Are Industrial Companies Wasting Their Leads?

No matter the size of the company or the industry they are in, my conversations always boil down to them wanting more leads from their industrial marketing. Yet I see very few of these companies with a lead nurturing strategy in place to convert leads into sales opportunities. As a result, online leads sit untouched or go without a response for weeks if not months.

Often I see marketing people from manufacturing and industrial companies hand off leads to sales with little to no qualifying. This only causes more frustrations and reinforces the long-standing belief by sales that “Marketing generates crappy leads.”

It is important to understand the differences between a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). (See my post, “SAL is the Glue that Binds Sales and Marketing in Lead Generation.”)

Here are some eye-opening statistics from a study done by MarketingSherpa:

  • 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance
  • 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified
  • 65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing
  • 79% of B2B marketers have not established lead scoring

Two more stats from different sources to drive home my point:

  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Source: The Annuitas Group)

(Visit HubSpot for more marketing statistics).

I have seen some companies do lead nurturing sporadically but that is not going to produce consistent results. Many industrial companies want their lead generation to be a quick three-step process – 1) Site visitors, 2) Fill out form and 3) Speak with a sales person.

That’s an unrealistic expectation in complex industrial sales where buying decisions are made by at least two sets of buyers – the technical buyer and the functional buyer. They have different needs and the functional buyer may never visit your site.

Often I hear these companies complain that they want their online visitors/leads to speak to their sales people who can explain everything but their sales people are having a difficult time getting in front of decision makers.

The solution to the problem is to develop a good lead nurturing strategy, execute it and track it consistently. Many of the steps can be easily automated by using marketing automation technology but the final steps will require a human touch by an in-house expert such as an Application Engineer.

It has been my experience that it is difficult to consistently generate high quality industrial leads without a good lead nurturing strategy. This strategy must be developed together by both Sales and Marketing. For more on this, read the following posts:

  1. Manufacturers: Don’t Start a Lead Generation Campaign without Sales
  2. Lead Nurturing Is Not A Marketing Option, It’s A Sales Necessity
  3. B2B Lead Generation without Lead Nurturing is Doomed to Fail

Do you have a structured lead nurturing process in place for industrial lead generation?

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3 thoughts on “Are Industrial Companies Wasting Their Leads?”

  1. Concerning this sentence “buying decisions are made by at least two sets of buyers – the technical buyer and the functional buyer” (although you are mentioning that there are “at least” two sets of buyers), how does the financial department figure in?

    That’s where the two purchasing guys eventually need to go to get the money.

    From the vendor company’s side, what if their lead scoring criteria are too strict? Maybe based on unrealistic market expectations. Do you think industrial vendors’ mindset is too much focused on buyers yearning for their product instead of convincing reluctant buyers to make the purchase decision?

    The whole idea of lead scoring seems to point that way.

    • @Kimmo,

      Good to see you here and thanks for your comments.

      Finance, Purchasing and the C-Suite execs fall under the category of Functional Buyer. The technical buyer is usually the Design Engineer who specifies industrial products and components. I see it as an industrial marketer’s job to help the technical buyer make a strong business case of the solution or product that the vendor is selling because the functional buyer may never visit the vendor’s site. See my post Creating Relevant Content for Industrial Marketing is a Challenge.

      Lead scoring can become very restrictive if one strictly follows BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline) criteria. A technical buyer would score very low in such cases. However, an industrial vendor wouldn’t come close to an RFQ without their parts/components/products being “designed in.” Site interactions and other behaviors need to be part of lead scoring.

      While “yearning” is rare in selling industrial products and services, there are some strong emotions (Risk aversion is at the top of the list) involved and are then usually backfilled with logic to justify the decision. This is where content marketing and lead nurturing can help to bring to the forefront the pain points and the cost of doing nothing for those buyers who are reluctant to act now.


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