We all love the Pavlovian response to our efforts. Oooh a number that says you like me! But leads are only one measurement out of many that give marketing directions on what’s working and what isn’t. Focusing just on one piece of the puzzle leaves a whole lot of opportunity on the table.

1. The Sale is What’s Actually Important

Marketing people don’t get hired because companies want lots of leads (though many of them will say that). They want more sales. Too much focus on leads in marketing means you’re only paying attention to 10% of the job you’re hired to do.  Marketing should focus on not just bringing a prospect to the door, but nurturing them throughout the sales process until they sign on the dotted line.

2. Counting Leads Wastes Time

Or worse, arguing with people about “is that really a lead, should we count it,” is a total waste of time.  500 people watched your webinar. Do you want to spend your time sorting them all out—this one is a student, that one isn’t the right market, there’s a duplicate etc. Or would you rather work on a follow-up program that nurtures those webinar attendees into real prospects.  Your time is valuable spend it on what’s important.

In a job interview one time, the sales manager went on and on about how the previous incompetent person in the position was trying to “pass off” leads from a webinar that were existing customers. The audacity! Counting leads is often a stumbling block between sales and marketing that gets leaned on as a reason to point fingers when sales aren’t coming in. Don’t let it happen to you. Needless to say, I declined that job.

3. Creating Demand is More Important than Creating Leads

This one is really important. Focusing on leads often means companies will resort to tactics like pricing promotions that might bring a lot of instant response, but don’t generate any actual interest in the company itself.

Creating demand is a much more nuanced process that involves creating relationships with your target marketing. This is best achieved over time by building a reputation as a thought leader through thoughtful content marketing. Blogs, social media, papers and webinars help you establish a lasting relationship with your target market that will last much longer than that desperate pricing promo.

4. By Focusing on Leads You May be Missing Problems Elsewhere

Perhaps you need more sales so you do the math and think, hmmm if we close 10% of 1,000 leads, we’ll be back on track. It might be true, but what if the problem is somewhere else in your funnel? Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing said it well:

“If you want more sales, don’t start at the top of the funnel.  Start at the bottom, and work your way back up.  Why are deals at the negotiation stage failing to convert?  Why are some qualified opportunities not getting far enough down the purchase path?  Why are good leads – those with a need and budget – failing to become qualified opportunities?

The fastest way to increase sales is to increase conversion of those closest to becoming a sale.  Review every stage back up in the direction of newly-created leads.  If you find everything is working just fine and you actually do need new leads, then go get them.  But nine times out of ten we do this, we don’t get that far before building a long list of optimization opportunities that drive more sales, faster.”

Industry wide there is a heavy focus on “lead” generation. Google it. It’s endless. Marketers must rise above and not let companies put us in the box of only delivering this small slice of the pie. We can and should be helping to drive these sales all the way home.