sales team, they’ll either reach out to some leads too early or let “warm” leads slip through the cracks. The marketing team has to become an initial filter (or shared filter) to allow quality leads to float to the top — making sales’ efforts worthwhile.

  5. Brian Hansford on October 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Contacts without context do NOT equal leads of any kind. Agreeing on definitions of the different levels of qualification can help. If Marketing and Sales have their own definition of ‘qualification’ – be that Marketing Qualified or Sales Qualified – and those definitions aren’t aligned and don’t fit into the buyer’s journey, all is lost.

    Nurture campaigns without content, well, that’s a contradiction in terms! 🙂 Content fuels how customers engage with an organization. And as I’ve said for several years, content fuels the nurture campaigns that are powered by marketing automation. Without the content, the rocket simply sits on the launch pad.


  6. John Rugh on April 30, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Deana, this is a great, thought-provoking article I’ll happily share with my networks. Thank you for posting it!

  7. mark on June 5, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I am new to lead generation, but I have worked many years in
    telemarketing and customer service.

    I was employed to promote a website, basically calling
    decision makers asking them to register on the website. I thought that the idea
    behind the website was a good so it was not a hard sell.

    Most businesses were interested but understandably wanted me
    to email them more information (the client wanted us to get the business to
    sign up straight away, which I did not think was realistic).

    I would send out the information by email and then update
    the database and on my own accord I add a note to say if I thought the lead was
    a good one or not.

    I naturally assumed that an email would be sent promptly to
    the customer with detailed information regarding the website and the benefits
    that registering on the website would provide to the customer.

    Imagine my horror on following up with the customer in few
    days to find out that they had not received an email (which I had promised
    would be sent) and if they had received an email that the email only contained
    a banner with websites name, a brief explanation and a very small link to
    website. For me the worst was that there was not personal salutation to the
    customer. The emails were generic.

    As I previously stated, I am new at lead generation but shouldn’t
    a customer who has shown interest after a cold call receive a personalised
    email as soon as possible (while the call is still fresh in the mind)?

    From a novice’s point of view, treating the customer with
    respect is paramount.

    I apologise for wandering off topic, but after only two
    weeks of lead generation, I think the area is full of possibilities, especially
    when followed up with a great email marketing campaign.

  8. Eddie on October 19, 2015 at 7:25 am

    I’d be interested in any decent ploys or tactics for approaching potential leads while manning an Instore display unit. Does anyone have an opening question of remark that seems to bring results. Incidentally the product is an alternative to re roofing houses at a fraction of the cost. Any ideas appreciated

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