Lead quality vs. quantity: the eternal debate

If there’s one discussion we’ve had with our lead-buying clients more than any other, it’s about the balance between getting enough leads and getting high quality leads. This balance between quality and quantity was a popular topic at LeadsCon this year — in the conversations at the show, Jeff reports that lead generators like us, who work directly with buyers, were more concerned about quality, while lead aggregators and resellers tend to focus on quantity.

Of course, that’s a simplification – and outside of the lead gen industry itself, anyone who uses lead generation needs to be aware of both sides of the equation. We’ve talked about how many leads you should be producing before — but if you meet your number using leads of questionable quality, are you really going to meet your larger goals?

Start with the assumption that we’re talking about leads that meet at least a base quality level: legitimate contact information and at least some interest in purchasing. After that, every organization has its own preferences: some companies with larger sales teams are more interested in getting a high volume and working them steadily; others that sell higher-ticket items are happy with a smaller volume if the leads are extremely responsive.

Buyer preference aside, though, there’s ultimately a question of balance. Increasing volume at the expense of quality is a tempting but dangerous direction, and increasing quality standards too much can reduce the volume so low that the channel doesn’t have the impact to make a worthwhile contribution to your business.

So what can your business do to balance lead quality and quantity? Glad you asked…

  • Communicate constantly. Your sales and marketing teams need to be consistently evaluating the leads you’re bringing in and the results they’re producing. Have internal dashboards, hold regular check-in meetings, and encourage a culture where communication about any issues is the norm.

  • Use a variety of lead sources. Leads that you capture through your web site will behave differently than those from search engine marketing or purchased lists. Using multiple sources will insulate you if volume slows down in any one channel, or if you have to dial one back because results aren’t where they need to be.

  • Analyze results and costs by channel, then adjust your mix. As you add new lead generation channels, take the time to compare them to existing sources. Do they convert at different rates? Are their purchases for similar revenue? Once you know the costs and returns on leads from across all your channels, you have the information you need to start changing up the mix.

  • Have tactics for “low end” leads. Just because a lead isn’t interested in purchasing right now doesn’t mean they won’t want to eventually. Similarly, a prospect who’s interested in a smaller purchase than your sweet spot may not be a high-dollar opportunity — but it’s an opportunity for someone. Can you create partnerships with other sellers who target smaller buyers? Can you create custom lead nurturing campaigns for the ‘just researching’ types who may not be ready to buy for six months? You’ve already paid to get this lead in the door — don’t throw it away simply because it’s not an easy home run.

What else goes into balancing quality and quantity? All kinds of things — staffing levels, your product cycles, your budget, the availability of more leads in various channels. How do you make the decision?

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