According to the recent survey, lead generation is a key pain point for 60% of marketers, and it’s unlikely to change for another couple of years. Constantly increasing competition and abundance of information makes it very difficult for a company to track, reach and engage with potential clients. As a result, many businesses find it hard not only to succeed but also to survive “in the jungle”.

However, things aren’t as discouraging as they might seem at first glance. Our company, CIENCE, has been providing B2B lead generation services for the past 3 years. Having served over 300 clients we’ve faced the same problems multiple times and learned how to overcome them.

It’s not as difficult as might seem. A proper examination of lead generation challenges will help you survive the natural selection of business nature, fill the sales pipeline and acquire potential clients more effectively. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at this issue.

The takeaways of the lead generation surveys

We’ve found five surveys that are dedicated to lead generation and mention its challenges. The first one dates back to 2010, and the last one was conducted in September 2017. We listed these surveys below along with top three lead gen challenges they found:

Top 10 Lead Generation Challenges 2010 survey by RAIN Group in cooperation with ITSMA:

  • Finding a strategy, tactic, or offer that gets the attention of potential leads – 42.1%
  • Having enough people/the right people to generate leads – 38.2%
  • Measuring and documenting lead generation success – 31.2%

MarketingSherpa 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report:

  • Generating high-quality leads – 71%
  • Getting a high volume of leads – 44%
  • Creating public relations “buzz” – 36%

2013-2014 Survey of CPA Firm Best Lead Generation Practices by Vitberg LLC:

  • Generating high-quality leads – 43% (Very challenging) and 35% (challenging)
  • Generating a high volume of leads – 35% (Very challenging) and 36% (challenging)
  • Time or resources – 25% (Very challenging) and 42% (challenging)

2015 Lead Generation Survey of B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn:

  • Generating high-quality leads – 59%
  • Converting leads to customers – 42%
  • Delivering effective lead nurturing programs – 37%.

The State of B2B Lead Generation and What it Takes to Succeed held by Digital Doughnut in September 2017

  • Lead quality – 30%
  • Getting the right processes in place – 28%
  • Tracking ROI from leads – 26%
Lead Generation CHallenges Chronology. Top challenge is Quality Leads

As you can see there was a major shift in the perception of lead generation challenges between 2010 and 2012. Ever since 2012, the top challenge has remained unchanged – quality leads. Accordingly, we look forward to seeing the surveys on this problem in the year 2018. Now that we’ve seen the key pain points of lead generation, there’s one question we need to answer:

Why getting quality leads is so challenging?

The answer is pretty simple: because it’s crucial and difficult at the same time. Many factors make the acquisition of quality leads uphill (and we’ll list them below). On the other hand, the importance of this task should never be underestimated.  A business needs to continually generate high-quality leads because it saves the resources for your sales development team:

1. The time and effort

It takes up to 30 minutes for an SDR to make additional research on the company, up to 30 minutes to write a follow-up and up to 8 dials to get to a prospect. Thus, if your lead isn’t a good fit, all these efforts and time will be wasted.

2. The emotions

First, rejection is always hard even for a strong-willed SDR. Don’t make them endure it more than necessary. Second, an experienced sales rep will sooner or later understand that a lead is no good. Will he or she be happy? Probably not. Third, you need satisfied employees because unsatisfied people don’t work optimally.

3. The money

Time is money. However, apart from that, you will spend money on calls, electricity and on the Internet. Some people on the team might even solve their emotional stress by bad habits that become harmful to their health.

The bad outcomes of the bad sales lead generating

Sadly, there’s an even worse scenario than an SDR wasting time and effort. A poor quality lead can turn into a bad fit opportunity and get far into the later stages of the sales funnel.

As a lead generation firm with over 3-year experience in the field, we’ve seen (or rather heard) prospects who agreed to set up an appointment with us or our clients and then never showed up. Some of these people did it for a single reason – to end up a call with an SDR.

“Okay, okay. Let’s do it!” – you hear over the phone. But the voice sounds distant and distracted. The person hasn’t heard you. He wants to get rid of you asap. You make your quota, but your company loses money.

This “no-show-up” issue of sales lead generation should be addressed at three points of control:

  1. ICP creation
  2. Contact list compilation
  3. SDR motivation

We’ll speak about the items one and two in great detail below (as well as how to solve it). As concerns the third, we’d spent much time explaining our SDRs that this practice (not making sure that the prospect really heard you and was interested in the upcoming appointment) was damaging.

It prevented us from becoming the best lead generation company for some time (e.g. according to Clutch). Eventually, we introduced the system of bonuses for every appointment show-up (and it does work).

Nevertheless, back to the topic, a bad quality lead will cost your company more time, efforts, negative emotions, and eventually money. That is why it’s important to solve this issue at the very beginning of your sales funnel.

As we said above, we are sure that the profound diagnostics of your lead problems can largely improve the lead generation process of a company and bring more potential customers.

What Are High-Quality Leads?

…and most importantly — how to tell them from the bad-quality?

