Why Your B2B Sales Lead Generation ROI Is So Low

13 min read
Mar 24, 2022

B2B sales lead generation is easy, right? Finding high-quality leads in little time and driving them into the sales pipeline is easy, right?

Wrong! That is, according to most sales reps. Recent surveys reveal that 61% of salespeople say that lead generation is the hardest step in the sales process.

However, what if I told you that the reason why generating leads is so hard for most sales pros is because of minor errors that are making all the difference?

To prove it, we’re sharing why your B2B sales lead generation ROI is so low! Additionally, we’re also sharing:

  1. Why small errors make all the difference;
  2. Tactics to simply increase your ROI; and
  3. How to refine the rest of your selling process

Converting new leads into paying customers shouldn’t burn through all of your energy and resources. More than that, going all-in only to unsuccessfully convert leads shouldn’t be so common.

That said, here’s why your lead gen ROI is so low and how to turn things around to close more deals in less time.

 

How to Generate B2B Sales Leads

 

First things first: How do you start siphoning high-quality leads into the sales pipeline?

For starters, before you even do any cold outreach or develop an inbound marketing plan, create an:

  1. Ideal prospect profile (IPP)
  2. Ideal buyer persona (IBP)

To begin with, an IPP is a literal caricature of who an ideal B2B company in your target audience is. Imagine that the ideal B2B company is a person. If they were a person, what would they be like? What about this company makes them an ideal fit for you?

Additionally, an IBP is a caricature of the decision-makers at your ideal B2B company. Consider the values and beliefs of the decision-makers; Will their values and beliefs align with those of your company? What about their personality makes them connect with you?

Second, get together with your B2B marketing team to develop an inbound marketing strategy. Consider:

  1. What kind of inbound marketing channels make the most sense for your company- White papers, social media, SEO, etc;
  2. What kind of marketing content will add value to your potential customer’s buying experience;
  3. How to use marketing campaigns to build trust and establish brand identity.

Lastly, get with your sales team and put together a solid cold outreach lead generation process. Put together a plan for:

  1. Which cold outreach strategies make the most sense or should take top priority (cold calling, cold emailing, social media, etc.);
  2. What the rest of the sales process will look like after lead gen; and
  3. Who will manage each part of the process?

Most importantly, don’t overcomplicate lead gen or any other step in the process!

Overcomplicating things is what forces you to jump through hoops. Because lead gen is the first step of the process, overcomplicating it sets the stage for an overall disastrous process.

 

How to generate B2B sales leads

 

Here’s Why Your B2B Lead Generation Strategy Isn’t Working!

 

Lead generation is a make-or-break step in the selling process. Unless you nail things right off the bat during lead gen, then making up for those losses later on in the sales process will prove nothing short of challenging.

But again, the good news is that upping those lead gen conversion rates is a matter of making simple changes.

All that said, here’s why your current lead gen ROI is so low and exactly what you need to do to start getting more leads into the pipeline.

 

1. Not Having a Repeatable Process

 

To begin with, would you believe me if I told you that many B2B businesses don’t have a repeatable lead gen process? Not only that, but they don’t have a repeatable sales process in general!

As a result, they completely wing lead gen altogether! Hard to believe that they wonder why they’re not getting better results...

That said, the primary reason why B2B companies struggle with lead gen is that they have little to no process. With no process, sales teams are left to their own devices, unsure of what to do.

Thankfully, the easy solution to this challenge is by putting together a straightforward solid lead gen process, and overall sales process.

When you’re prepared with a repeatable process, you and your sales team members are ready to take on any challenge that leads might throw at you!

Think of it just how you would think about studying for a test: The more prepared you are, the more confident you walk into the room, and the obviously better you perform.

 

2. Quantity Over Quality Leads

 

To put it simply: Lead gen isn’t a numbers game. It’s not a quantity game, but a quality game!

To siphon as many potential customers into the pipeline, many sales teams add as many potential leads to their cold outreach list as they can generate. As a result, they spend an absurd amount of time connecting with leads only to lose them very early on in the process.

Had they simply not let their ego take over by focusing on the right type of lead, then they wouldn’t be in that position.

From now on, instead of focusing on as many new customers as you can find, focus on as many ideal customers as you can find. Moreover, go from playing a numbers game to a game of quality.

Here’s what you need to do to start focusing on quality leads versus sheer quantity:

 

Is the Lead Really a Qualified Lead?

 

Serious question here: Are you honestly qualifying your leads before you’re connecting with them? More specifically, are you assessing whether or not they fit your IPP and IBP?

Or are you just shooting in the dark by compiling a list of as many potential customers as possible, and then going ham on outreach not even knowing anything about the lead?

While many B2B salespeople like to tell themselves that they’re focusing solely on qualified leads, the hard truth is that many just wing it! In an effort to funnel as many prospects into the pipeline, they’re simply focused on numbers, numbers, numbers.

And even though they know it’s wrong and will lead to many leads either going unresponsive, giving them a flat-out “no”, or falling out of the pipeline shortly after the first contact, they still do it because the numbers game is too compelling.

