Sales lead generation – what we learned last year

Sales lead generation – what we learned last year

We reviewed all our mature client campaign performance in 2021. Results were consistent with previous years, but this year we did a big more analysis and discovered some surprises:


What drives conversion in sales lead generation

  • We continued to use a variation of our 2020 multi-channel (LinkedIn and email) approach. We learned a few things along the way:
    • eMail deliverability is best with Google Workspaces. Nearly as good with Microsoft 365. Everything else (MS Exchange on premise, proprietary Linux based SMTP/IMAP) is dramatically worse.
    • Smart folder categories (e.g. emails marked as “promotion”) are the big enemy of deliverability, and not the SPAM folder.
    • New sandboxed email domains can be made sales-engagement-ready within a month — we do much more of this now.
  • Email reply rate is the single biggest indicator of number of SQL (Sales Qualified Lead, a.k.a. “QMA – qualified meeting attended”) meeting conversion rate (R= 0.67).
Process Analysis
What drives more meetings
  • LinkedIn acceptance rates correlate moderately with the number of emails (R= 0.27) and likewise have a modest impact on SQL conversion. However, those that answer an email and convert to an SQL are not necessarily the same ones that accepted a LinkedIn invitation.
  • Using German language on Linkedin has no impact on LinkedIn acceptance  (R = 0) but using German in the email has a strong positive impact (R=0.65) on email response which ultimately increases conversion substantially. (we have a strong focus on German speaking markets)


What is the average conversion rate

In regards to conversion rates (leads/SQL), we see that 100 (or conversion rate of 1%) is our average (exact number is 1/94 or 1.07%) with a range between 1/50 and 1/200 – this matched our intuition.

What is the range of conversion rates in 2021


What worked, what didn’t work

Interesting is what types of clients/campaigns are at the more or less productive ends.

In the most productive category, we see a lot of manufacturing B2B or other heavy industry – we now have enough clients in these areas to say this definitively.

In the lowest productivity area (excluding clients just starting and finding message-audience fit) are:

  • Targeting large enterprise IT directors and CDOs – we guessed that this would be an over targeted audience and it continues to be true, or
  • Clients selling huge lifetime value, very long sales cycle, infrastructure software for large enterprises — ERP, CRM, Logistic, Tax…  Conversion rates are low, but these clients see the cost per SQL as far lower than alternative lead generation techniques despite the lower conversion rates.


What we will do in 2022

For this next year, we will do some experimentation around mixed language emails (e.g. use Italian for leads in Italy, but being transparent about the fact that we are not native speakers). In addition, we will work with more technology companies expanding into Europe – that don’t need to sell to IT managers and especially those that target manufacturing and heavy industry. If you fit that description, give us a call – we have got a good lead machine for you!

We help high-tech B2B companies book more meetings in DACH, grow their sales funnel and close more deals.

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