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by John Bonini John Bonini on January 4, 2013

7 Warning Signs that You're Generating Unqualified Leads

January 4, 2013

unqualified leadsNumbers can often be misleading.

And when it comes to lead generation metrics, they often are. There's nothing that noticeably boosts the morale of your marketing team more than seeing a waterfall graph headed upwards in the right direction.

But as you've surely heard countless other times throughout your life; it's about quality. It's tough to take this approach in regards to your lead generation, as we're inclined to always value quantity, but it's the quality leads that have a real impact on business.

So how do you know if you're doing a good job in generating qualified leads? Too many companies have unclear buyer personas, and as a result, implement a weak plan for attracting what they think may be their target audience.

We spoke to industry experts as well as used our own experiences to develop a list of seven warning signs that you're generating unqualified leads.

The 7 Warning Signs of Unqualified Leads

7 Warning Signs that You're Generating Unqualified Leads

1. Short Calls

One of the most frustrating occurrences for a salesman is to spend time preparing for a call, only to realize very early on that it's a waste of time. Now obviously, it's unrealistic to expect to close 100% of the leads you get on the phone, however, we're talking about leads who should have never warranted a phone call in the first place.

This usually is no fault of the sales team. The marketing team is responsible for creating relevant content in line with company buyer personas in order to ensure you're appealing to the right audience. If you're not, you can expect to get many of these unqualified leads on the phone, resulting in many short calls. Reasons for short calls:

  • Lead is uneducated on your company
  • Lead is unsure of their need
  • Lead is still unsure on what you're offering
  • Your product/service isn't even close to their budget

In each of those four cases, the lead in unqualified. In order to deliver more qualified leads to your sales team, it's critical that your content strategy is built upon detailed, accurate buyer personas.

"The key step to generating qualified leads is to fully define your buyer personas," says Peter Caputa (@pc4media), Director of Channel Sales & Marketing at HubSpot. "Then, create content that will resonate with them at each step of their buying process. If you find that you're unable to connect 1:1 with your leads at the right rate, leads unsubscribe from your email lists at a high rate, or you're always attracting a low level influencer, you're not creating the right content. Step back, define personas and map your content and editorial calendar to the personas and their buying stages."

7 Warning Signs that You're Generating Unqualified Leads2. Resistance to Scheduling "Next Step"

Once you've made contact with a lead, generally the sales team works to move the process through follow-up emails and phone calls. If your leads are resisting to the next step in the sales process, it's due to an unbalanced relationship due to some level of friction regarding your product service, pricing, or their overall need.

Qualified leads, on the other hand, will be much more inclined to keep in contact, as they've clearly identified their need, as well as your company as a potential solution for that need. If you're receiving a lot of resistance in trying to get your leads to follow up, it's time to reexamine the kind of traffic your marketing content is attracting.

7 Warning Signs that You're Generating Unqualified Leads3. Severely Off-Budget

If your service costs $500, and your lead was only looking to spend no more than $75, there is a significant lack of communication in the agency/consumer relationship.

There should be a clearly-defined pricing page on your website that details what goes into the pricing, and what can be expected.

Afraid this is going to drive away some visitors? Good! This is the point, They're qualifying themselves so you don't even have to. If the goal is to drive only the most qualified of leads to your sales team, than this includes leads who are fully informed and in budget with your pricing.

7 Warning Signs that You're Generating Unqualified Leads

4. Not Attracting Decision Makers

Often times, the leads downloading your ebooks and engaging with your brand aren't the decision makers at their company. However, if your content is great and relevant, it won't be a hard sell to get their boss on the phone in order to work toward a sale.

However, there's still a portion of your leads that should be C-Level executives engaging with your content. It's a clear sign that your content is reaching the right people and is of high quality.

On the flip-side, if all you're generating are low-level influencers, there's a good chance the guys who make the decisions aren't being targeted, or simply don't find your content helpful.

Kevin Linehan (@kevlinehan), Channel Account Manager at HubSpot agrees that it's critical to spend your time on the phone with the right people. "As a sales person, it is imperative that you spend your time with the right people," says Linehan. "Your time selling is equally as important as the time you're asking for from the person on the other end of the phone or across the table. You cannot afford to spend time with an unqualified opportunity."

7 Warning Signs that You're Generating Unqualified Leads

5. Low Reconversion Rate

In order to effectively qualify leads, your marketing content needs to be pushing them further down the sales funnel through lead nurturing and marketing automation practices.

Lead reconversions allow leads to further qualify themselves as well as your company, effectively weeding out the unqualified leads from ones who will eventually become customers.

If you've noticed that your leads aren't reconverting and end engagement with your brand relatively quickly after downloading an offer, then your premium content is falling into the hands of the wrong consumer. We're not doubting the quality of your product or service, and neither are these leads.

Simply put, they don't have a need for you. A tell tale sign of qualified leads is a high instance of lead reconversions. Once again, it all boils down to you how well your marketing content is built around strong buyer personas.

7 Warning Signs that You're Generating Unqualified Leads

6. High Rate of Email Unsubscribes

If you're receiving a high percentage of email unsubscribes, an alarm should go off that the wrong people are on the receiving end of your content. Yet again, this all goes back to your buyer personas and if you've successfully built your content around them.

Unsubscribes are basically your leads unqualifying themselves. Sure it saves you time, but it still doesn't address the central issue that your content and overall marketing is not generating relevant, qualified leads.

7 Warning Signs that You're Generating Unqualified Leads

7. Minimal BoFu Conversions

Going back to the lead conversions, another telling sign that you're not generating a high volume of qualified leads is having minimal bottom-of-the-funnel leads. Not enough leads have been worked down the sales funnel.

This is either a lack of effort or poor execution on the part of your company, or more likely....the leads in your sales funnel simply aren't qualify-able.

Adds Linehan: "Generating qualified leads from inbound marketing gives you a head start in identifying where you should spend your time."

The Marketers Buyer Persona Kit
John Bonini

John Bonini

As the Marketing Director of IMPACT from 2013-May 2015, John was responsible for the overall marketing and branding strategy of the agency. He also wrote for the HubSpot Blog, Social Media Examiner, and Convince & Convert among others. In his free time, John enjoys playing guitar, high-fives, and anything with marinara sauce.

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