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Why B2B Sales Leads Don't Convert (and Who Is to Blame)

by Ayaz Nanji  |  
July 29, 2014

Most B2B marketing and sales professionals (60%) say price is the top reason Sales doesn't close qualified leads, according to a recent report from Demand Metric and Showpad.

Beyond price, other frequently cited reasons for failing to close sales include failure of the sales team to perform (35% of survey respondents), lack of a compelling product or service (31%), difficult business terms or conditions (21%), and failure of the marketing team to perform (18%).

Below, additional key findings from the report, which was based on data from a survey of 182 marketers, sales professionals, and presidents/CEOs. (Some 67% of respondents work for B2B-focused companies; 25% for B2B-B2C hybrid companies; and 8% B2C-only companies).

The Blame Game

  • Aside from price, there is little agreement between sales and marketing professionals about why deals fail to close with qualified prospects.
  • Sales professionals cite the lack of marketing assets and support as the top reason they fail to close deals.
  • Marketers' view of the top cause of failure—lack of empowerment to negotiate—is more sympathetic to their Sales colleagues. However, the second-ranked cause is not: lack of sales skill or ability.

Sales Closure Rate

Sales professionals say they "strike out" around 70-80% of the time they engage with a qualified prospect (the median sales closure rate of respondents is between 21% and 30%).

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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by Robert Weiss - MultiVision Digital Tue Jul 29, 2014 via web

    Closing deals in today's environment is just as much about qualification, sales' job, as it is marketing's job to provide sales teams with educational and differentiated assets for sales to use during the process. We live in an Inbound world where buyers are more educated than ever before and have access to information during each and every step of the sales cycle. There is a great book for anyone in sales called "Sales Shift" by Frank Belzer that has some good insight on this environmental change.

    Also found it interesting that "Sales professionals cite the lack of marketing assets and support as the top reason they fail to close deals." We just released a video called "Is business video the new cold sales call?" that addresses part of this issue -

    If you're reading this, what is your opinion?

  • by Vic Tue Jul 29, 2014 via web

    Wow, almost a quarter of all marketers don't feel their assets make a difference.

  • by Richard Tue Jul 29, 2014 via web

    Chet Holmes said it best "close until their nose bleeds" . Marketing definitely needs to create laydowns with the campaign strategies, however don't count on it. Build relationships and close deals bottom line. It may take 8 rejections before a client buys so embrace that fact or go into marketing!

  • by Sue Duris Wed Jul 30, 2014 via web

    Hi Ayaz - great info as usual.

    When I read these things about price, is it really price or did the buyer not understand the value? Was Sales too focused on features and functionality and less focused on value? Did Marketing provide Sales the appropriate sales enablement tools to be able to communicate value? Were Sales and Marketing aligned or were they disjointed? And what's the definition of a qualified lead and how distant is an MQL to a sales lead? Lots of questions. Of course, sales-marketing alignment helps with these numbers. The blame game is a big one, but if that is going on, it tells me immediately that the two teams aren't aligned and are operating as silos. What stuck out for me is 67% of marketers think their marketing efforts are effective? But sales aren't closing leads? Another tell-tale sign that sales-marketing teams are disjointed.

  • by Chris Fri Aug 1, 2014 via web

    Sue Duris: I had those same thoughts.

    Ayaz: While it's easy to point fingers, is the real problem the alignment (or misalignment) of marketing and sales? At some point the blame game has to stop. Leaders of these two teams need to face reality and decide if sales develops their strategy from the marketing strategy or the other way around. Or perhaps a hybrid version - which would foster true alignment. Often, content is created that doesn't hit the mark for sales or customers. When it does and customers are engaged, the MQLs don't develop into sales due to other factors that the one who raises his/her hand cannot control (price, timing, etc). This of course leads to how good the data is in-house to ensure the right targets are being contacted in the first place. A tangled web for sure, but one that blaming won't fix.

  • by ruchi raj Sat Aug 9, 2014 via web

    Grate article i like it.

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