Many organizations have lost their focus on lead generation because budget-strapped marketers are under “efficiency” pressures to optimize campaign budgets, customer retention and overall marketing ROI.

A survey of 75 marketing executives by Profitable Channels shows that “growing faster at lower cost” is the top problem keeping marketing executives up at night. At the same time, the majority of sales and marketing leaders surveyed by Sirius Decisions in 2003 rate lead generation as their top critical growth barrier, and most feel their lead generation skills are below average.

The problem is that focusing on “efficient growth” does not yield better lead generation. Focus on cost containment and accountability usually yields only marginal gains. Therefore, managers are looking for new ways to grow.

The Brutal Facts About Lead Generation Today

The facts suggest that fixing the lead generation process is a great place to generate new growth:

  • Selling takes more time and resources—the sales cycle has become 22% longer as buyers are taking longer to consider their decisions and buying is being managed more professionally (Sirius Decisions).

  • Too few resources are dedicated to “front end” lead generation—on average, sales teams spend less than 15% of sales time on lead generation (Sirius Decisions).

  • Leads are not managed very well—over 75% of leads are not followed up on properly (Sirius Decisions).

  • More resources are devoted now to the “back end” of the sales process —customer retention budgets are growing (Profitable Channels).

  • Demand creation is not a major priority—only 6% of organizations make lead generation a sales-training priority (Sirius Decisions).

  • Demand-generation budgets are being cut—fewer than 10% of organizations are undertaking significant strategic investments focused on new-customer acquisition (Profitable Channels). 

  • Most organizations recognize they do a bad job at managing the “front end” of the sales process— 87% of sales and marketing leaders rate themselves average or below average at generating demand (Sirius Decisions).

Sources: Sirius Decisions survey of sales and marketing executives 2003; Profitable Channels Survey of Marketing Executives.

Six Strategies for Revitalizing the Lead Generation Process

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Steve Diorio is author of Beyond E: 12 Ways Technology is Transforming Sales and Marketing Strategy (McGraw Hill, 2002) and President of Profitable Channels, a marketing strategy firm (