There are two aspects of a quality lead. First of all, it’s contact data. Second, it’s the contact data of a person and organization. That’s why you need to evaluate the lead from these two perspectives. Let’s begins with the second part.

Quality lead is a person holding a particular position in the company with a significant likelihood of becoming your customer

In other words, it fits your Ideal Customer Profile like a glove. In practice this means the following:

  1. Above all, quality leads are people that hold relevant positions in a certain company (i.e. they are decision-makers).
  2. This business suffers the problems that your product/service can solve.
  3. Your company can bring great value to them (with your product/service).
  4. The organizations should have financial capabilities of buying your product/service.
  5. The timing should be right for them.

Quality Leads = Quality Contact Data

One of the reasons why CIENCE is considered one of the best lead generation companies on the market by multiple review platforms is because the requirements to the quality of our contact data are very high.

Every sales research we make is unique since each customer has individual research criteria (i.e. Ideal Customer Profile). We understand it from our own experience. That’s why every single contact list is made from scratch at CIENCE. We never trade the data we generated for the previous clients.

And it’s not only because we’re very sensitive to the information, but also because we know how damaging the outdated contact data is for the lead generation process.

Here’s an example. You purchase a list from a platform. When was the last time it was updated? When your sales lead generators find 40 prospects on Monday and your SDRs send the emails on Tuesday, that’s up-to-date.

That’s the reason why companies that buy leads most often get the high bounce rate. Just for your information, good sales research can keep your bounce well below 10% (the indicator that is considered unacceptable at CIENCE).

Summing up the above, you have one more criterion of a quality lead – the data must be up-to-date. In other words:

  • The company should still be operating in the same industry, have the revenues, number of employees, location and fit other relevant requirements.
  • The person should still be working at this company, in the required position.

Improving the quality of potential leads

We’ve given two definitions of quality leads, i.e., the “relevance” of the company and title and the correctness of their contact data. Thus, there are two ways you can improve. First, you should make sure that the criteria of the search are relevant. Second, you need a proper methodology of the search.

Ideal Customer Profile

In the business lead generation, the criteria for searching potential leads (i.e. businesses that are a good fit for you) are called Ideal Customer Profile. Crafting it is one of the first steps in your lead generation process. The mistakes made at this stage will undermine all the efforts your researchers and outbound prospectors make.

Take a look at your ICP and buyer persona. They should be:

  • Up-to-date
  • Detailed
  • A perfect fit for your company and your product

What can you make to improve it? Sometimes, it’s better to analyze your product and your company, and then craft ICP and BP from scratch rather than try fixing the old one.

Sales Research

If everything is fine with your ICP, you should check the next stage of the lead generation process — research. Do you outreach “quality contacts” that fit your Ideal Customer Profile? You won’t have a good contact list unless you order a research on businesses that match your specific criteria.

Some companies think that acquiring a list of firms is enough to fill the sales pipeline. However, the quality of these lists might be really low. First of all, they are usually out-of-date, i.e., businesses close, people leave their jobs for various reasons, the size of companies, geography, and many other characteristics change over time.

Secondly, the lists are mostly generalized. They won’t have many quality contacts to match your ICP. Summing up, they’ll contain many companies that are absolutely unlikely to become your customers. All you’ll get is the quantity and not the quality.

That’s why targeted research is very important for lead generation.

Methods to improve the quality of leads

If for some reason, you can’t narrow your list of prospects to “quality contacts”, you can try dealing with the problem at stages 3 and 5.

The third stage is crafting a message that would hit the pain point of your prospects. As a reminder, your Ideal Customer Profile is a company with a problem you can solve. Does your message appeal to it? It might happen so that the content of your email attracts the wrong type of leads.

Stage 5 of lead generation process is phone-calling. Your SDRs are your last line of defense. They turn the contacts into leads and set the appointments. If you can’t filter your prospects with high-quality research, that’s something your reps will have to do for you.

Take time to:

  • explain to your SDRs what an Ideal Customer Persona is;
  • teach them how to determine quality leads.

In some companies, the earnings of SDRs depend on the number of quality leads they passed to Account Executives. However, we suggest introducing these reimbursement systems carefully. If you can’t provide many quality contacts, your SDRs won’t be able to generate leads that fit your Ideal Customer Profile. You’ll simply put additional stress on your employees.

Even if you’re 100% sure about the excellence of your researchers,
just like we are here, at CIENCE, it’s still better to teach them
how to generate quality leads.


In conclusion, analyze your lead generation process. Check your Ideal Customer Profile and conduct or outsource a targeted research of quality contacts. Revisit your target message and make sure your SDRs have the necessary knowledge and skills to do their filtering work properly.

These actions will help you tackle the key challenge of lead generation, and increase the quality of your sales process.

Anastasia Voitehina
Content Writer at CIENCE

Anastasia Voitehina is a Content Writer at CIENCE Technologies. She creates passionate articles, witty infographics and smart charts dedicated to B2B Lead Generation. Anastasia also records the company's history and writes inspirational stories about her colleagues.