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Canned by Marbella developer for sucking at lead generation

A couple of years ago, I was hired by a large, successful Spanish developer to generate leads and help convert them to sales. This is a true story.

Their Marbella sales team had been handed 1000 leads over the course of a year and generated 0 sales from them. Zero.

Marketing blamed sales, sales blamed marketing. Management wanted to know how to fix it.

Those 1000 leads were generated by a very capable and professional in-house marketing team, accustomed to generating leads for their other projects, and seeing those leads convert to sales.

In the absence of intermediary KPIs between lead volume and sales, they were left wondering where they were going wrong.

The difference, in this case, was that these projects were more expensive than what they were used to generating leads for and that we were in the later stages of the first wave of the pandemic.

So these were the variables:

  1. Where the leads any good
  2. Was the sales team following them up properly
  3. Was the CRM they were using good enough
  4. Was the product itself any good
  5. Was the product too expensive for this type of lead gen (that’s a whole other story)
  6. Was that the right time to find out

This is what happened.

For the sake of putting things in perspective, by this time I’d previously been involved in hundreds of successful lead generation campaigns of this type in this area for about 8 years, so was very well versed on what you have to do to generate leads in this market, what you have to have in place to convert these leads to sales and what the numbers typically look like.


After setting them up a modern CRM with lots of tracking and nifty sales tools for their team, as well as training them how to use it I worked on adapting the follow-up process (speed to lead & channels) as well as the content and context of the comms themselves.

I didn’t get to find out what difference this would make.

Over a period of 2 or 3 months, I tried generating leads via Google Ads using their landing pages.

I couldn’t generate squat. In the whole period, I think I only managed to generate about 10 leads at a cost of about 800 euros each. Each. 800 euros.

People looking for this type of property in this location were arriving at the landing page, but they were not converting.

Whatever they were doing to generate those x1000, leads that the sales team were unable to convert to sales suggested the level of intent was very low on those leads and this was made worse by the fact that the sales team knew that the leads were “$h!t” (their words) so followed them up expecting them to be bad leads.

Yes the landing page was a bit ropey and it offered too much information, I won’t deny it. But this wasn’t the issue. The lead volume was much too low for it to be the landing page and the fact that by giving them all the info about the development they were not interested in it was valuable intel in itself.

Anything I did from then onward to get more leads from this setup would have meant lowering intent, making the development sound better on the landing page than it was, and essentially passing the problem to the sales team for them to convert these leads to sales.

I resisted, telling the developer my honest conclusion: that the product in its current state was not of interest to their target market, at that time.

So my view was that, in a way, both the marketing and sales teams were to blame, the former for producing low intent leads and the latter, I guess, for giving up on them. And both these teams are otherwise extremely professional.

Sometimes it just comes down to this: in the absence of intermediary metrics between lead and sale, those generating the leads go for volume and low cost per lead.

These are handed to sales teams as hot leads and we get what is sometimes called the Lead Generation Gap (more about this here )

In fact, this is the most common reason lead gen campaigns like these fail: marketing claims the leads are OK, it’s the follow-up by the sales team that sucks, and you guessed it, the sales team said the leads were rubbish.

So coming back to the variables, in this case, this was my take:

  1. Where the x1000 leads any good – nope
  2. Was the sales team following them up properly – nope
  3. Was the CRM they were using good enough – nope
  4. Was the product itself any good – so-so
  5. Was the product too expensive for this type of lead gen – yes 
  6. Was that the right time to find out – nope

And yes, I (rightfully) got fired from the gig.

The truth hurts.

But you know what, sometimes it’s just bad timing.

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