The 5 reasons why lead generation fails

Hacked BD icon logo
Hacked BD
March 22, 2024

What exactly is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of filling the top of your sales funnel. It can be managed internally, or externally by companies like Hacked BD.

It can be run through channels like email or LinkedIn, over the phone through cold calling, or in person at conferences. Lead generation can be manually run by business development staff, or automated like the systems that we build.

Business development has been working for companies of all shapes and sizes forever. Technology has changed the way that it works a bit, but fundamentally you’re still trying to get a compelling message in front of your ideal prospect.

Hacked BD believes that there are only 5 reasons that lead generation fails, and we’ll go into each of them in detail:

1. The message doesn’t reach the target
2. The message is not reaching the right target
3. The message doesn’t resonate with the target
4. The company doesn’t have a compelling value proposition
5. The campaigns are ended before they have time to be optimized

If your lead generation efforts aren’t producing the results you want you should test and measure the five points above. The lack of success has to be caused by one of them.

1. Lead generation fails when the message doesn’t reach the target

Your message must get in front of the target in order to have any chance of success. This seems obvious, but it is absolutely crucial that you find a way to quantify that your message is landing where it’s supposed to.

Hacked BD does cold email, so the metrics that we use are email delivered % and % open rate. These metrics are the percentage of emails that reach the intended recipient and the percentage of intended recipients that open our message.

Our team tests email infrastructure, sending volume, subject lines, preview text, and email quality to improve these numbers if they are not what we’re hoping for.

If our message is landing and being opened by the target you can check off point 1, we know this isn’t the reason your lead generation efforts are struggling.

2. Lead generation fails when the message is not reaching the right target

Don’t confuse reaching a target with reaching the right target.

Your campaigns could be going to the right person at the wrong type of company or the wrong person at the right type of company. If you really don’t have it right you could be targeting the wrong people and company type entirely.

This isn’t always as obvious as it seems - it can be difficult to find the right purchasing function for your product. Most companies like going top down, because if you get buy-in from the CEO you are likely to have a successful business development process. Some companies give decision making authority to other people, and it’s important that you figure out who those people are.

Finding the right company doesn’t sound hard, but it can be. You can find companies in the right industry, with the right headcount, and in the right geographic location quite easily, but those are not the only criteria that matter.

Finding businesses that are in the correct headspace for what you’re offering can be trickier, but if you get that part right you’ll have a lot more success.

This could mean finding companies with patented technology, companies that have a certain growth trajectory, companies that have been funded specific amounts, companies facing new regulations, companies that only accept certain types of customers, or even just companies that have a certain type of brand reputation.

Hacked BD aggregates data from hundreds of sources, has the data analyzed by artificial intelligence, and then has the data checked by our team to ensure we’re finding companies in the right headspace for our clients.

Then we segment different types of contacts into different campaigns and run A/B tests to see what targets are going to be the best fit. This process ensures that we are reaching the right targets.

If you are certain that you are finding the right targets you can check off point 2. This is not the reason your lead generation efforts are falling flat.

3. Lead generation fails when the message doesn’t resonate with the target

You can reach the right target while having the right value proposition and still not get the result that you’re looking for. Business development wouldn’t be hard at all if you could just put a compelling value proposition in front of your ideal prospect and get results 100% of the time.

The way you deliver your message matters tremendously, and companies like Hacked BD spend thousands of hours testing to make sure we are communicating the right way. Testing and measuring the results is the only way to know for sure what will and won’t work for you.

The same company can structure their outreach in many different ways. You can talk about company background, your partnerships, success stories, product advantages, product features, etc. You can ask for a phone call, a demo, to start a trial, if they want a piece of content, etc.

The challenge is that you can’t talk about all of those things at once. People won’t pay attention. You have to run A/B tests to figure out what combination of messages or ‘hooks’ will get your prospects to pay attention. You should A/B test regardless of what type of outreach you’re doing.

Our process starts with A/B testing completely different messages and eventually narrows to where we’re testing changes to individual sentences in an email message. This process is built to constantly find small improvements that lead to meaningful results, and it is based on the marginal gains theory.

4. Lead generation fails when the company doesn’t have a compelling value proposition

People have to want what you’re pitching them. You’ll neve be able to get people to buy into an idea, product, or service that they have no need for.

There isn’t that much to talk about on this point - if you have validated that what you’re doing is needed by the people you’re targeting, your value proposition is not why your lead gen isn’t working.

5. Lead generation fails when campaigns are ended before they have time to be optimized

Campaigns only really fail when you give up on them. If you continue testing, making changes, and measuring results, you will eventually be able to hit on the results you want.

Some products are harder to sell than others, some industries require more knowledge to sell to, and sometimes timing plays a factor in why someone will or won’t respond to your outreach.

Every now and then we’ll speak with a company that’s had a bad experience working with a lead generation company where the relationship ended quickly. It’s possible to nail campaigns on the first try, and we’re oftentimes able to do just that, but it isn’t something that you can expect 100% of the time.

Hacked BD doesn’t like to refer to ourselves as a “lead generation company”. We like to think of ourselves as builders and optimizers of automated email systems.

This is a small distinction, but it speaks to our mentality around how we build and manage systems. We know that business development works, and we know that our clients have strong value propositions.

What we do really well is get creative messaging in front of our clients desired targets. We like to work with companies that believe that email will work for them based on their knowledge of their market, and want to find a partner to execute on the details while they worry about building the rest of their business. We find this removes them from the mentality that we can solve all of their business development challenges instantly, and puts them in the headspace that making logical moves based on time tested best practices will produce value for them.


When our team analyzes campaigns we like to break them down like this to make it easy to understand what we need to focus on. It helps us see the areas that require improvement compared to the areas that are doing well.

Oftentimes a new piece of copy or a new lead list is all that’s needed to get a campaign moving in the right direction.

Hacked BD
Share this post