The Lead Generation Trap

As a business owner and also as someone who helps businesses grow, I often see very questionable actions taken on the part of business owners or presented to them.   Sometimes they are rather innocuous or expensive.  Sometimes a play on words without substance attracts a business owner and like a fish drawn to a lure, they strike.  Thousands of dollars in worthless marketing goes out the window.  I say out the window because those spending the money cannot describe or identify the slightest accurate return on those dollars.  I cannot call that Return on Investment because as it turns out…it wasn’t an investment.  This is very true for those who buy into the hype surrounding lead generation and the promises of many many leads for the business.  In these instances, the business owner  just fell for the “Lead Generation  Trap”

In the last few months, I have been on the receiving end of a common solicitation.  These people know nothing of my business, they don’t know anything about what I do.  Yet, they send me an e-mail, with the Subject Line, “Lead Generation Program”, worded like this:


I’d like to know if your company can use some help with cold calling
prospects and setting appointments for your salespeople. We perform such
services and apart from helping boost your local business we can even expand
your reach by looking for potential national customers.

If you’re available this week, I’d be happy to talk to you to discuss more
about our services. Just let me know how best to reach you.


What an amazing solicitation.   A canned one, no personalization, no interest in my business, but the underlying message is…pay me money to call people for you and get appointments.

Let me begin by saying I believe cold calling to be the single greatest waste of time that anyone in marketing can undertake.  I call it marketing because the purpose of marketing is to reduce the cost of sales.  These people are attempting to convince you that they will give you leads that will result in more sales.  Cold calling isn’t sales so marketing is the only thing it can be.  Cold calling means exactly that, you call someone cold…out of the blue, and attempt to interest them in something you don’t even know they need or want.  They may not even know they need or want it.  Further, they may not even be able to buy what you have.

Why would anyone engage a service such as this is beyond me.  Oh, they may well get me lots and lots of appointments.  But by their knowing nothing about my business, nothing about my services and nothing about the geography of where I operate, they are wasting my time (and money) and the time (and money) of anyone else who contracts with them.

Those who engage in this activity will undoubtedly challenge my position and disagree.  Good for them.  But in that this is a marketing effort, let’s see how effective it is.  So ask these questions:


1.  What is the upfront cost to you if you engage in this?

2.  How much does it cost you to conduct the sales calls this obtains for you (time, travel, materials, etc.)?

3.  How many sales did you get (new business)?

4.  What is the gross sales of that new business?

5.  What is the profit from those sales?


To begin with, if you cannot answer those questions you are throwing your money away.  In fact, any marketing effort you purchase should be able to provide you with the answer to those questions.  If it isn’t giving you a positive return in NEW BUSINESS you are wasting your money.

I don’t like waste.  As a Business Owner, you shouldn’t either.  In the scenario above the only person not experiencing waste is the one you are paying to create waste for you.

Think about that the next time someone says to you….I can get you more Leads … Ask them to demonstrate the true value that.

 Don’t buy into the hype.