5 Reasons Why You’re Getting Bad Leads

Let’s talk about leads. Odds are, you’re having conversations about how to attract more leads, how to improve the quality of your leads, how to convert your leads, or all of the above. And in that conversation you might be wondering, “why are we getting bad leads in the first place?” 

According to recent research by Hubspot, only 7% of salespeople consider leads received from marketing as “very high quality” and 23% of salespeople said the thing they need most from their marketing team is “better quality leads”.

When marketing isn’t producing high quality leads, the sales team will go and find leads themselves, distracting them from selling, wasting valuable time and resources, and worst of all, sending mixed (and potentially counterproductive) messages to prospects.

We believe there are five main reasons that marketing teams are generating “bad” leads. To understand why it’s happening to you, you need to take into consideration the full buyer journey, starting with how to define a lead and evaluating how your lead management framework maintains sustainable lead sourcing, nurturing and conversion. 

Explore the five reasons below to identify areas of improvement in your lead management process: 

Your Marketing and Sales Teams Are Misaligned

Navigating the relationship between marketing and sales can be nuanced, especially when you take into consideration variances in lead hand-off processes across industries. But strategically integrating marketing and sales processes can have a significant impact on lead quality. By clearly defining what defines a ‘good’ lead, there’s increased potential to avoid miscommunication between teams and alleviate stress to the pipeline. 

Knowing the difference between a lead and a qualified lead is where most companies fall short. Marketing and sales should collaborate to determine tipping points from lead to qualified lead over the course of a complete buyer journey. At ANNUITAS, we work with our clients to look at several areas when determining the definition of a qualified lead. By tracking if a lead has sustained engagement, if they are the right persona from the right type of company, and if they have signaled lower funnel behavior, you can build a comprehensive scoring model that weights each interaction and moves the lead through different lead qualification stages. Once a lead has a score high enough to reach a Qualified Lead stage, then he or she is passed to sales for follow up. This practice is discussed in more detail in the ‘Your Lead Management Strategy is Weak’ section of this post.

The key to success when defining all of the above, is that both sales and marketing need to work together to define the criteria and actions that indicate intent. When both teams can agree, then there is no gray area for a “good” versus a “bad” lead – either the lead has met the criteria to move forward to a Qualified Lead stage or it hasn’t.

You Don’t Understand Your Customer’s Journey

A statistic from Accenture Interactive shows 82% of demand marketing is ‘wrong place, wrong time,’ which means that 82% of demand marketing is not orchestrated around the customer journey. We’ve seen this statistic play out in real life. In a recent ANNUITAS webinar, a poll was taken on the question, ‘What is your top challenge today?’ 74.1% of the participants identified their top challenge as the need to improve/personalize the customer experience. In order to understand your buyers and how they want to engage, framing an interactive customer journey is crucial. 

At ANNUITAS, we start with basic industry research on topics like macro trends, buyer pain points, content consumption, as well as better understanding the client’s change management method, lead conversion, and decision-making process (you can read more about the insights gathering process in the blog post, The Anatomy of a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan: Part 2). From the insights gathered, we take that information and transform it to a three-step buyer journey that, at a high level, transitions from ‘engage’ to ‘nurture’ to ‘convert’. 

From a top-funnel to bottom-funnel approach, the first step to ‘engage’ correlates with early stage content that attracts a wide audience by touching on high-level, thought leadership topics, like industry trends. Transitioning to ‘nurture’ continues the conversation with middle stage content by moving the buyer along and ‘nurturing’ them until they’re ready to progress in their buyer journey. And lastly, the ‘convert’ step aligns with late stage content that addresses product/solution-oriented content and ultimately guides the buyer to sales.

