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Scapegoating Lead Generation

Many of the B2B companies I’ve worked with as a consultant have had one or more of the same three complaints when it comes to their lead generation programs and efforts:

  1. There are not enough leads being generated.
  2. The leads being generated are of poor quality.
  3. The programs are too costly given the returns.

And in some cases, the complaints have been valid.

In one case, for example, the company was only using passive vehicles for reaching their target audience and so their lead flow was just a trickle. In another case, the company was using “bait” that was far too broad in its appeal and generating a lot of untargeted responses. In another situation, the company was spending way too much on production values, driving up their cost-per-lead and driving down their returns.

But as illustrated in a case study I recently prepared for the SellingBrew Playbook — The Ugly Truth About Lead Generation ROI — I’ve run into many situations where these complaints only seemed valid on the surface and the real problems were found elsewhere.

In my experience, lead generation is often a convenient scapegoat.

It’s a lot easier to conclude that you need more or better leads to compensate for your abysmal close-rates than it is to figure-out what’s wrong with your sales strategy or pipeline management processes. And it’s a lot simpler to conclude that your lead generation ROI is underwater because of the “investment” side of the equation rather than question the sales and pricing practices that affect the “return” side of equation.

When it comes to effective lead generation, there are lots of contributing factors—many of which are downstream from the lead-gen activity itself. And while it may not always be easy or convenient—or particularly popular—to identify the real culprits behind sub-par performance, it’s important to remember that easiest or most obvious courses of action are rarely the most profitable.

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