The State of Lead Generation Today (with Jim Dickie of CSO Insights)

B2B Lead Generation | The State of Lead Generation Today

(This earlier blog post is mostly updated with current data, but overall, not much has changed. The bottom line: B2B salespeople continue to struggle.)

Jim Dickie
Jim Dickie, CSO Insights

Jim Dickie, Managing Partner of CSO Insights sat down with the Fearless Competitor to share insights and takeaways from their recent Lead Generation Optimization study in which they surveyed 525 companies.   The data were shocking.  Let me summarize it for you here.

CSO Insights has been doing studies for 17 years, so they have great historical information.  What’s going on?

Just a bit more than 1 out of 2 salespeople achieved quota in 2008 — down from 61% in 2007, (6 out of 10 made quota in 2010) but 86%  of companies are raising quotas in 2009. (95% of companies raised quotas in 2011.)

If almost half of salespeople failed to make their numbers last year, how will a higher quota help?

It’s clear that business as usual no longer works. Sales turns to marketing for help.

(Two terms for the same thing.)

The next question CSO Insights asked is “How well is Marketing equipped to do new customer acquisition?”

  1. How well do you do web based marketing programs? — 2 out of 3 said “Needs Improvement”
  2. How well do you do direct marketing? — 3 out of 5  said “Needs improvement”
  3. How well do you leverage media? — Better than 1 out 2 % said “Needs Improvement.”
  4. How well do you do telemarketing? — 2 out of 3 % said “Needs Improvement”

“How does your marketing budget compare to last year?” 2 out of 3 said same as last year or lower.

“With fewer dollars, how well can you leverage that limited budget?”

Marketing data quality was a massive problem.  Only just over 1 out 3 companies said customer data was 90% accurate or better.  (9 out of ten customer records)  And only 1 of 10 companies said prospect data was 90% accurate or better.

We need to build trust, but we don’t do a good job of talking to them and we don’t even know them very well.

Lead scoring also separates the successful and less successful organizations.  7  of 10 companies have no lead scoring or just an informal process.

Lead nurturing — keeping in touch with those not yet ready to buy:

  • 42% said Sales does it.
  • 21% said Marketing has an informal process
  • 20% said Marketing has a formal process
  • 10% no one does it

Bottom line: Only 20% – 1 out of 5 companies – does lead nurturing the right way – with a formal process.  8 out of 10 do it wrong.

Companies that take a scientific approach to lead scoring and nurturing are vastly more successful. (Check out the lead nurturing and scoring services offered by Find New Customers.)

Jim said “Companies are missing a huge opportunity.  Companies that do this right enjoy a much higher return on marketing investment.

Jim also said that companies need to invest in technology — both for marketing and sales. Good lead generation and management software out there today.  But great content and process are needed too.

The Fearless Competitor asked Jim about customer buying processes and matching content.  Jim agreed and said customer buying processes are very poorly understood. (Please note that Find New Customers has partnered with the Buyer Persona Institute to bring you a series of free educational videos.)

He emphasized that we live in a self-service world today.    The buying process starts long before they talk to a salesperson.

If a salesperson talks about products or features — the customer says “Yes, I know.”  The conversation needs to evolve into a problem/solution discussion.  This is why fixing the website is so important — it must focus on giving the prospect the information he or she needs to solve critical business issues.

What should people do, Jim?

Marketing and sales should sit down and agree on what is a lead. Get answers to questions like:

  • Who are our best customers?  (And find more like that.)
  • Where is the customer coming from?
  • What is having the biggest impact?

Track progress and get feedback.

What do you think? We love your comments and appreciate it when you share our content on social networks.
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Jeff Ogden (@fearlesscomp) is the President of the B2B lead generation consultancy Find New Customers. Find New Customers helps companies dramatically improve revenue results by transforming the way they attract, engage and win new customers. Contact Find New Customers by calling (516) 495-9350 or sending an email to sales at

“If more companies listened to (Find New Customers) a lot more would be sold.” Dan McDade, Pointclear.


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