If you are on LinkedIn, I am sure you have fallen victim to the connect and pitch. Chances are they got your name using Sales Navigator, a tool like ZoomInfo, or by looking at their connections and simply reaching out to their connections.

You know how it works. Someone connects with you and says, “I am not trying to sell you anything”, and then keeps messaging you to act like they wanna be your friend.

I had one guy the other day (who is a fitness coach) hit me up with a list of seventeen fitness challenges in the guise of doing research. You know where that will go if you take the bait. I replied, “Nice pitch to find out how to sell to the pain, Marketing 101! Good Luck!” to which he replied, “I am not trying to sell you anything!” Sure bro, SURE!

He viewed anyone who replied to his direct message as a lead and a prospect, and I was never interested nor would I buy fitness advice that way.

What's a Lead?

In a perfect world, a lead is an opportunity. I think we can all agree that most leads fall short of our expectations. Most of us entertain leads with our time and attention, only to find out that the lead ends up as a delayed gratification or a swing-and-miss.

Since I speak with only one to two leads a week, it's not that bad. But more often than not it's a waste of time. It ends with a, “Let's stay in touch,” closing but I know from experience that it rarely happens.

Advertising for Leads

Advertising is a cold lead activity. You hope that your messages will be seen and acted upon. In general, for every 1000 people who see your ads, 10% will be a possible prospect, and 1-2% will take action (click, call, or buy). That was true in the case of newspapers, direct mail, radio, TV, and more. Today, we have the option to advertise on search engines or social media platforms. Yes, the audience is much larger (they promote to millions or billions of prospective customers), but in reality, it's not much bigger than a newspaper.

A national newspaper could reach 360 million people, but in reality, babies and children will not buy from you. Chances are 10% or 36 million could be prospects. About 3.6 million may actually get that paper and have the opportunity to see your ad. 360,000 people may see the ad and pay attention, 36,000 may be qualified leads and 3,600 people may act or buy your product.

You may think that adding 3600 customers is a major win. I said they take action, but not all of them will buy or eventually become repeat customers. Consumers are fickle. Annually, there is around a 30% turnover in consumers. That means that you have to keep advertising to ward off the churn and burn and break even.

If you sell locally, your audience numbers may be in the tens, not hundreds.

Then what happens when you are faced with the prospect of 100 or 1000 leads? You feel an obligation to try and reach out. Chances are you paid for those leads somehow. If you have a sales team, you can split them up amongst the team. Let's say 10 each to 10 people in the case of 100 new leads per week. That does not mean that each person will see any improvement in success, but collectively, they are likely to hit that 1-2% that I've mentioned.

Search Engines & Analytics

People have become frustrated with the new version of Google Analytics because it's new, but also because it looks like traffic to their website is down. In reality, it seems to be a bit more accurate.

Many of my clients are in the thousands of website visits per month. Even that is a false sense of success. You can see Search, Direct, Paid Search (Google Adwords), Referral, Social, and other traffic.

Below is an example of a business that serves Dallas Texas. You can apply filters that help you drill down on those numbers. For example: they get around 4500 visits per month.

  • Search: 3800
  • Direct: 450
  • Paid Search: 135
  • Referral: 90
  • Social: 17

Now, let's look at that filtered to just the US.

  • Search: 3000
  • Direct: 357
  • Paid Search: 125
  • Referral: 85
  • Social: 12

Next, let's look at that when filtered to just the state of Texas (filtering to just their city is too narrow).

  • Search: 485
  • Direct: 86
  • Paid Search: 85
  • Referral: 9
  • Social: 2

Those 650 users potentially could buy from them because they only serve a city in Texas. Those are the only real potentially qualified leads that Google Analytics could show them, and you can also see that only 85 of the 135 total paid ad results are in their region.

Lead Lists

There are tons of companies who try to sell leads in the form of software that will find them for you on LinkedIn. Or you may get emails reaching out to you to sell you a list of “Verified” active email leads.

They make it sound all sexy by calling it a lead, but in reality, they are selling you a list of cold calls. For every 1000 leads you may find or purchase, 100 may pay attention and 10 may take action. You may tell me that your leads have a better ratio than that, but I think it depends on how you define leads and qualified or pre-qualified leads.

A prequalified lead is someone who needs what you sell and is actively looking for a business or brand to work with. An unqualified lead is someone who fits the profile of someone who could buy from you someday but does not actively have a need right now. That elusive lure of someday is only relevant if you can keep your name, brand, and message in front of them until they are actively looking. Alas, it becomes a one-and-done, Johnny Come Lately wish marketing activity.

So What?

By getting people back to your website, you at least know they are interested if you can get them to fill out a form. When they do that, you have permission to email or call back.

Blog posts like this are perfect content to share in an email or social media. That generally comes in a short form teaser. The hope is that people click back to read the full article. That article should have a call to action in the form of a banner ad or popup to get them to give you their information if and when they are interested.

That is how a contact marketing system works. It funnels real leads that have an interest in your products and service. That also gives your sales team mostly qualified leads to start and build better sales relationships. Which I am sure they will find more pleasant and productive than making cold calls all day!

Closing Thought

I have a lot of tolerance for connections, but I have little patience for pitches. I always think about what has not only gotten my clients and myself qualified leads but also what annoys us. It's the do unto others, Golden Rule.

I occasionally joke back and say, “Hey? I have a better way for you to get the leads that you want. Want to learn more?” I just end it there with the hope that they may dig into my content, but I avoid booking a meeting. I know if I take a meeting, it will just go from a pitch to a hard-core sales call. That won't end well for either of us!

I have always said that everyone is in sales. Maybe you don't hold the title of salesperson, but if the business you are in requires you to deal with people, you, my friend, are in sales.”
– Zig Ziglar

Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about business-to-business sales and marketing today! Do you have a sales or marketing communications strategy that is working for you? What tips or techniques can you share that work for you and your business?

To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast.