Sales Management

5 Things to Do With Qualified Leads Who Don’t Convert Into Customers

The Marketer’s Guide to Rejection

leads who don't convertIf your company converts 100% of your qualified leads into customers, stop reading now. You’ve learned some magical secret that eludes the rest of us. It’s a known truth that converting website visitors into leads is much, much easier than turning leads into paid clientele. Jason of the ContactMe blog points out that even a prospect “who isn’t 100% ready to [buy] can usually be persuaded to give you their email address.” Even with highly aggressive lead qualifying practices, the best sales representatives might have a close rate of 70–80%.

The leads who appear to have the budget, need, and authority to make the decision but just don’t buy are the bane of B2B and B2C sales representatives everywhere. While the chances that you could salvage the sale could be low, you might be able to gain some insight on just where your smarketing went wrong:

1. Ask Permission to Keep Marketing

We’ve all heard the adage that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than get permission. It’s not true in the realm of email marketing. If you’re treating a lead that’s swirling around the bottom of your sales funnel like a shiny new convert, you could look like a spammer. John Solomon of ChargeBee recommends that you send out an email that contains a “clear link to ‘manage your communications’.” That’s a euphemism for “Unsubscribe.” If your leads open the email but don’t bite, you can continue marketing to them.

2. Collect Data

You want to know what stood in the way of the sale. Why not just ask? Email a survey link to qualified leads who haven’t unsubscribed and figure out what went wrong. Was it the memes you posted on your company Facebook page? Are your costs too high, or is the perceived value too low? The resulting data could sting a bit, but it could also point out some serious weaknesses in your sales or marketing strategies. Solomon recommends ensuring that you include a question about whether they went with a competitor, and why.

Recommended for YouWebcast: Sales and Marketing Alignment: 7 Steps To Implement Effective Sales Enablement

Email the link once, and make sure your survey is really brief. Remember, you’re essentially asking a favor from someone who doesn’t like something about your company. Survey Monkey data indicates that questionnaires that require more than 7–8 minutes aren’t just more likely to be abandoned, they could even result in less thoughtful answers:

leads who don't convert into customers

image credit: HubSpot

3. Reach Out Once More

It’s certainly not cost-effective to have your sales team reach out by phone or send a handwritten note to every lead, but it’s a nice gesture. If they do make contact by phone, ensure the exchange feels less like aggressive telemarketing or surveying, and more like a conversation. Once again, take the time to ask whether they chose a competitor and why.

4. Don’t Spam Them

We know it’s sad to guide leads all the way to the bottom of the sales funnel and then watch them fail to convert. This is still no excuse for turning into a great big spammer and “accidentally” letting people know about every new offer you publish. Pushy tactics can result in bad word-of-mouth referrals, and failing to remove opt-outs from your email list within 10 days can get your company in deep hot water with the Federal Trade Commission. Finally, you should never, ever require leads to complete a survey in order to opt-out.

5. Don’t Throw a Temper Tantrum

Finally, don’t throw a great big fit, especially if your lead has a significant social media presence and a blog. It’s never wise to throw a fit in public or private, regardless of your prospect’s digital influence. Danielle Morrill recently blogged one of the most extreme examples I’ve ever seen of lead salvaging gone wrong:

leads who don't convert into customers

image credit: Danielle Morrill

Remember, the lead is still always right even if they don’t become a customer. Leave well enough alone and focus on releasing a fabulous new offer and courting new prospects all the way to the close.

How does your company salvage and communicate with leads who don’t convert?

image credit: meet pablo gonzalez

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 2

  • Great tips and ideas. Bad venting of anger lol. Great example of what not to do. Something I started doing the other day was actually asking people to join my list, especially if they asked my advice a lot or sad they got value from me. 9 out of 10 times, they will.


  • Excellent article – thanks for the ideas. I especially like renaming “unsubscribe” to something more friendly and sending a link to complete a short survey. I will try to put both of these into practice in my business!

Add a New Comment

Thank you for adding to the conversation!

Our comments are moderated. Your comment may not appear immediately.