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10 Lead Generation Problems Costing You Millions

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You want more leads to grow your business and your wallet. Who doesn’t? But if you knew what was keeping you from getting the lead volume or lead quality you want, you’d remove those barriers. The unknown creates one burning question that’s keeping you up at night:

Why am I not getting the leads I want?

We’re going to answer that for you. We’ll walk you through common lead generation problems that are costing small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) millions of dollars a year, and give you solutions to begin fixing these problems today.

Let’s set some lead generation expectations.

1. There’s no silver bullet.

There’s no single “growth hack” or magic wand you can use to bring in exponentially more leads and revenue overnight. That’s not how it works.

But there are sales and marketing principles you can use to create more demand for your business and generate the leads you want. Lead generation is not a single tactic or strategy, but the result of implementing several quality tactics and strategies.

PC: WordStream

2. B2B is different from B2C, but...

Business-to-business (B2B) marketing is inherently different from business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing. You’re dealing with different buying timelines, different personality traits, needs vs. wants, but the problems keeping you from getting leads are roughly the same for both.

PC: The Balance

3. Focus on the problems, not the symptoms.

Companies who address their lead generation problems typically focus on the symptoms instead of on the underlying sickness causing the problems. Common symptoms include:

  • The leads are too expensive
  • Low lead-to-sale conversion rates
  • Blaming problems on a lack of budget
  • Sales, marketing, and service teams are at odds

We’re going to dive below the surface to help you solve your real problems, so these symptoms all become non-issues.

Problem #1: You’re capturing contacts, not leads.

This—lead quality—is consistently the biggest challenge marketers face, but here’s the disconnect. A lead is someone who engages you or your brand with intent to buy. A contact is anyone who gives you some information.

Contacts are people who:

  • Subscribe to your blog
  • Download an ebook
  • Follow you on social media
  • Share contact info through Facebook or LinkedIn ads
  • Enter to win a free giveaway
  • Click Submit on your interactive content (like quizzes and surveys)

They want something from you, but they don’t want to buy. In contrast, leads are people who:

  • Give you their contact info in exchange for a coupon that only applies to same-day purchases
  • Asks you for an estimate or appointment
  • Give you detailed info to access gated content (like product demos and consultations)

You can turn a contact into a lead through lead nurturing, qualifying conversations, and a few other methods. But it’s typically a better use of time and resources to cut that entire section of your funnel.

Instead, have people give you all the qualifying information you need before letting them into your funnel and considering them a lead.

Retailers should ask for name, email, and phone number. Professional services providers should ask for marital status and income, in addition to contact details. A B2B brand should ask for company name or website, industry, and employee size or revenue range.

PC: Marketing Charts

Problem #2: You’re ignoring your data.

Gathering data is one challenge, analyzing it is another, and implementing changes based on data is a third.

It’s genuinely tough, because you and everyone else on your team are so constantly busy that no one pauses the treadmill long enough to look at how you can do something better. But that’s a trap.

If stupidity is doing the same thing every day and expecting different results, well… you need to find time to analyze and act on your data. The good news is any online tool gives you at least some data to work with:

  • Calendars - How many appointments keep, cancel, no-show?
  • Website Analytics - How many viewers do you get? Who converts?
  • Text and Email Services - How many messages get replies?

Even if you aren’t given formal reports, you can still count the items. Then compare your results to industry benchmarks (a Google search or two will likely bring up what you need), and ask: “Am I happy with these results, or do I need better?”

PC: Unbounce

We’ll work through several things you can do to build off your data below, but the most important solution is to formalize an action plan. For example:

At the end of every quarter I will take 1 day to comb through our data. My team and I will spend 1 week deciding what, if anything, we need to do to improve. We will implement, publish, or enact that change by the end of the quarter’s first month. Repeat.

Even though we’re a tech company talking about data, the solution here is good ol’ fashioned discipline—stick to your plan to analyze and improve.

Problem #3: There’s a disconnect between you and the customers you’re targeting.

Could you pick your target customer out of a line-up? How well do you really know the people you’re trying to turn into leads and customers?

74% of consumers say they’re frustrated by irrelevant marketing, which is terrible for everyone because about 50% of all marketing is irrelevant (or targeting the wrong people at the wrong times with the wrong messages).

Too many businesses think everyone is a customer. They go general in their sales and marketing, because they’re trying to appeal to everyone. That’s a mistake.

Instead, pick one type of person and get to know them. Who are they, what problems are they trying to solve, what are their demographics, and what do they care about?

