Is there ever such a thing as a dead sales lead?

Lead Forensics, Thursday 17 December 2015

A man walking away from a woman sitting on a rock

There’s a saying in the world of sales - ‘no doesn’t mean no, it just means not right now’. But is this always true? Or are there times you should just bite the bullet and press delete? And is there ever a way to turn an apparently dead lead around? 


The right leads 

A huge amount of work goes into lead generation. And even more effort and commitment is then needed to filter out the genuine prospects and effectively nurture each one of them along the sales process, towards a purchase. 

If you’re finding your leads are proving difficult to warm up and the nurturing isn’t getting much, if any, response, then the first point to check is that you’re getting the right type of leads through the door in the first place. If they’re missing the mark and a majority of the sales leads you’re getting have no likelihood of ever buying from you, then you’re instantly starting off at a disadvantage. 

It could also be time to evaluate your lead nurturing campaigns in more detail, if you find you have loads of dead leads. See if there are any patterns - do the dead leads increase or decrease? Are there specific campaigns that produce more or less? 

Once you’re happy that you’re generating quality leads, they’re perfectly on target, and your nurturing campaigns are bang on, then you know your foundations are solid. The good news is you can then also put some steps in place for those leads that may have gone quiet on you – your apparently ‘dead’ leads.

I’m out

If you have a list of leads that haven’t opened an email from you, haven’t visited your website, or otherwise engaged with you in the last 12 months then these leads could reasonably be classed as dead. On the cold scale, they’re skiing towards the arctic end. 

Now if you have leads who have specifically asked not to be contacted by you anymore, then you must respect their decision. It’s likely they’ve already sorted this themselves and clicked to unsubscribe. For some B2Bs, this is seen as their final opportunity to have a go at warming them up. They will link them through to a fun or humorous ‘sorry you’re leaving us’ style page. But if the lead still goes at that point, then wave goodbye and move on. They’re just not that in to you. 

Dead – or just in need of an adrenalin shot?

The other dead leads, the ones who have been unresponsive to your nurturing messages for a considerable period of time, will need handling and monitoring in a different way. Depending on how much you know about each of the leads, put them in a special ‘workflow‘ of their own – basically meaning they receive a planned sequence of communications, with the emails going out at set intervals and being specifically tailored to them. The overall purpose of this will be to spark their interest. This is no place for generic (yawn) emails. It is about providing good quality content. 

The list may, for example, be set up to receive one email once a quarter. Or if they’ve been unresponsive for a very long time, then even one email every 2 months. You are trying to encourage them to opt in and respond, so you can then move them up a level and into a different nurturing workflow. 

The chances of success here are slim, but importantly you are giving yourself the strongest chance of getting something out of these leads. 

The golden eggs

If any of your dead leads are accounts you really, really want to land, and they are a good fit for your product or service, then again this group will need special care. Before creating communications for them, think about the following:

· Why didn’t they bite before? (this is one reason it’s great to keep really detailed records throughout the sales process, every nugget can prove golden). The more open and frank an answer you can get to this question, the more you have to work with.

· Did they ever let slip any other nuggets or insights that may be helpful – like who they may be using currently for a service you’re offering? When they set/allocate their budgets?

· What’s their current situation – and how can you help with it? Why should they talk to you, what’s the major benefit? To answer this pull together all the background info you can, so you really understand their world – like what are the challenges currently facing their industry? Are there any governmental, or economic issues at play?

Tailor your communications as much as possible based on your insights, but be careful you’re not coming on too strong. Remember your aim is to nudge them delicately into more nurturing territory.


Overall, when a lead is dead it's dead and your time could be far better spent. Pruning dead weight off once a year is not a bad plan. Start by looking for all those leads which aren't a good fit for you – they might not be your exact target audience and haven't done anything at all on your website or with any of your other content. 

Having a regularly trimmed list will also help increase your open rate for emails, which in turn will increase your score as an email sender. This is vital as a bad score can mean your emails go automatically into the "spam" bin. 

So be brave. Delete them. It can prove a very liberating experience. 


You may also be interested in reading Whoa there - Are you passing leads over to sales too soon?


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