One of the biggest complaints I hear from businesses using digital marketing is that they’re getting low quality leads.  I actually hear much more colorful descriptions, but we’ll use “low quality” for the purposes of this article. :)

In other words, the leads they’re getting are not converting to sales.  When this happens, then the first inclination is to point fingers at the lead quality.  I catch myself doing this as well.  Hey, it can’t possibly be my fault the deals aren’t closing! The leads are simply not good enough.

Sound familiar?

If you’ve ever had similar thoughts, then this article is for you.  I’m going to explain why lead quality is likely not the root cause of your sales struggles.  First, let’s address one of the key reasons why businesses get so frustrated with their leads in the first place.

lead generation


Sales Cycles for Referrals vs. All Other Marketing

Often when I hear businesses complaining about their lead quality I later find they are comparing the leads from their digital marketing to their leads from referrals.  This is simply not a fair comparison.

It’s like the difference between hitting in a game of T-ball vs. hitting against a pitcher.  In T-ball, the ball is standing still on a tee so it’s very easy to make contact with the ball.  In real baseball, you have to make contact with a moving ball thrown from a pitcher at various speeds and angles. Clearly, T-ball is easier.

The same is true with referrals.  Those are essentially “tee’d up” leads.  Nearly every other type of marketing generates leads that are not so easy to close and will likely have much longer sales cycles. That doesn’t mean the leads are better or worse.  It just means you need to adjust your sales expectations with non-referral leads.


Who Really Makes the Sale?

Next, I want to challenge the idea that you or your sales team “make sales.”  We like to think we sell and close deals, but the reality is that your leads make the decision only once the timing is right.  In other words, you can’t force sales.

The best sales tactics in the world are useless if the timing is not right for your lead.  Just think about how many times you have reached out to a business to learn more about their products or services, knowing full well that you were not quite ready to buy.  You were likely just doing research so you had all the information ready for later.  Or, how about those times when you talked to a sales person thinking you were just about to make a purchase, but then something in your situation changed so that you were no longer in a position to buy?

Again, the best sales people in world aren’t going to close the deal in those situations.

So what have we learned up to this point?

  1. Leads from digital marketing will likely have a longer sales cycle than what you’re used to with referrals.  
  2. There’s not too much we can do from a sales perspective to cut down on the longer sales cycle.  The reality is that your leads must be ready to buy.

So what does this mean?


You Need a Lead Nurturing System

Many businesses blame the lead quality when in fact the root cause of their sales problem is they lack a lead nurturing system.

Here’s what happens when you do not have a lead nurturing system:

  1. Leads contact your business interested in your products or services
  2. You or your sales team try to sell
  3. Only a small percentage turn into sales right away
  4. The rest of the leads (the vast majority!) are labeled “dead” and thrown away

Did you catch that? The vast majority of the leads that you’re generating from marketing will be thrown away if you do not have a lead nurturing system in your business.  That’s like buying some ears of corn and corn seeds and then throwing away the seeds because they weren’t fully developed ears of corn after a week or two!


What Is a Lead Nurturing System?

The most basic lead nurturing system is an email newsletter.  That’s right, a basic email newsletter is all you need to nurture your leads until they are ready to make a purchase.  When done correctly, your newsletter will keep your leads engaged so your business stays top of mind.

That’s the secret.  As I mentioned above, we don’t decide when leads are ready to buy.  So our best option is to consistently follow up, educate, and build a relationship with our leads so that we’re the first business that comes to mind when the timing is right.  And an email newsletter is one of the easiest and cheapest options for nurturing leads.

I know it sounds too simple to be true, but trust me, if you’re not using an email newsletter, then you’re losing sales.  It’s that simple.  Even worse, you’re losing sales from leads you already paid for in marketing costs.  You’re buying leads, then throwing some away just because they aren’t ready to buy right now.  When you think about it like that, then it sounds a bit foolish right?