Lost Opportunities Analysis
We analyzed a total of 1,619 unique B2B leads generated in one year for 40 tech companies across 96 in-person and virtual events. The aim was to identify exactly how much opportunity was being wasted – and why.
This Analysis focuses specifically on the 930 “Opportunities Lost” from these events to shed light on common scenarios sales reps found themselves in and the reasons why buyers didn’t move forward. These takeaways will help you make sure you aren’t also potentially leaving money on the table.
At a glance:
- Participants for each of these events were senior-level decision-makers with the power to advance deals.
- They invested time in attending these events – between 1 to 3 hours
- There was additional time invested in resulting evaluation processes, with multiple touchpoints before they were considered lost.
So, why would over 900 of these high-level leads not become opportunities? What could have changed to lower that “lost” count?
- VP – 64%
- Directors – 19%
- CXOs – 17%
The Three Steps to Becoming an Opportunity:
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Before we dive in, let’s briefly define what we mean when we say “MQL”, “SQL”, and “Opportunity”.
Engagement to MQL
MQL to SQL
SQL to Opportunity
Marketing Qualified Leads. In this playbook, an MQL means someone in the right company, in the right buying or influencing role, who actually shows up.
Sales Qualified Leads are just MQLs that Sales has qualified through at least one and possibly multiple meetings. An SQL may not proceed to proposal right away, but meets the BANT or other criteria of the selling company.
And Opportunity is where the salesperson has reason to believe that the prospect is not only qualified but has active interest in pursuing the next steps.
We looked at a subset of 50 leads as they journeyed through the above stages. We then compared those lost along the way to those that were successful to see what salespeople could have done better.
Engaged and became an MQL
While the leads viewed in this subset were all considered MQLs, there’s a lot of information which can be extracted from those that weren’t. Why did other potential leads not respond or not want to attend? In most instances, it fell heavily on the topic chosen for an event’s discussion.
We dug deeper to understand the issues at play. In instances where these factors were most egregious, wish lists were often produced based on basic knowledge from the salesperson or on demographic numerical values. None of the host companies understood the impact of pain and how deep it runs into their target organizations from the start. Therefore, the topics chosen became more self-serving in nature, i.e., focused on the host’s offerings. This is because, without a plan for addressing pain points, positioning before and during an event easily turns into a sales pitch. No one wants to sit through an ill-disguised sales pitch, and anticipation of one lowers interest.
It doesn’t require the biographical knowledge of every potential contact to get it right. Higher response and participation rates were seen in companies that had just a bit more depth in their understanding of the needs and focus areas of their target market. They took the time to think about what would resonate with the potential client and used that to shape the topic as a way to start the conversation, instead of trying to craft a conversation based on offerings and potentially misaligned target roles.
MQLs were missed when:
- The topics did not resonate with the targeted audience and companies. If topics don’t resonate, prospects will not respond.
- The topic and conversation became clearly self-serving and not focused on the target audience’s pain points.
- Sellers and marketers wanted buyers to admit on a few predefined qualification metrics.
Moved from MQL to SQL
70% of these MQLs were qualified by sales.
Why weren’t all of these “right company, right role” attendees bestowed SQL Status?
We found five main factors that contributed to the lack of conversion to SQL (see list).
Of course, in many instances, it’s not intentional, and may even happen unknowingly. Bringing attention to these top factors can avoid unconsciously sidelining opportunities. By using the event time to actively listen, and dig deeper into participant pain points, environments, and potential blockers instead of making assumptions based on other accounts, you’ll learn what you need to know to properly qualify them. Avoid turning it into a one-sided ‘conversation’ that may as well be a presentation.
Hosts that asked thoughtful questions to initiate conversation geared toward understanding and addressing pain points were able to qualify more buyers. Indeed – we saw an overall increase, because when hosts took this approach, buyers were more likely to feel confident enough about the seller to spend more time evaluating options and discussing them internally.
Top 5 Reasons MQLs didn’t become SQLs
The attending sales rep:
- Did not actually listen to the prospects during the session.
- Did not try to understand the environment they operate in.
- Did not get a full picture of specific prospect pain points.
- Avoided asking probing questions to understand potential blockers.
- Simply looked at the company and came up with a prejudice that the deal may not be worth anyone’s time.
Moved from SQL to Opportunity
Reality is: buyers don’t care what you call your product or how awesome and cool the underlying tech is. Buyers care about the ROI you can bring them, and whether you demonstrate that in their environment after you understand it.
When intelligence is properly gathered before and during an event by using probing questions and digging deep, the odds of turning SQLs into opportunities can skyrocket.
Why? Because the sales rep will already have critical information about the buyer before the next meeting. They’ll know what the buyer needs and position accordingly.
Why did these SQLs not become an Opportunity?
We found several instances where the final efforts needed in order to lock them in weren’t fully exerted:
- The Sales Rep was underprepared and simply relying on the assumption of enough buyer intent.
- They leaned only on interest from buyers instead of continuing to convey value.
- They didn’t fully understand the buyer’s thought process or perception.