Create a profile for your ideal customers (the ones who are going to see the most value from what you offer, and who are willing to pay for it). Then talk to these customers again and again and again to find out everything about them (related to your business).

When your sales, marketing, product, and service teams all thoroughly understand who you’re targeting, your messaging, ads, sales conversations, other communications, and even what you offer will adapt to take care of your target customers.

You’ll be able to serve them better, talk to them on their terms, and easily begin turning more of them into leads. You’ll also naturally earn more reviews and referrals.

Related: How to Create (& Target) Custom Buyer Personas

Problem #4: You need more supporting materials.

A lead is someone who says “I am interested in talking to you about buying.” But that’s all a lead is—interest. You could earn a million leads a day and it wouldn’t matter unless you can move them to the next stage of your funnel. No one takes the next step without motivation, so what are you doing to motivate your leads?

Supporting materials—case studies, ebooks and whitepapers, ROI examples, online reviews, and videos—give you excuses to reach out to leads to show what you can do for them. While you’re at it, you can see what questions they have, or if they are ready to take the next step in the process of purchasing.

80% of leads convert after five or more follow-ups, but following up repeatedly with nothing new is like a child saying “Mom… Mom…” over and over. It quickly becomes annoying instead of helpful.

So get with your marketing, sales, and service teams. Which customers have seen success? How can you turn those success stories into high value content to share with leads? How much time will it take to create that content, and do you need any new tools to do it?

Now go make it happen!

Problem #5: Your marketing is generic.

Treating a potential lead or prospect like everyone else makes them feel like everyone else—unimportant.

You need to treat each prospect like the unique and valuable person they are, if you want them to work with you. How?

By using messaging in your website, text messages, and other materials that speaks directly to your target buyer persona and their needs (see Problem #4). But you also need to take it a step farther.

91% of consumers say personalization makes them more likely to buy, and 72% have come to expect personalization from brands and businesses. So what is “personalization”?

Personalization is tailoring future experiences based on previous interactions. For instance, you’ve probably bought something from Amazon, then received an email saying, “Thanks for buying [this], you might also like [these similar items].”

Or you’ve been browsing for clothes on some website, only to see ads for those exact items on Facebook or some other website. This is personalization—tailoring future experiences based on past interactions.

It also applies to content. When someone subscribes to your blog or downloads an ebook, personalization will have you sending that subscriber content related to the article or ebook from which they subscribed, instead of just sharing everything new from your company.

In advertising, this can translate to showing people similar ads to the ones they've previously clicked on.

When used properly, personalization will turn online window shoppers from people who just stumbled across you, to leads who come back and ask about buying from you. In fact, marketers see an average revenue increase of 15% and an average decrease in cost to acquire a customer of 50%!

Problem #6: Your brand doesn’t stand out.

Everyone wants to work with the popular guy (or gal), but what makes a company popular? In a word, success.

  • How’s your revenue?
  • Do employees love working for you?
  • Do customers tell others about you?
  • Does the media give you attention?
  • What do you do to stand out?

Questions like these are what prospects use to decide if they want to work with you or someone else. But basic statistics show most SMBs fall into the middle of the pack. So how do you become the life of the party?

The easiest way is to throw your own party. Do things for attention, then invite your customers, the media, and people you want to work with.

Throw educational and social events around town. An annual conference, even if it's a 1-day small event, is a great opportunity to earn attention and generate leads. The same goes for a webinar.

Hosting or sponsoring After Hours events is also an inexpensive and low effort way to literally become the life of the party.

Whenever your business hits a milestone—customer count, revenue record, anniversary, etc.—write a quick summary of what you did and why it matters (100 words is good). Then pitch it to all of your local media.

When your customers see success, turn that into a story (like a case study, blog post, or online reviews) and then promote your customer for all the success they’re having.

Find reasons to celebrate, then do it, and invite others to your party. You’ll generate demand for your business, and from there you just need to make sure you’re set up to capture that demand.

PC: Marketing Charts

Problem #7: Prospects don’t trust you.

Have you ever woken up thinking, “Today, I want to get burned. I want someone to let me down?"

Absolutely not.

But you’ve probably spent a lot of time doing the opposite, looking for ways to protect you, your family, and your company. The leads you want are doing the same thing, even if they know they need the products and services you offer.

They have to make sure they won’t be burned by you, that they’ll have a good experience working with you, and that they can trust you. So what can you do to build trust?

