June 1

Lead Generation Poll shows converting leads-to-sales pipeline is biggest frustration

Lead Generation


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

Overall, 34% of the 94 participants replied that converting leads to pipeline revenue is the biggest issue. 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 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 and 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 the unique attributes of leads that went into the sales pipeline 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?
  • Timing – Huddles should be consistently held at least once a month. We started with a weekly huddle with our partner 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. Still, 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 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.”

You may also like:

Lead generation metrics should emphasize opportunities, not just leads

5 Things You Can Do To Improve B2B Lead Generation

16 Proven Ways to Get Better Opportunities Now

5 dials to tune in your lead generation process

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing. He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. Always a good reminder. We develop a lot of business to business lead generation sites and one of the key components is to ensure the transfer from leads to sales. One of the things we do is to have the customer them self help out through interactivity on the campaign site combines with real time freed back to the sales (or other relevant departments)

  2. Brian, very interesting poll – I completely agree that a closed loop feedback process is critical in improving opportunity quality and ultimately helping to convert opportunities to pipeline revenue.

  3. I do a lot of lead gen and the thing I worry about most is whether my clients will do anything with the leads. Too many see the lead rate increase and start celebrating. When I ask about conversations, I often get hemming and hawing. How can I adjust the upfront lead generation tools if I can’t get feedback on the lead quality, conversions, loyalty, profitability, and other metrics? Marketing just doesn’t talk to sales.

    Lead generation is a process, not a one-time project. But the hurdles are huge. Most companies need coaching just to understand the idea that the lead generator isn’t a branding tool, that you can’t jump the gun and start selling product instantly, that you can’t jam 3 messages into one lead gen promotion, etc.

    I’ve always said that, in theory, lead gen is the simplest marketing concept there is. But in practice, it seems to be the concept that most people get wrong.

  4. Thanks for sharing this poll and information, this is some great stuff. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that marketers and sales managers have. I think that you must be able to be personable and memorable with your leads, so even if you don’t make the sale with the first call, they will remember you and your product when they are in a greater need.

  5. Lead Generation is vital.
    It must be a strategic process .
    Even straight referrals are a type of lead.
    Client Retention is a result of a client that stemmed from a prospect, which came from a lead of some sort.
    First establishing what the company would require from a qualified lead is needed.
    A lead will turn into a prospect, then somewhere in the sales process they will turn into a client.
    Sales is sales, lead generation is lead generation, and prospecting is prospecting.
    Know your role, work within it.

  6. In B2B even during the purchase process buyers and decision makers will visit your website.

    There for it is important not only to know what company visit your website but also to monitor increase or decrease of the level of interest during the sales process.

    This will allow you to better convert leads-to-sales pipeline.

  7. Great article. Many thanks for sharing this. Finding the leads is the easy part but lead scoring and successful sales relationships are crucial to ensure that these leads are accepted and converted! I’ve registered for your webinar on the 21st too to see what other gems I can pick up!

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