26 Reasons Your Leads Aren’t Converting into Opportunities

I got the band back together: Tom Scearce (aka @TLOTL) and Chris Jablonski (aka @cjablonski). These are my partners in crime when creating long(er) list posts, and they certainly helped me here. We have put together a list of 26 reasons your leads are converting, and, as usual, we had some fun with it.

Before you read on, I want to make one point. There is typically one major issue to overall lead conversion: lack of lead management, also known as passing raw leads/MQLs directly to sales reps. I have yet to find an organization with legit lead management processes that can’t convert leads. They can convert co-reg, content syndication, you name it — because they have built an always-on lead management process to convert leads or inquiries into qualified leads.

One other point, this assumes you are producing at least reasonable leads/inquiries/MQLs.

With that in mind, here are the 25 reasons your leads aren’t converting:

  1. You’re passing them directly to the sales team without an intermediate step or two (i.e., lead development or lead nurturing).
  2. You don’t have dedicated resources (i.e., lead development or an inside sales team) connecting with and qualifying leads.
  3. You haven’t tried to optimize what the lead development team is doing to convert your leads.
  4. You aren’t leveraging scoring.
  5. You aren’t leveraging nurturing.
  6. You haven’t created a unified lead definition with the sales team (the term “unified lead definition” was coined by Brian Carroll @brianjcarroll).
  7. You don’t have an SLA with your sales reps for what they guarantee they will do when you pass them a qualified lead.
  8. Sales doesn’t care about you anymore and won’t follow up on anything you send.
  9. You’re considering the wrong metrics when looking for optimization.
  10. You don’t look at metrics at all.
  11. You look at too many metrics.
  12. You think your job is to get the most leads and the lowest CPL (cost per lead).  Right answer: your job is to create the highest conversion at the most efficient CPO (cost per opportunity).
  13. You don’t have “conversations”— optimization sessions with your lead vendors.
  14. You don’t have “conversations” — optimization sessions with the sales team.
  15. You dump leads from different sources into an identical lead development path (@cjablonski).
  16. Your shotgun marketing approach gives you a lot of quantity at the expense of quality (@cjablonski).
  17. Sales disqualifies leads because they deem the leads too early in the sales cycle (@cjablonski).
  18. Your value proposition is diluted, unreinforced, or at worst, forgotten as the prospect moves from inquiry through nurturing to sales follow-up (@cjablonski).
  19. Marketing has no process for filtering raw inquiries and disqualifying those that don’t fit (at least closely) the ideal customer profile (@cjablonski).
  20. Your sales team already has so many good leads on its plate, and sales reps would rather close those leads than sift through your mixed bag of suspects and prospects (@tlotl).
  21. Your leads are going to inbound contact-center sales reps, and answering the ringing phone is always more important than calling out on your Web-captured “handraiser” leads (@tlotl).
  22. Your leads were captured at a trade show two months ago and haven’t been nurtured or called since (@tlotl).
  23. The first 100 leads tagged with campaign code “XYZ” were unreachable, unqualified or not ready to talk to a sales rep, and now any lead tagged with that campaign code is effectively blacklisted in the sales team (@tlotl).
  24. You haven’t educated your leads with vendor-agnostic, third-party-sourced content that validates your solution in the marketplace (@tlotl).
  25. You’ve purchased a targeted list of contacts or names, didn’t market to them and delivered them to sales — under the (false) pretense that they are actually leads (@tlotl).
  26. Your leads are great leads, but they’re best suited for a product that your sales team is not properly trained, compensated or experienced enough to qualify. For example, your sales team is world class at selling a point solution, but you’ve delivered them (expensive) leads for a bundled offering (@tlotl).

Are there more?  We’d love to hear yours.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • GreggE

    Even with nurtured leads, a well trained team of qualification specialists and good leads going into the top of the funnel, if the sales team is not measured and incented to convert, they simply will not do it. Two more thoughts: 1. Sales reps are coin operated. If they are not compensated for thier behavior (i.e convertring), results will be difficult to predict and will be inconsistant. 2. Sales people are typically type A personalities and generally lack focus, therefore, will usually take the path of least resistance. In other words, if it is easier to create a new opportunity from scrath then it is to convert a lead, they will create from scratch, rather then dealing with longer processes or percived hassles of converting.

  • I agree with all twenty-six. Ultimately, a C-level executive must get involved with defining the target, lead definition, metrics and SLA’s (both marketing and sales). The article, “Why Your Sales Force Needs Fewer Leads” provides some additional advice: http://tinyurl.com/ydqru6k Great post and I was pleased to RT.

  • I advise my client to focus on demand generation NOT l;ead generation.

    The changing landscape of “Traditional lead generation” as it pertains to the IT market.

    A lot of marketing teams are under pressure to deliver volumes and volumes of leads and what seems to be happening is marketing teams are tempted to throw as many “leads” as they can to the sales team. IT vendors generally think more leads is better because it lowers the Cost Per Lead they have to pay and gives the sales team more activity.

    In fact in the long run it costs a lot more.

    On average a software company will spend between $40 – $75K in additional “qualification” costs for every 1000 “leads”. (Read: Trade show leads, Whitepaper downloads etc, etc)

    Alternatively, my recommendation for my clients is go where their buyers are and develop a demand generation program where you engage potential prospects throughout the whole decision making process. The clients who work from the outside in, tend to see much better results when focused on demand generation/opportunity creation as opposed to traditional leads gen.

    IT vendors need to become part of the internal system buyers have to deal with in order to make purchasing decisions that disrupt the status quo. The traditional lead generation and sales/marketing model today is not equipped to do that.

    This is not my opinion. ( My opinion is irrelevant) This is what 1 million IT buyers tell me.

    Kenny Madden

  • Jim R

    Gerat list of 26! Number 27 could be that we don’t take the long view and expect quick turn around of raw list to qualified leads when the process requires quite a bit of work (time) to truly call on qualified prospects. Compensation plans for lead gens generally focus on the desired end result only and does not consider the time required to make sure that your lead gen folks are working on a quality basis and not on a quantity basis. Taking the long view means taking a longer time to get processes set and for turn around of raw lists to qualified leads for your sales team.

    Jim Ricker

  • K.Thornton

    This is a great list! a couple of things I have seen:

    27. A gap exists between what marketing has told your vendor a truly qualified lead, and what your sales team deems a truly qualified lead. I’ve run into this often – marketing uses budget to outsource lead gen/lead nurturing and asks for a plethora of market intel data capture. Your vendor makes or takes calls, captures all of this intel – and simply offers a follow up or discovery call from a “Product Expert” “Solutions Specialist” (i.e. your sales team). Sales receives said leads, discovers there is no real need and they could have very well had a more successful cold call.

    28. You’re not building a relationship between your lead gen team, and your sales team – while this type of strategy needs to be executed carefully (sales teams can have enormous “wish lists”), fostering a healthy link between your lead generators (be they internal or outsourced) can go a long way.