Sales Team Says our Web Leads Suck… Now What?

It usually begins with someone from the marketing team asking the question, “Hey!  Are we getting any sales from these Website leads?”  … and before the marketer can ask, “And how many sales?“, the sales team shoots back, “The leads coming from the Website are useless.

Ouch! After working hard to create those leads, marketers often catch this feedback as a punch in the gut.

Faced with this scenario, what is a marketer to do?

The truth is that a weak ratio of leads to sales conversions is often the result of both a marketing AND a sales problem. When presented with this conclusion, a savvy marketer will push her bruised feelings to the side and put on her science cap to discover the truth.

Be forewarned! For any real discovery to be successful, it is important to have an open and willing partner on the sales team to help with the digging.

Five checkpoints for diagnosing web lead sales conversion

Here are five important areas to consider in the discovery process when you are trying to understand why the digital marketing leads are not turning into sales.

1) Is your digital marketing approach grounded on a strong Inbound Marketing plan?

Having a well thought out and prioritized Inbound Marketing plan is crucial to attracting, capturing and converting highly relevant traffic into qualified leads.

Have you built your marketing Personas? Were the sales team members involved in crafting them? They should be. It can be a powerful exercise for breaking down the walls between sales and marketing. Are you using those personas to drive marketing, copy and call-to-action decisions?

You need to ensure you have created elements for each part of the marketing funnel (i.e. “just browsing”, “somewhat interested”, “ready to buy”).

2) What is the conversion rate of  your Website lead forms?

You need to understand key performance metrics like conversion rate for your various lead forms. Now you can answer questions like:  Are people signing up for your Webinars, but not consulting services? At what rate are visitors enrolling in your newsletter?

Once you establish relative baselines, you can work to improve the laggards in your portfolio.

3) What are the realistic attributes that the sales team is using to call a lead “qualified”?

When this handoff of digital marketing leads to sales first starts, there are rarely defined standards in place that set the standard for a “qualified lead”. Examples of typical requirements for a qualified business lead are:

  • a valid business email address must be provided
  • a valid phone number must be provided
  • the prospect represents a company with at least X employees
  • the prospect is not from a competing company

From here, you can adjust lead forms and ads to better align with the defined standards. You’ll often discover clues for new language to filter out unqualified leads. For example, if you have a minimum company size of 50 employees and are targeting HR managers, you can add something like the following language above your Website form:

Are you an HR manager in a company with at least 50 employees? Provide us with your details below and we’ll email you our PDF on “This Year’s Best HR Tips”:

You can also re-classify the leads you already received to determine how many “real leads” you have received. This will be your baseline for comparison in upcoming cycles.

4) How are leads evaluated and processed?

This is all about mapping out the workflow of that precious lead. Who gets the leads? How are they divvied out to the sales team? Are there classes of leads that are “non-leads”, but still valid contacts (e.g. customer service queries, partnership inquiries)? What happens to those “non-leads”?

Having clarity and execution with a stable, repeatable process is crucial to successful lead conversion.

5) What is the sales team’s “service level” in responding to leads?

Web leads begin to get stale in 3 hours. How quickly does your sales team respond to a Web lead? What happens in evenings? Weekends? Are any leads discarded without contact? Who decides?

Even the best leads will suffer tremendously without rapid response from sales. It is a by-product of the times we live in. If you can’t respond within a few hours to most of your Web leads, then your sales team needs to retool so you can respond quickly – even on weekends. The alternative is putting valuable opportunities at risk.


Have you tackled this problem in your organization? I’d love to hear your experience. What questions have you asked? What cultural issues have you had to wrestle with? Or maybe the company culture helped you succeed?

Share your experience – drop us a line on our Facebook page!

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