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Why Most Marketers Fail to Close Enough Leads

Posted by John Aikin
on May 23, 2022

A lot of things go into creating online conversions that are sustainable over time. To begin with, you need to update your website and provide new content on a consistent, regular basis. You need to follow best design practices, so your site loads quickly and is easy to navigate. And you must provide value to your visitors to entice them to complete a conversion event, such as downloading a catalog or white paper, filling out a form, or even making a purchase

So let's talk about the major components of what you need to do to make these conversion events happen and get you enough leads to grow your business. There are two levers that have to be pulled in order to create a conversion event. 


To start, imagine you into a car accident. Thankfully, it's a minor one, and you were uninjured, but you need to have your car worked on. As you chat with the service manager, you notice the guys in the back grab buckets of soapy water to start washing and waxing your car, putting all the finishing touches on it like you're getting ready to take it back.

Except they haven't actually fixed anything. You say, "What are you guys doing? Why aren't you fixing the engine? Why haven't you rebuilt the body? My car isn't even drivable and you're trying to wash and wax it?"

This is exactly why most marketers fail today. Who cares about the content on your website or what your buyer personas look like? Who cares which social media posts are going to get engagement? If you're not closing enough leads to make your business grow, then you're only polishing your online presence, you're not fixing the engine or repairing the body.

All the stuff you should be doing is getting lost under all the effort of making your broken car look clean and shiny. You really should be spending all your energy fixing your car before you focus on how nice it looks.

For example, I think we can all agree that HubSpot is an amazing tool. Unfortunately, HubSpot doesn't do much for lead generation out of the box, and it isn't going to automatically generate leads or book meetings for your sales team unless you put the right framework behind it.

As a result, marketers and business owners spend hours writing web content and blog articles, getting lost in marketing tactics, and hiring overpriced consultants or agencies that show us vanity metrics, but never actually move the bottom line. That puts our jobs and our success at stake.

Here's a quick example of what most marketing looks like:

Maria is the marketing director for a fast-growing SaaS company, and she's literally drowning in her new role because she's under so much pressure to succeed. Maria is in nonstop production mode because she feels that she has to be constantly putting out new content to prove her value.

It doesn't help that she's getting a million things piled on her desk from other people either. So how Maria does make her life easier? She hires people or outsources some of this work. She tries to offload some of the tasks so she can make some real progress toward her goals.

But what is the actual goal here? Is it to have a tremendous amount of production and output, or is it to actually generate leads and sales? Do you even know what those articles and those leads are worth? If you don't know the ROI of those employees or vendors, then you have a problem.

Unfortunately, this is what every marketer hopes to do, but they don't actually know what they should be doing. They just know, "Produce content, measure results." They don't know the value of the leads, what the ROI will be, or have a good strategy to calculate all of that.

We also need to remember that organic content and SEO can take about six to nine months to really show any good fruit. And that's assuming the content is any good in the first place. That's also assuming you have a strategy that tells you what kinds of content you should be producing.

After doing strategy and keyword research and everything else, before even writing the content, you could be looking at about a year of implementing it all before even knowing whether it will pay off.  At the end of it all, if she's lucky, Maria will be able to point to a customer or a few customers that came through the entire program flawlessly. That's no way to run a marketing campaign and will most likely not lead to any real definition of success.

Today's Marketing Model Is Dangerous to Marketers

So why is it dangerous? If you don't have clear insight into your numbers, like how many leads you need to book your next call, how many MQLs you need to pass onto sales, or what your process should be in order to nurture them, you're in real trouble.

That means you have no predictability into how to make your company grow faster. Your sales team has to chase deals and do their own digging rather than getting people booked on their calendars.

With this model, you could wait for almost an entire year just to prove the model works or doesn't work. You could outsource all your SEO and content creation, but you and I already know agencies and consultants charge astronomical fees just to show you their favorite vanity metrics, but not any actual results. 

Trust me, I've lived on this side of the desk for the last decade. I know what agencies do and how they try to spin the numbers, so they look like they're performing well. That's why they show you the easy metrics that make them look good, like the number of page visits or your number one ranking for a keyword no one actually searched for. And it's why they don't show you the actual conversions, or even better, the actual ROI and number of sales.