It takes more than a smile and a promise. Prospects have to know that others trust you, and that prospects who’ve come before them have had good experiences. That’s why using “Trust Signals” throughout your website and all your sales and marketing is so important.

Trust Signals include:

  • Online reviews
  • Case studies
  • Testimonial videos
  • Social media posts about and from your happy customers
  • Positive press
  • Recognizable customer logos
  • How many followers you have
  • How active you are online
  • The quality of the content you share

The solution to building trust is to put your happy customers to work. Ask them to leave you reviews. Do a case study with them. Encourage them to talk about you. You may need to offer something in return, like promoting their company online or an Amazon gift card, but you’ll earn back far more than what you spend.

A byproduct of building trust signals is you’ll earn more referrals, but the main benefit is a higher percentage of the people you’re already targeting will convert into leads and customers. They research you before they commit, and with Trust Signals in place, they’ll feel comfortable—even excited—to say “yes.”

Problem #8: You aren’t giving anyone a reason to become a lead.

If you build it, they will not come. Even if you think your product is an easy purchase, everyone else still needs to be persuaded. The trouble is potential leads aren’t waiting around for you to tell them what to do. So how do you reach them?

Your ads, your website, and all your sales and marketing materials need to point your targeted customers toward a single call-to-action.

Every business has an ideal “conversion tool”—an action you know will result in a high percentage of converted leads. For most businesses, the conversion is one of three things:

  • Inbound phone calls (call for info)
  • A free trial, consultation, or package (try us for free before committing)
  • A product demo or appointment (book a time with us)

You'll notice the conversion tool for Text Request is a demo. Our website, texts, emails, and ads all prompt people to schedule a demo. We want you to see Text Request in action, because we know that when you see it, you’ll understand that it can solve your problems and drive revenue.

We give viewers options to contact us, because different people have different preferences, but the goal is a demo. You need the same—a promise to solve your target customers’ problems (value proposition) with a consistent and easy next step for them to take you up on that promise (call-to-action).

Apply that to all your ads and channels, and you’ll begin generating more leads. They’ll likely be higher quality leads, too.

Problem #9: You aren’t where your customers are.

Facebook may be the largest social media platform, but if your target customers aren’t spending much time on it, advertising or building a following on Facebook is a waste of resources.

Industry association conferences may be the highlight of the year, where all the execs come out to play (and learn), but if the customers you work with directly are middle managers who don’t show up to these events, then they’re a waste.

Google may be the biggest search engine, but if your potential customers are reading reviews about you on Angie’s List or Capterra, you’re better off focusing your reviews where customers spend time reading them.

Businesses who generate the most and best leads understand their targets thoroughly, including where they spend their time.

Forget whatever’s popular with the general public. Find the forums, events, advertising channels, newsletters, and other places where your specific target customers spend their time. Advertise, build relationships, and position your business as a leader in those places.

It will take time to build clout in these places, but the leads and referrals will come pouring in once you do.

Problem #10: You have no replicable follow-up process.

What happens once you’ve generated a lead? There are only two options: they either convert into a paying customer, or they disappear.

One is incredibly valuable, and the other is incredibly costly. Only ⅓ of leads are ready to purchase when they reach out, and most of them are also vetting other businesses. The only way you’ll stand a chance at converting leads and driving revenue (which is why you’re here) is by sticking to a solid follow-up process.

You can automate it or do it manually—whatever you want, just make sure it happens. A great follow-up process typically looks like this:

  • Immediate confirmation / response that you got the lead’s request
  • A personal follow-up within 30 minutes, or as soon as business hours are open (texts get the best response rates)
  • Have the qualifying conversation (demo, phone call, answer questions, etc.)
  • Follow-up within 24 hours with helpful content (see Problem #4)
  • Follow-up around 10 times through various communication channels on a timeline that fits the conversations you’ve had with the prospect, until you get a "Yes" or "No"
  • If you get a "No," circle back monthly with a promotion, new content, or just to touch base

Deals are won or lost in the follow-up. The more helpful and efficient you can be, the better.

Now what?

Solving each of these problems using the tips and research above will get you 90% of the way to being a lead generation mastermind. The other 10% comes from constantly refining your work.

Depending on where you are in your lead generation process, tackling all of this can seem overwhelming. That’s okay. Just take one problem—the one that hits closest to home—and address it first. Then take the next, and so on.

To help, we’ve even created this Lead Generation Power Play, a free ebook that gives you additional tactics to generate more leads. Get your free copy below!