Your Content is Reaching the Wrong Audience

Whether your content has gone stale, there’s a shift in your target audience, or you just aren’t seeing an ROI on the time and effort that goes into producing new content, you should consider a content model refresh. To get back to the basics of building your content model, review Four Steps to Take Before Launching New Content

The first question you should ask yourself is, ‘Who is our ideal buyer and what do we know (or not know) about them?’ This ties back to the buyer journey and taking the time to invest in getting to know your buyer before you jump into conversation. Mapping out what those conversations look like requires informed decision-making on the different types of buyers you’re already attracting versus who you’re targeting in the future. 

Creating this outline also allows you to discover gaps in content that needs to be created, as well as identify content that’s still relevant and can be repurposed. For a comprehensive overview of performance and what to look for, take into consideration traffic, conversions, engagement, SEO performance, and ROI. 

And lastly, to maintain your refreshed content model, prioritize measuring success. Read How to Measure Your Content’s Effectiveness, to learn next steps for long term success and how to track your content volume, elasticity, and impact.

Your Engagement Channel Strategy is Ineffective

Engagement channels are where content and buyer journey intersect. This is where you will connect with the buyer organically and create meaningful interactions over time, leading ultimately to closed-won revenue. Unfortunately, most people have no idea how to build or optimize the right engagement channel mix.

Only 29% of marketers believe they deliver the right message on the right channel at the right time, and only 28% of marketers are completely satisfied with their ability to engage customers across channels at scale. 

Most businesses can’t answer questions like: Which personas in the top of funnel aren’t paying off down-funnel? Are keywords and content aligned to their place in the funnel? And which channels are producing higher quality leads?

An ineffective engagement channel strategy leads to a poor quality funnel. Channels or providers can look like good investments at first glance, but with the right measurement and focus, they might show themselves to be providing mass quantities of ‘leads’ with less than stellar sales lift.

To overcome this challenge, you not only have to understand how your engagement channels layer into your demand marketing strategy, but you must have an infrastructure that supports detailed data analysis so that you can answer the tough questions. 

We offer advice on how to do both of these things in the article, How to Optimize Your Engagement Channel Strategy. With the right strategy and tools in place, you’ll be able to answer the question: which channel is providing the highest quality leads?

Your Lead Management Framework is Weak

Lead Management is, simply put, how a company qualifies its potential buyers. If your strategy for how to qualify and manage those leads is weak, then you’re likely tossing “bad” leads over the fence from marketing to sales and potentially letting “good” leads slip through the cracks. 

Most companies are still relying on traditional BANT data to qualify all leads. But that’s not nearly enough. The lead qualification process should include demographics and firmographic data, yes, but it should also be able to weight a lead based on where he or she is in the funnel AND the type of content he or she has consumed. 

To do this, your Lead Management Framework should include a strong Progressive Profiling component. Your Progressive Profiling Model should guide data intake sequencing in your lead management by asking for small bits of information from a buyer in digestible increments. This way, the buyer provides you more information as the conversation and relationship progresses. This works by creating a continuous feedback loop between your Demand Marketing program and the buyer. Each time you offer a new piece of content, the buyer offers back a new piece of information. Eventually, as enough interactions occur, you’re able to build a complete profile of your buyer before ever sending qualified leads to sales, all without sacrificing the customer experience.

Each interaction, in turn, should be scored accordingly so that you’re bubbling the highest quality leads to the top and allowing the lower quality leads to receive more nurturing.

A Lead Management Framework is a critical piece of a successful Demand Marketing program, and if your sales team is constantly complaining that marketing is providing “bad” leads,  it’s likely that the lack of a Lead Management Framework is the culprit.


In review, while the idea of converting a ‘bad lead’ to a ‘good lead’ may seem simple, it requires a deeper dive into aligning teams, providing timely and strategic content, developing an efficient engagement channel strategy, and sustainable lead management framework.

Making a true transformation requires a more intentional focus to shift from tactical marketing to Strategic Demand Marketing. ANNUITAS Demand Marketing Transformation delivers a 4-10x improvement in lead-to-revenue conversion – verified results our team has tracked and benchmarked over the past decade. To learn more about what we do and how we do it, read about the path to strategic Demand Marketing.

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