Andrea-Olson-3 Andrea Belk Olson

Generic Leads are not Leads

Multiple times a day, I receive emails from companies claiming they “provide tons of qualified leads” for businesses.

Here’s one recent example:


“Since finding and closing new business is more important than ever for companies to survive a global changing economy, how is [company] fine-tuning your lead gen process to generate more qualified meetings?”

“Do you have 15 minutes to review your current lead gen strategy for [company] to see if we can help?”
[Lead Gen Company]

Sounds magical, right? While every company is always seeking to grow their business, it’s quite interesting that a Lead Generation company sends out a generic email to a non-qualified mailing list about their services, claiming this is their specialty.

Even more interesting is the fact that their message is not tailored to their audience, communicates understanding about the business they are targeting, nor provides a compelling narrative about their *oh so special and unique* approach.

However, there are everyday companies that take this approach that diminishes not only their credibility but also their likelihood of actually getting any qualified leads. When we explore ways to generate new business, the first and most important thing is to understand whom you want to target, and why. Why is this audience segment important? How do you address their challenges and needs in a unique and different way?

If we can’t answer these questions yourself, you’re already behind, and no lead generation company with their wonderful lists will help. It’s like throwing spaghetti at a wall. If you really want to generate quality leads, you need to first understand the specific customers facing specific challenges. Not the generic persona-based customers, but real-life customers. Talk (not email, not survey) with your current customers. What new issues are they facing? Why are they facing them? What keeps them up at night?

Even if these issues aren’t things your company might not directly address, they will be the source of new ideas. Tangental things that relate to what you do. Do they get frustrated with layers of communication when they work with vendors? Even if they don’t directly voice it, you might be one of their sources of frustration. Mere exposure has caused them to become acclimated to your processes. Can you do things simpler, better, easier that saves them time, money, and effort?

Now you have a story. A relatable problem in which customers can identify they need help with. Something tangible. You might argue “well, lead generation is a problem!”, but you can pick up a list of names and emails from anywhere. Likely for free. Lead generation isn’t the problem. The problem is identifying and knowing who has a problem that you uniquely solve.

So for the email I just received while writing this article:

“Are you open to see what’s out there that could support your lead generation efforts? An initial call might be a good idea for us to discover if there’s potential for us to work together in gaining new clients for your firm. What do you think? Would Wednesday at 3 pm est be a good time? if yes, please provide your direct line.”
Yeah, I’ll pass. If I do the work right on my end, the job is already done.

About the Author:

Andrea Olson is a speaker, author, behavioral economist, and customer-centricity expert. As the CEO of Pragmadik, she helps organizations of all sizes, from small businesses to Fortune 500, and has served as an outside consultant for EY and McKinsey. Andrea is the author of The Customer Mission: Why it’s time to cut the $*&% and get back to the business of understanding customers and No Disruptions: The future for mid-market manufacturing.

She is a 4-time ADDY® award winner and host of the popular Customer Mission podcast. Her thoughts have been continually featured in news sources such as Chief Executive MagazineEntrepreneur MagazineThe Financial BrandIndustry Week, and more. Andrea is a sought-after keynote speaker at conferences and corporate events throughout the world. She is a visiting lecturer and Director of the Startup Business Incubator at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business, a TEDx presenter, and TEDx speaker coach. She is also a mentor at the University of Iowa Venture School.

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