We’ve spent about 10 years in the lead generation marketing business. Over that decade there are some realities in lead generation that have become clear.

These realities are often poorly understood, yet they dictate so much of the marketing experience that sharing them is an important aid against frustration and lost capital.

First Reality: Market Size Matters.

There are, at times, very inflated visions of how large markets are, should be, and can be in many company’s marketing plans. I do encounter some conservative views in this, yet those takes tend to be few and far between. Most times, a deep study of the real market for a product is undervalued and never undertaken.

What passes for a market evaluation is the simple count of a role or position in the market. We hang our hats on the demographic tally. What a grievous error done by the ill informed!

What about product fit? What about buying inclination? What about incumbent solutions? Scratching the surface is simple work; digging deeper into the market takes time, but builds a greater reality of the possible market for your solution.

The reality is that markets are defined by more than the possible candidates demographic. They’re also affected by the realities of the buying cycle, the timing of pain, the amount of competition, and even opportunities that arise for no other indication.

The bottom line is that lead generation marketing as we know it does not exist in a market pool of less than 100 opportunities. If your market is realistically 100 buying opportunities, you can put all of those possible opportunities into a list and follow an ABM or aggressive sales approach.

Takeaway: Get real about your market size. Get narrow on your buyer persona. Get detailed. Go as far as to create a detailed list of how many potential customers there might be in a space. You should be able to get into a /- 5% count of your true market size.

Second Reality: Marketing as Air Raid and Sales as Hand-to-Hand Combat.

Based on the size of your market, the second reality is that lead generation might best be described using a war metaphor: if you’re contacts are all hunkered down, busy C-Level execs or directors who are being “bombarded” with requests from your competitors and their day-to-day operations, you need to adjust your strategy. The air raid of inbound marketing or demand generation will not reach them.

They are not coming out of the foxhole to look around (via SEO and social media) for solutions. You need to get some boots on the ground (a sales team) and go in after them. This is especially true in enterprise accounts.

If you followed that, the basic premise is this: if you have a small, known target, mass impact activities (demand generation and inbound) are inaccurate. A targeted solution with direct contact will win every time. A sales enablement strategy will allow marketing and sales to combine efforts and push into the accounts together to go after the sales target.

With the two forces working together, you’ll achieve better results and approach the target with more accuracy and impact. Over and out.

Takeaway: Pick the marketing and sales approach that works for your real market size and focus. Get real about what is needed to win and what the results will bring you.

Third Reality: Being Special is Good, Being Remarkable is Better.

The last one is a bit of a pill to swallow. Technology is moving our culture and economy into light speed in new directions. Sometimes being first to market is enough to create a market advantage. But being first is rare. Being good is more common. But being remarkable is the cherry on top.

What we are talking about is the value and position you hold in the market. Remarkable products make communicating value very easy because they solve problems in remarkable ways. Good – yet complicated – solutions encumbered by explanations are usually “good” solutions at best. They might solve the problem, but rarely will they have the seamless integration into the market that defines the best, most remarkable products.

There are so many great products created by excited and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. I enjoy the process of working with people who have passion. I appreciate the commitment it takes to launch something new and good into the market. But, while enthusiasm may keep you moving, it’s the quality of the product or solution in the marketplace that truly wins and sells.

All of that is to say that products that don’t create real leaps in value for a customer are hard sells regardless of what technology is being used. Solving one challenge by creating another isn’t value creation; it’s slight of hand. If your product is going to make a company or professional more productive, prove it. If it’s going to save money, prove it. Make sure you have real value in your product – or keep working.

Takeaway: Be remarkable or stay in the laboratory until you are.

Go an Inch Wide and a Mile Deep.

Don’t let the previous message discourage you and deflate your sails. Rather, use it as a reaper’s sickle against complacency in your organizations, and push toward real value in exploring your marketing and sales efforts.

Everyone has a playbook, and everyone thinks they know the backroads. Take that confidence with a grain of salt, and realize that the road is different now. Being in a niche B2B tech business is going to involve critical thinking. It will mean continually building a business development machine to ride down that road to success.

You can do it. You just need to heed these three realities.