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360Leads-Impediments-to-Sales-Lead-Gen-Targets-Oct2014Fewer than 1 in 5 companies around the world (19% in the US) meet their sales lead generation targets, reports 360 Leads in a recently-released study. The research examines the use of various lead generation channels, finding that different groups rate them in different ways depending on their performance, size, and function. In fact, about the only thing that respondents agree on is that internal issues are an impediment to meeting targets.

Overall, the top reasons respondents gave for their lead generation programs not meeting their targets were:

  • Insufficient budget invested to know how to deliver more sales leads (57%);
  • Internal company issues impacting performance (48.3%);
  • Poor or limited marketing channel selection (41.2%);
  • Data list quality issues (36.8%); and
  • Poor sales opportunity qualification (32.5%).

For salespeople and marketers, though, the biggest impediment to lead generation performance is internal company issues. That’s one of the rare instances of agreement between the two segments. Indeed, when looking at the most effective lead generation channels, sales respondents viewed telemarketing as their most effective channel (at a rate 57.1% higher than marketing), with email second-best (at a rate 54.5% higher than marketing). Marketers, though, rated digital marketing as their top-performing channel (at a rate 65.5% higher than sales), followed by conferences, trade shows and events (78.7% higher than sales) and direct mail (268% higher than sales).

Although it’s not that surprising that marketing and sales would have different concepts of the best-performing channels, there appear to be differences when sorting respondents by company size, too.

In comparing the ratings of larger companies (100+ employees) and smaller companies (less than 100 employees), 360 Leads found that larger companies were far more likely to rate the following as being effective:

  • Print advertising (418% more likely);
  • Direct mail (137% more likely);
  • Email (72% more likely); and
  • Events, conferences and trade shows (70% more likely).

Those results may well relate to channels such as print and trade shows being too expensive for smaller companies to engage in. Indeed, smaller companies were more likely to rate social media (sometimes perceived as free – though it’s not) and outbound telemarketing as being effective. With respect to telemarketing, the analysts theorize that smaller companies, due to resource constraints, have their salespeople conduct outbound calls, thus building more personal relationships with prospects. This approach, though, is more difficult to scale.

It’s always useful to look at what the best-performing companies are doing, of course. While the study doesn’t define what “top-performing companies” refers to (presumably those that met their targets), this sub-group identified the following channels as tops for lead generation:

  • Outbound telemarketing (44.7%);
  • Email marketing (31.7%);
  • Digital marketing (30.9%);
  • Social media (26.8%); and
  • Conferences, trade shows and events (21.9%).

It’s interesting to see trade shows and events below social media in those rankings, given how enthusiastic B2B marketers have been about their effectiveness. Conferences, trade shows and events were rated the top lead generation channel in the 360 Leads report by one segment: the worst-performing companies.

For respondents overall, advertising, direct mail and social media were rated the least effective channels.

About the Data: The 360 Leads survey was conducted online from June 16 to August 18, 2014 with C-level managers, sales executives and marketing leaders from across the globe. 325 surveys were completed with respondents answering 18 questions and representing six continents.

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