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The number one reason b2b lead generation doesn’t work is not what you think. As a business owner, you want to get more leads from your email campaigns, events and webinarsSEO, and Google Ads. That’s to be expected. You’re investing time and resources. You’re planning your entire business strategy around anticipated sales.

You have high hopes. All that is entirely responsible. But then, it doesn’t work.

Sales frustrations with lead generation

A sales rep laments to you, “I am getting a little worried. I’m not getting any results from our marketing qualified lead follow-up strategy (MQLs). I’ve done a ton of activities. I’ve followed the Bloodhound Follow-Up Strategy, but all to no avail. No bites, no sales conversations – nada.”

Or, you may think to yourself, “I’ve shifted our target market. I’ve changed our lead generation strategy every quarter in the past year. Why aren’t we getting lead generation results?”

What you think is right may be wrong

Here you are, thinking you and your sales team are doing everything right.

  • You’re holding Sales accountable for following up with every MQL. Not only are there no new appointments, but prospects aren’t even returning the 9th email or 10th phone call.
  • You’re writing great lead generation content and pushing it out. Few prospects are clicking through. Nobody is responding to email campaigns. Few are engaging on social media.
  • You’re updating your website to improve the user experience. Inbound leads aren’t flowing.

You’re frustrated and exhausted. There goes your business plan for the year. You’ve tried so hard.

The biggest challenge with B2B lead generation

Here’s the deal: the biggest challenge with lead generation, both sales prospecting and marketing campaigns, is that it takes time for you to see the results.

And the longer it takes, the more you begin to doubt your strategy. When you doubt your strategy, that’s when you begin to fiddle with it.

First, you decide to tweak a little of this:

  • Your campaign message
  • Frequency of contact
  • Prospecting approach
  • MQL follow-up strategy

Then, you tweak slightly bigger things in your strategy:

  • The target contact
  • Lead generation activities
  • Strategic messaging

Next, you begin to throw some money at lead generation:

  • New list acquisition
  • Social advertising
  • Google AdWords and Pay Per Click
  • Outsourced appointment setters

Your battle cry: “Nothing is working. We must change!” Sound familiar?

Suddenly, you’re overhauling your entire strategy:

But still, with the effort you’ve put into all these adjustments, lead generation isn’t yielding the results you expected.

The answer is counterintuitive

The answer to the big question of why B2B lead generation isn’t working is counterintuitive. You’d think that when things aren’t working, you need to change something. Anything. Just to get noticed. To get someone to pay attention.

But in lead generation, often the opposite is true.

1. You have to keep doing what you’re doing.

Be persistent. Give your lead generation activities time to get noticed. Prospects pay attention to different types of activities at different times. Give your message a chance to be noticed and heard by your target market.

2. Keep on prospecting.

We know that in sales prospecting it can take 9+ attempts to get a prospect to return your call. If you give up after only 6 or 8 attempts, you’ve wasted your time.

This metric is compounded when you don’t have any Recognition ROI in your target market. Keep at it. Be the bloodhound until you can’t be ignored.

3. Carry on running lead generation campaigns.

Many business owners initially give a lead generation campaign 90 days to 6 months to perform.

A new prospect list and a new target market take a minimum of 6 months to notice you. On average, we’re seeing that it can take 9 months for contacts to start responding.

Rather than change everything, stay the course. Give your lead generation time to get noticed before you make major adjustments.

With a new prospect list, you have to keep at it, persistently, consistently. Don’t give up. Stay focused. Suddenly things start popping. Email click-through rates increase. More prospects respond to emails. Appointments start coming.

What to do if lead generation still isn’t working

Does this mean that you should wait a year or more if nothing is happening and you have a target to meet?

Definitely not.

But before you claim that “nothing” is happening in your lead generation, take a closer look at the metrics to be sure. “Nothing” means no opens, no clicks, no responses, no conversations, no appointments.

Poor results are more frequently an indicator of a cold prospect list where you are slowly building recognition for your company and your offerings. And the only solution to poor results is time.

What you should do

If you keep focusing on your target market, making minor tweaks, studying the trigger events generating even minor results, perfecting your approach, using the message you’ve created, expanding on the message, building your list, communicating with your list, posting new blog posts to LinkedIn, calling, asking for referrals, gathering testimonials, promoting testimonials – doing the lead generation and prospecting, it will work for you.

There is no magic pill that will transform your sales pipeline. Only consistent, persistent lead generation will do that.

If you’re feeling frustrated and would like assistance with your lead generation or in assessing your current lead generation results, we can help. Contact us or schedule a call. We’ll put a plan in place that fits your target market and your company. You should never have to wonder where your next client will come from or when.

Photo: Vitalii Vodolazskyi / Shutterstock

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Kendra Olney Lee

Posted by Kendra Olney Lee

Revenue Generator Kendra Lee is author of The Sales Magnet and founder of KLA Group, a sales consultancy and marketing agency that helps MSPs get seen, get heard, and get traction in their markets.


  1. Very thorough article, thank you!


  2. I completely agree with Kendra! Depending on budget, focus on one or two strategies that can be fully funded for 9-12 months before generating ROI. All too often, the budget and effort is spread too thin across too many strategies; rendering all of them unsuccessful. Additionally, timing is critical in the MSP/MSSP space! Stick with the prospects – they absolutely WILL need services at some point, and the inclination will be to lean towards the provider who has stayed in touch and therefore benefits from the highest top of mind awareness.


  3. Great article; thank you for sharing! Passing along to our sales team.


  4. Informative article. Thanks!


  5. Going through the learning process of lead generation. Thanks for the article.


  6. always welcome for some new ideas and refreshers on some. great to hear from others


  7. Being on the other side of the prospect conversation; i would add : be honest and true to your prospect.
    MSPs want partnership, not just a good marketing campaign. At least i speak for the European market of trustworthy MSPs


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