B2B Lead Generation – Should I aim for quantity or quality? Why?

Good question, we are often asked. This is really more of a budgeting and bandwidth question than anything else. Everyone wants a boatload of super high quality leads and lots of them however two considerations to keep in mind is that typically, high quality and high quantity often don’t go hand in hand. The best solution is to find a hybrid of the two based upon the budget at hand and what your criteria is for a high quality lead.

If the need for the product

  • Is hard to predict from any externally visible data
  • Is not worth predicting due to the cost of the analysis versus the value of the sale
  • Is broad enough that imprecise marketing spend still yields decent ROI
  • Involves low cost selling methods that scale well

Then go for quantity. Otherwise, start thinking about quality. It’s interesting to note that the above points sound more like a B2C product than a B2B product, don’t they? The more typical B2B answer to this is that there is not a single universal truth.

B2B products vary quite a bit, even though they do share characteristics as a category. There are some core principles that can be applied, though, to move towards a good answer.

In B2B selling, it’s not uncommon to think of sales in terms of a continuum:

suspects –> prospects –> leads –> opportunities

In a sense, the sales person is right. A sales person is a high cost way to move a sale forward. Their time is valuable, and there is only a certain level of sale that is worth the time and the techniques that they tend to use. If their selling methods involve flying out to meet people and making in-person presentations, and they are AWESOME at it, then you probably have to pay them for being awesome. There is no way that the commission on a small sale will be worth their time or that the time spent on preliminary contacts will feel important to them.

Does that mean that the smaller sales and the lower authority job titles are poor quality leads? What if you have an inside sales team / telesales? What about an automated email nurturing process? Does the change in the costs to sell to them make the dog food start to smell like a hamburger? Probably.

The bigger the team of influencers at the customer and the longer the sales cycle, the more likely it is that you should stage your selling process from low cost to high cost methods. This means that even “low quality leads” are just gatekeepers to “higher quality leads” that should be sold to via low cost methods.

So, figure out what your selling methods are, from low to high cost. Map them to the personas and roles of the customer as well as to deal size. Allocate your prospects as they come in the door to the best cost method given the information available. Graduate your leads and opportunities to higher cost methods as they relationship advances.

Realize that if you have “leads” that you want to sell to that your “sales” channels consider poor quality then that means that you haven’t diversified your selling methods enough to take advantage of those leads.

In summary, lead quality is relative to the cost of the methods applied