​​​​​​​Beware:  Too many leads!

I know this may be heresy to almost every marketer and sales person on the planet, but I’ll just say it:  it’s possible to have too many leads.

Lots of the effort to generate new leads – those programs, events, campaigns and incentives we’ve got in place to build more visibility, drive more traffic, and gather more names - might just be a waste of time and money.

How can that be? 

Suspects, not prospects

One explanation: some of our lead generation efforts are attracting suspects, not prospects.  The people who find their way to our website, visit our booth, or open our emails aren’t the people our solution is built for.  They mistakenly think we can help them… but we can’t.

So, we spend more time and money following up with these folks – even having a sales rep call them - only to find out they’re a bad fit.  Chasing these bad leads doesn’t make us money; it costs us money. (See “Bad leads cost you money”)

The wrong kind of follow up

Another source of waste:  the leads get squandered.

A prospective customer finds out about our solution, and they raise their hand to indicate they’re interested.  But we respond in all the wrong ways.

Sometimes, the prospect never hears from us.  We’re so swamped with inbound inquiries, we can’t get back to them. 

Or we get back to them six weeks later, by which time they’ve forgotten why they ever contacted us.

Almost as bad, the prospect hears back from us, but we say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Often, they’re just beginning their evaluation, gathering basic information, and looking to educate themselves, but we’re chasing them to do a demo and close a deal. 

In either case – whether we ignore them or say the wrong thing - the prospect goes away.

Clarify the messages

When the wrong people find us - leads that will never turn into customers - often it’s because the prospect doesn’t understand our solution.  They can’t decipher our basic value proposition, and they’re confused about what we sell, who should buy it, and what problems we solve.  (See “Do your customers know what you sell?”)

If we describe our solution in techno-speak and blather on about “our unique, robust, industry-leading, real-time, AI-enabled, something, something platform,” it’s no wonder that the wrong people find us. 

Even worse, if our message is unclear, not only do the wrong people find us, but the right people don’t. Those who really could use our solution won’t figure that out.

It’s a double whammy:  Bad leads find us, and good leads don’t.

Look at the entire journey

By fixating on collecting leads, leads, and more leads, we might overlook what happens next in the process.  Once we’ve captured a lead, then what? 

When prospects evaluate most enterprise solutions, they move through several steps from lead to qualified prospect to paying customer.  And for software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, there are renewal and retention steps too.

Our customer acquisition process needs to follow along with each step.  If not, leads get stuck: 

  • We drive traffic to the website with SEO and PPC campaigns, but we don’t collect contact information, or,
  • We collect contact information, but have no mechanism to follow up, or,
  • We do follow up, but not with the kind of material the person is looking for, or,
  • We sign up a customer, but we don’t market to them to ensure they renew or buy more.

We need to build a customer acquisition process that spans the entire journey.  Generating leads is only the first step.