But if you're paying them $10,000 or $20,000 or more, and you're not seeing that come back by a factor of 4x or 5x, then they're failing you.

Finally, marketing positions typically have the highest turnover out of all positions in a company, which means you might have someone spend a year on an iffy marketing strategy only for them to up and leave before it's ever really completed.

So let's look at what Maria really should have done.

Here's What a Good Marketing Strategy Actually Looks Like

In reality, Maria needs to flip her thought process on how the company brings in its clients and how to build a system that's actually scalable. That way, she can predict and control what happens with her growth, rather than getting stuck in constant production.

How does she do this?

She creates a sort of flywheel to carry the energy. A flywheel in mechanical terms is the wheel that transfers energy from a motor to a machine, like from a car's engine to the transmission, which moves the car.

It's also a metaphor for HubSpot's methodology for how your marketing should operate. 

In the earlier example, Maria works in the Attract phase of getting clients: creating a lot of content and sharing it on social media. But she never actually makes it all the way around the flywheel — she doesn't get it to move and deliver power to actually move the vehicle, so she doesn't ever really impact sales.

This is where most agencies and consultants are going to spend their time before they get fired or leave. In fact, they're going to build entire proposals around nothing but services that exist in the Attract phase.

The question becomes whether you should really be putting in effort and energy into the Attract phase. If not, how do you hope to actually get results?

By flipping the flywheel. You need to start working on the engage stage first.

To start, you want to focus on the conversion into a sales call first. Presumably, you're already attracting leads, so you need to increase the conversion rate. If you're converting 10% of your prospects, then increase it to 15% or 20%. Figure out what the 10% like and caused them to accept a sales call, and then try to repeat that consistently

All metrics boil down to just two different categories of improvement, or two different levers you can pull in order to create more revenue: 1) Averages and 2) Volume.

These are the core pillars of our service that make up everything we do in our business, any business. So step one is building the machine. You need a consistent mechanism or process that you know, without a doubt, will book new meetings for your sales team. If your conversion rates are low and you don't book enough meetings, then you have to improve that. What good does increasing the number of prospects do if you don't have the proper system in place to increase the conversion rate? You might as well be operating on random chance, spinning the roulette wheel, and hoping for the best. Even Vegas offers better odds.

Next, we pour fuel into that machine. When the machine is built, we have to fuel it up constantly in order to make it run at maximum velocity. That is, you'll create more leads coming into your sales funnel, where more of them can be converted.

Most marketers try to do this in reverse: they focus on increasing volume without increasing the averages. Sure you're increasing the total number of conversions, but you're spending so much energy on getting past the duds. Increasing the volume means you just have more duds to deal with.

Think of it this way: Let's say you call ten sales prospects per day and average one close per day. Your boss wants you to double the number of sales to two per day. You have two options: Double the number of sales calls to 20 per day, or figure out how to convert one more prospect to a sale. You'll still make the same ten calls per day, but you've doubled your conversion rate without putting any more energy into it. Instead of one out of 10, you're now closing two out of ten.

If you put your volume first, that is, if you focus on the Attract stage first, then you're increasing the number of sales calls, but your conversion percentage stays the same. Yes, you're getting more sales, but you're working twice as hard for them.

But if you work on converting first, if you focus on the Engage stage, you can convert more leads without spending a lot of extra energy. You'll learn how to do things better without spending a lot more time, money, or energy.

After you figured out how to convert more people, that's the time to look at the Attract stage. You do this after the machine is built, not before. That's how you're going to attract the perfect fit of clients to enter your sales funnel. Rather than attracting a mishmash of prospects, many of whom aren't a good fit at all for your product or service, you already know what your ideal clients look like, so you can focus on attracting more of them.

At Web Canopy Studio, we've already figured out the Engage stage, and we've honed our Attract stage. One of our offerings is our website conversion assessment, which you can find here. You'll get a lot of value out of the results that come back. It's a 30-question quiz that will give you a lot of insight into how your website is performing, which items you should address, and how to fix things in the short and long term.

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