Don’t waste your time on leads who you know aren’t qualified in the least bit. In the end, you’ll only waste time and see an exceedingly low ROI. Don’t let numbers impress you that much.

 

Who Are the Decision-Makers?

 

Remember, unlike B2C sales in which you might interact with a customer for a minute or two and then never see them again, B2B customer relationships are for the long-haul! Just because you close a deal on a B2B company doesn’t mean that the work is over. In fact, it’s just getting started!

That said, make sure that you’re qualifying the decision-makers at your target B2B companies just as much as you are the company itself. The reason being, you’re going to be working with the decision-makers for a long time, so you must know whether or not they’re a good fit for you.

Unfortunately, many sales reps spend zero to no time digging into the decision-makers. More specifically, they spend approximately zero time trying to understand them, their values, and their ultimate goals.

As a result, they either fail to close a deal on them, or close a deal and then have a terrible relationship as they don’t understand them at all.

To up your lead gen ROI and lay the foundation for a solid customer relationship, be sure to qualify your decision-makers and nuzzle up to them a bit.

 

Are You Asking for Referrals?

 

What if there was a way to easily generate sales leads who are already highly qualified?

Turns out, there’s a simple way to do that, and that way is asking for referrals from your existing customer base.

If you have solid relationships with your current customers, then asking them for referrals is a piece of cake!

Again, customer relationships are about an equal exchange in value between you and your customers. So, if you’re holding up your end of the bargain, then customers should have no problem handing over referrals. In fact, they’ll probably be more than happy to refer you to someone who they believe needs your help.

If there was ever a way to “cheat” the lead gen process to generate more high-quality leads in less time and with little effort, it’s getting referrals!

 

Focus on Hot and Warm Leads First

 

Let’s say that you’ve got a list of leads who you’re ready to start cold calling and emailing. Then, you start thinking to yourself, “Who should I connect with first?

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Categorize your leads as either hot, warm, or cold; and
  2. Start connecting with hot and warm leads first, then move on to cold leads

First off, hot leads are leads whom you already have an established connection with. For example, perhaps the lead is a referral or they’re a part of your networking group. Moreover, these are individuals who you probably have a direct phone number for.

Second, warm leads are leads whom you have at least some connection with. For example, you may have connected with them in the past about working together before. These are leads who you have some personal connection to, but might not know on a personal level.

Lastly, cold leads are leads who fit your IPP and IBP but you’ve never made contact with them before. Basically, you’re going in cold turkey!

To make the most of your time and up your ROI, focus on warm and hot leads before cold leads!

 

How to generate leads in sales

 

3. The Wrong Outbound Sales Approach

 

Would you believe me if I told you that almost 50% of sales professionals are afraid to make cold calls?

While it’s hard to believe, it explains so much about why sales reps consistently fail to generate leads through cold calls.

Why?

Because fear and confidence cannot coexist. When a salesperson is overcome with fear and subsequently crushes their confidence:

  1. They become less assertive; and
  2. Their potential customers lose confidence in them.

First off, assertiveness is essential for outbound outreach success. When you’re assertive, you become an expert in the lead’s eyes! And when you’re seen as an expert, then the last thing they’ll do is fall out of the sales pipeline.

Second, fear and low confidence are pervasive. Whether you know it or not, you radiate low-grade energy when you’re feeling overwhelmed with fear. As a result, that energy will penetrate customers and they’ll suddenly start to lose confidence in you.

Without exuding confidence in your sales approach, you’ll never up your ROI!

 

You’re Using the Wrong Cold Outreach Techniques

 

What if there was a way you could exude confidence through your cold outreach techniques? More specifically, what if your cold outreach techniques were assertive in themselves?

Turn’s out there is a way: It’s the one-minute cold outreach technique that works for cold calling and emailing.

The secret to this tactic is that it forces leads to look at you directly in the eye. As a result, it gets significantly more difficult for them to ignore you!

Stop simply making a boring call or sending a basic email. Instead, be assertive by using the can’t-fail, one-minute cold outreach technique.

 

Follow-Up, Follow-Up, Follow-Up

 

Many salespeople seem to forget that leads are normal human beings. They forget that, just like them, that leads:

  1. Have a lot of work to do;
  2. Probably don’t check their phone or email every 5 minutes; and
  3. Spend a lot of time feeling overwhelmed with problems.

Moreover, salespeople forget that B2B leads also have more than enough work to do each day. Because they forget, they get really frustrated when leads don’t immediately answer or respond within a short period. Even worse, they sometimes start to doubt themselves.

Sound familiar?

If so, don’t forget that B2B leads are just like you: They show up to work every day with an already full plate!

Therefore, if they’re not immediately getting back to your initial message, there’s no need to panic. More likely than not, they’re not ignoring you, they’re just busy.

That said, if you don’t hear back within 24 hours of your initial cold outreach attempt, immediately send a follow-up. Then if you don’t hear back within 12 hours, send a second follow-up!

