If you find yourself struggling to be effective at generating leads for your firm, you may be in the minority. That said, even if you have a somewhat effective program, chances are good some meaningful challenges persist.
In June 2022, we commissioned some research to better understand the challenges firms face in building high performing lead generation programs and sustaining a strong sales pipeline. 210 consulting firms (primarily strategy, operations, HR, and IT services firms) responded to the survey and offered their insights into how they’re performing, what’s working, and what’s not.
Firms Feel Their Lead Generation Programs are Effective
Most firms surveyed feel their lead generation programs are at least somewhat effective. In fact, nearly 50% of firms believe their lead generation programs are “very” or “extremely” effective, and another 46% say their programs are at least “somewhat” effective. So, while a lot of firms often state they need more leads … the reality is that may or may not always be the case. In fact, I suspect many firms are less frustrated with the quantity of the leads they generate as they are the quality of them.
Despite what we’re all seeing in the headlines – 50-year highs in inflation, rising interest rates, supply chain constraints, and tight labor markets – it appears that consulting firm’s lead generation programs remain strong. 71% of firms said they generated the same amount of leads or more in the first half of 2022 as they did in the second half of 2021. And, 72% of firms tell us their pipeline is comparable in size or larger.
The Best Firms Prioritize Lead Generation Tactics Differently
To gain a better sense of what’s working and what’s not, we isolated those firms who saw their lead generation programs as “extremely effective” and looked at how they responded relative to the broader population of firms. These 29 firms were considered to be leaders in lead generation (isn’t that an awkward phrase).
We asked each firm to tell us, which lead generation tactics they’ve found to be most effective. As it turns out, the leaders are much more likely to find SEO to be an “extremely” effective tactic. I believe this means that they’ve found thought leadership to be a more effective strategy for driving demand and revenue for their firm and are finding it to be a valuable tool to drive interest in the firm’s services from clients they may or may not know.
Yet Sales and Marketing Challenges Persist
Even though many firms feel their lead generation programs are effective, only a minority tell us it’s easy. In fact, a large percentage of consulting firm leaders and marketers still tell us that they find many aspects of lead generation and pipeline development to be “very” or “extremely” challenging.
Many firms continue to find it difficult to focus their marketing resources appropriately, to sustain a high-quality content engine (we already knew that was a big challenge….we built a thought leadership conference to help firms learn how to do it better), and to easily manage their digital marketing campaigns.
At the end of the day, building an effective lead generation program that helps to sustain a high performing sales pipeline is the heart-and-soul of a firm’s very viability. Without a steady drum of new client conversations, your firm will become stagnant and will never fully realize its growth potential. To learn more about this research, and what to do about it, join me on 8/25/22 for a live webinar sponsored by Deltek. In the session, Building a Healthy Pipeline for Your Consultancy, I’ll share 5 ways firms are driving successful lead generation programs right now. I hope you’ll join us.
About the Research
All of the responding firms were headquartered in North America. The majority of respondents were CEOs, marketing leaders, business development leaders, or practice leaders. While 70% of responding firms had less than $50M in revenue, 23% had over $100M. A small percentage, 7%, said they had “no idea” what their firm’s revenue was … sounds like a big problem in building a high performing sales pipeline.