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3 Reasons Why Demand Generation Programs Fail


Tom Sadtler eMarketing MavenWhile most forward thinking marketing groups see themselves as the front end of the sales process, much of their effort is wasted. Almost 70% of marketing generated leads are not a good fit for sales. There are three main reasons for this problem:

  • No online sales funnel: some organizations understand that over 80% of B2B purchases start and stay on line, but don't know how or don't think it is appropriate for their business to set up an online buyer's journey or sales funnel.  The result is leads that are handed to sales don't have sufficient context for the sales to know where the lead is in their buying process.

    In contrast, companies that have an online sales funnel provide ample content for each stage in the buyer's journey.Buyers Journey

  • Missing or inadequate middle funnel: The middle funnel is the bridge between recognizing there is a problem and a short list of vendors. Once someone has identified that they have a problem, they have to create a framework or set of criteria that helps them to develop the buying criteria required to move to creating a shortlist of vendors. For example, “If I know that I have to grow my sales by entering the European market, what are the capabilities I have to put in place to do this successfully in the shortest time possible? Can I develop these capabilities in house or do I need external help? Can I get the help I need through the myriad of government agencies or do I need a private consulting group?”

    Most marketing teams don't think about customer communications as helping customers solve their problems. They may be able to define customer problems, but then they switch rapidly to product features and functions. As a result, their websites lack the tools necessary to help their leads move to the next stage. This may be a significant reason why the most common reason for losing a sale is the lead took no action.

    By providing people with decision criteria in the firm of buyer's guides, whitepapers, check lists or some other tool, you can help them move along in their buyer's journey at the same time that you are positioning yourself as a thought leader on whom they can depend.

    sales and marketing

  • Poor processes that enable effective connections with sales: Too often marketing ends up throwing their leads over the wall to sales. It is no wonder then that upwards of 2/3 of the leads go unused. One marketing organization spent three years building a state of the art marketing funnel and produced a sophisticated quarterly report showing how many marketing qualified leads they had turned over to sales. At the end of three years, the EVP of Sales confessed that they had received no value from this effort. The CMO and his senior marketing team were replaced.

    Often addressing this problem isn’t rocket science;, another organization found that over 60% of the marketing qualified leads were getting no action from sales. They instituted monthly review meeting to examine the quality of the leads, which ones were working for sales, which weren’t working and why. In the first three months, they cut the lead backlog in half, and it continued to decline over the next six months. Among other things, they found that one of the marketing managers was sitting on the leads he was responsible for because he didn’t know who to send them to in sales.


Adam Needles says that what is needed is an “operations mindset” that understands the inputs and outputs.* One needs to manage this as an automation-driven, always-on marketing operation to constantly monitor and proactively manage leads at every stage of their buyer’s journey.

What percentage of Marketing generated leads convert to sales in your organization? Why is that?

For more on improving your demand generation download our Demand Generation Process Report Card.

* In “How to Conquer the Challenges of B2B Demand Generation” by Dianne Kim, ITSMA 2012


Agree, many times, we marketers, are moving too quickly to the next campaign or program and overlook how critical the lead hand off is to sales so they understand where the contact originated, what that person saw or heard and how to properly disposition the lead for follow up.
Posted @ Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:40 AM by Dan Nichols
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