If you think you’re annoying prospects by hounding them with messages, just remember that if you really are annoying them that they’ll tell you.

Remember, you’re trying to help prospects solve a critical business problem, so there’s no shame in consistent follow-up. If you were in your potential customer’s shoes, wouldn’t you want someone to help you fix your unknown problems and be happy that they didn’t give up on you?

 

Go Direct With Warm & Hot Leads

 

In sales and life, you should never let great resources go to waste, especially when it comes to lead gen.

That said, if you have a warm or hot lead’s phone number, then what the heck are you doing emailing or messaging them on social media? Make the dang phone call, and then send the text message if they don’t answer!

Warm and hot leads are your best bet, so don’t let your resources go to waste!

 

Hyping-Up Urgency

 

What makes you think a prospect will respond to your email or phone call unless they think that something is at stake if they don’t respond?

That’s like saying people are likely to go out of their way to put effort into something just for fun!

In short, leads won’t respond unless you create an urgent situation.

To do that, your initial outreach attempt should point towards the prospect’s pain point. By doing so, prospects will feel a sense of urgency that you’re uncovering an issue that they’ve been dealing with.

B2B leads have no time to waste! Give them a reason to want to talk to you by lighting a sense of urgency.

 

4. A Shoddy Inbound Marketing Strategy

 

When it comes to their inbound marketing strategy, so many sales teams shoot themselves in the foot.

Instead of putting together a solid strategy and then curating the right inbound marketing content, they simply throw tons of content out in the abyss thinking that it’ll serve them well.

Just like how focusing on the sheer number of leads over the quality of leads in your pipeline can lead to disaster, so can focusing on the amount of content marketing you put out versus the quality of it!

If you want to increase your lead gen ROI, then your inbound marketing content should accomplish a few things, including:

  1. Sending a clear message about your company’s identity;
  2. Aligning with your leads' values; and
  3. Adding value to the lead’s buyer’s journey.

From now on, generate high-quality content that checks these three boxes versus playing the numbers game. When it comes to marketing, quality trumps quantity!

 

Sending a Clear Message

 

Leads want to buy from people, not from companies. Therefore, instead of thinking of your company as a stone-cold business, think of it as if it was a person with its own identity!

Seriously ask yourself if your company was a person:

  1. What would it say?
  2. What would it value?
  3. How would it express itself?

By answering these questions, you’re developing a clear brand message. Once you know what that brand message is, then it’s your job to implicate it throughout your marketing content!

Additionally, your company’s brand message should mirror that of your lead’s brand message. By mirroring the lead’s message, you’re essentially affirming it. By affirming it, they feel a sense of comfort.

 

Adding Immediate Value

 

There is no such thing as something for nothing. You can’t expect leads to give you their attention without offering anything in return! That includes when it comes to your inbound marketing strategy.

You might be thinking to yourself, “How do I add value to my potential customer’s life when they’re not even my customer yet?

Simple! Curate marketing content that guides leads through their buying process.

For example, put case studies on your website featuring some of your best customer success stories. Or, post regular podcasts with your team members that entertain or instruct.

Also, consider hyping leads up on your own personal LinkedIn page! For example, share your current customer’s content and then take a lead in the post. By doing so, the lead will see that you genuinely care about your customer’s success.

Asking leads to give up their time for a sales pitch without adding any immediate value is like going to a restaurant and eating a pizza but then saying that you don’t want to pay!

 

How to increase B2B sales

 

5. An Uninspiring Lead Gen Experience

 

The business-to-business buying experience isn’t supposed to be miserable. Yet, many sales reps do anything but foster a positive buying experience, particularly during lead generation.

Instead of showing prospects a good time, they make their experience miserable by:

  1. Not genuinely engaging with prospects;
  2. Making lead gen all about themselves instead of the lead; and
  3. Making the process longer and more complex than necessary

What part of this makes you think that a lead would want to work with you?

If you initiate the sales process with an uninspiring or downright hasty lead gen phase, then prospects will see little to no reason to work with you. Regardless of how great of a fit you are for one another, they’ll be heading for the door.

 

Elongating the Sales Cycle

 

Finally, the easiest way to put a total damper on the lead gen process–and quite frankly the entire sales cycle–is by making it way longer and more complex than it needs to be.

What about a long process makes things so terrible?

Think about it like this: If you were in your prospect’s shoes, would you want your time wasted? Wouldn’t you want to uncover the root of your pain point and then come up with a solution for it in as little time as possible? Of course!

Therefore, stop wasting everybody’s time by keeping things short and sweet. The longer the process, the sooner prospects will be looking for a way out.

 

Final Thoughts on Low Sales Lead Generation ROI

 

The good news is that increasing your lead gen ROI is a matter of making simple changes. No more feeling like you’re at the constant mercy of your leads; it’s time to make the changes to take control of the selling process to convert more leads and make a bigger difference!

Remember, sales success is central to business success, because the more sales you make in less time, the sooner you manifest your business vision.

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