• Although lead quality is important, most discussions about what constitutes quality fail to consider the most important dimension
  • Organizations are right to focus on quality over quantity, but unless they correct their definition of quality, they are likely to end up with fewer leads, and those leads will not provide opportunities and revenue
  • To be a useful discussion, the quality vs. quantity debate must include an understanding of buying groups

“A man is not a good man to me because he will feed me if I should be starving, or warm me if I should be freezing, or pull me out of a ditch if I should ever fall into one. I can find you a Newfoundland dog that will do as much … His goodness must not be a partial and transitory act, but a constant superfluity, which costs him nothing and of which he is unconscious.”

Thoreau Life In the Woods

Two things inspired this blog post: First, I recently happened across the above passage from Henry David Thoreau, which I liked so much when I was 18 that I made it my yearbook quote. It’s as wonderful a sentiment today as it was when he wrote it and when I first discovered it, so I was anxious to share it.

Second, just in the past month, I have seen numerous blog posts and other articles from my fellow B2B marketing and sales gurus talking about how organizations should focus on the quality of leads they are producing, not the quantity. But I have not seen any mention of buying groups in these discussions, and that absence enfeebles such discussions.

So, borrowing some phrasing and meter from good old H.D. Thoreau, I submit that “A lead is not a good lead to me because he or she enjoys a lofty title. Nor is a lead a good lead to me that the person named therein should come from the greatest of target accounts. Nor, come to that, is a lead a good lead because the person in question, however great or small in title or company, gorges on my content. Marketing automation systems the world over are full to overflowing with content-gorged, dead-end leads from marvelous titles and awesome accounts.”

A lead is a good lead to me if, and only if, he or she should come to my attention as a member of a buying group — one with the resources and intention to purchase such a thing as I sell.

That is to say, a lead — whatever the title — may aspire to be a good lead to me if it comes from a good-fit account. But it only achieves the status of good lead to me when I have evidence that such an individual travels not alone but with a group of likeminded buying group members. This evidence may come in the form of anonymous intent signals on other websites (good), on my website (excellent), or in the form of other leads (very exciting indeed!). But that lead’s goodness is maximized in my eyes when all such indications are present.

And here I return to the question of quality and quantity. If your organization’s buying groups include three or more people (and for many of you it is five or more), then a single lead, even from a person of great stature in a great account will rarely constitute a quality lead by itself. When an organization is considering whether a good-fit account is really demonstrating interest, quantity rules. More leads and more anonymous traffic, when take together as signals from a single buying group, far outweigh the perceived quality of anyone individual acting alone.

If you are uncertain of the role of buying groups in your business, give us a call or drop us a note to plan a discussion. Or come see us at any of the many events at which my colleagues and I speak. If you are a client, we strongly encourage you to see the content below and to begin exploring the role buying groups play and how recognizing and capitalizing on them can drive next-level performance.

Public Resources:

The SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall™

Intelligent Growth Playbook: The SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall Family®

OnDemand Webcast: Account-Based Marketing and the Power of Buying Groups 

Client Resources:

Core Strategy Report: The Demand Unit Waterfall™

Identifying and Overcoming Buying Group Blindness

Identifying and Resolving Second-Lead Syndrome in Demand Management

Capturing Buying Group Dynamics in the Buying Decision Process


And check out Thoreau. He had an idea or two worth considering.