Is there such a thing as a bad lead?

So much marketing effort goes into generating inbound leads for sales to follow up. Hours of content planning, events, digital marketing, events (did we mention events?), and invariably the business cards, names and leads are sent to sales to follow up.

Process gaps aside, what if you don’t have marketing support? Or the marketing team are tied up prepping for the AGM and you really need some more leads to hit your quarter end target?

Finding good quality leads is one of the biggest challenges facing business today. And that seems odd given our professional presence online has never been more transparent and accessible.

The reason finding good quality leads is hard is that the key is in assessing and differentiating between various leads along the sales funnel. Without taking the time to pre-assess the lead your sales team could waste a lot of time.

Perhaps more damaging is the opportunity cost of chasing unqualified names plucked from social media networks – existing client needs can suffer if the sales or account service team are distracted by the chase for wrong clients.

What is a lead?

When your lead generation process relies on scant information and the hope that a busy prospect notices you “liking” their post online, real buyers who have the need, budget and desire for your products could go unnoticed. If all your names are thrown into the same bucket, it can cause a huge waste of time.

Leads should be considered as either:

The “coulds”

This is a person or company that could buy your product or service, but hasn’t shown any indication or interest in doing so. They may have never heard of your company or considered the problem to which you have a solution. The “coulds” tend to stay at the first level of your sales funnel for a long time, without any means or intention to spend money.

The “shoulds”

This is someone who, on the balance of probabilities, should purchase from your company or a competitor one day. This person is actively searching for a solution to a problem they have and they have an awareness of your brand and somewhat of an interest in your company.

A lead

A lead is actually someone who meets the criteria you’ve set: they are qualified to engage with you and have the right behavior, interest and intent. Most importantly they have access to a budget and so are a valid person to talk to in relation to your product or service.

Why it matters

When you are rightly cautious in deciding where to spend your time and have an established criteria in what qualifies as a lead, your conversion rate can rise. True leads have a shortcut to the action end of your funnel – they just need a small enticement to get there.

No matter how you cultivate the “coulds” or “shoulds”, there is enormous value in defining a “lead brief” that outlines their level of intent, industry, level in the company and geography.

Otherwise your sales team could waste time being the engine that shouldn’t. Chasing sales and finding leads online might seem productive but adding clarity to your sales process is profitable.


About the Author

Martin Soley is Group General Manager Data Services and has over a decades experience across data quality, analytics and related technology in ANZ and abroad. Martin’s strategic insight and expertise drives commercial outcomes for DCA’s varied clients.

Blog Categories