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What Is a Business-to-Business Sales Lead?

By: Robert Hennessey

What Is a Business-to-Business Sales Lead?

What is the type of business-to-business sales lead required for your business to grow? A lot of people will tell you there are a lot of different definitions of what constitutes a business sales lead. Why is that?

Is it because defining what a business sales lead is challenging? Not really. Is it because the people who sell business-to-business sales leads know that delivering an actual B2B sales lead is hard? Yes. But they know we want sales leads desperately, so they create their definition of a business sales lead to get us to buy the kind of sales lead their lead generation services can deliver. Did someone say "buyer beware"?

If you are in B2B marketing or sales, this is a topic near and dear to your heart. Just in case you didn’t know, there are no instant answers to B2B sales lead generation. Like you, I have wasted a lot of money on the latest sure fire can’t miss sales lead “solution.”

In spite of all the sales claims made by all types of partial and complete marketing automation firms, what they claim they do and what they deliver are two different things. They all claim to generate “sales leads” in one way, or another. Here are some of their sales claims.

Typical Marketing Automation Sales Claims

Sales-Claim #1:

A “software platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers.”

I believe they have software that will help attract visitors and aid in converting “leads” (they don’t tell you what kind of leads, but I think they mean contact info). Do you believe “Software closes customers”?

Software does not create customers. If it did, we would all be using this platform, and they would be charging a lot more money than they already do.

Sales-Claim #2

It’s “the easiest way to grow sales and save time.”

Benefit Claim:

We “combine everything your business needs—contact management, CRM, marketing automation and e-commerce—into a single online system.

Again their sales claim, “the easiest way to grow sales,” really? They tell us how they save time, but we must trust them on how they “grow” sales. They want to convince us that by merely having contact management, CRM, marketing automation and e-commerce (which usually doesn’t apply to B2B) software we will grow sales. Buy the software and sales will follow. It sounds to me like more sales claim hyperbole.

Sales-Claim # 3:

Generate More Leads with _______ Landing Pages

Benefit Claim:

Our “platform is designed with one thing in mind: Conversion. Our goal is to facilitate a simpler and more streamlined marketing workflow so your marketing team can focus on creating, publishing and measuring your campaigns without the IT or software guys.”

I believe the benefit claim and the sales claim may be valid if, by leads, they mean name captures and email addresses. If they are inferring B.A.N.T. quality sales leads, then I think not.

Yes, they have software because that is what they deliver to you. Many also have an expensive price tag or time-consuming learning curve or both. I have used one or more marketing automation solutions, but they haven’t generated real sales leads or more importantly the ROI they claim.

Why because at their core and what they don’t tell you is that by using the Internet to market your business you are using a mass marketing strategy. So you will need tens to hundreds of thousands of page views for your website, blog, landing page and social media posts to obtain any results.

You also need to define what a sales lead is for your company. The so-called, “sales lead” by most Internet marketing companies are a name and email address. Then through a large and ongoing email nurturing you might be able over time to fill in the rest of the data that you need to acquire in obtaining a B.A.N.T. quality business lead. However, this still doesn’t guarantee that this “sales lead” needs what you are selling or is interested in contacting you.

I think I we have all seen these same sales claim charades before without the technology mumbo-jumbo. You may or may not remember companies that sell prospect mailing lists. They said and still say they sell “sales leads.” Providing the name, title, address and phone number is not a sales lead by any stretch of the imagination. It is contact information. I think today’s technology brethren are spouting the same old sales claims as the mailing list companies have done for years. It is the same sales claim in a shiny new wrapper. Unfortunately, it isn’t true.

Warm leads, pre-qualified sales leads, contact information even with a phone number or email address are not real sales leads unless they have asked you to contact them.

I don’t know how you define a business sales lead but here is how I describe one. I know the only “real” sales lead is someone who actually contacts me first and then provides complete and accurate contact information for me to follow up with them. Anything short of this is not a real sales lead.

Generating real sales leads is hard and won’t likely be accomplished by merely buying software. Marketing automation is not likely a good investment for businesses with a total customer universe of less than 20,000 potential customers because it relies on tens and hundreds of thousands of page views. Does your company website have hundreds of thousands of page views?

Therefore, when someone promises you lots of B2B sales leads it may be prudent to challenge them to define, precisely what they mean by a “sales lead.” Paying several to tens of thousands of dollars for software to create content, publish content and track responses to that content that result in only generating contact information, not B.A.N.T. quality business-to-business sales leads may not be the smartest use of your marketing dollars you can make.

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