Managing sales leads to deliver results
So you've done the hard work and got a stream of qualified sales leads – why does it all go wrong from here?
After much gnashing of teeth and hours spent justifying the investment and calculating your required return on investment, you have spent your hard-earned marketing money to generate a stream of sales leads – whether telemarketing, exhibitions, seminars, online or offline advertising, direct response advertising or directory listings they all have one thing in common, they are expensive and the investment has to be justified.
Now you have your leads
Whatever the source, you are now the proud owner of a stream of (hopefully) qualified sales leads, unfortunately our experience is that this is just the beginning and on its own it does not mean that this will automatically translate into sales.
A CRM system is key building block
Perhaps the most critical task you can do once you have got the leads is to make sure that you capture all the information about these leads onto a database in a way that is going to allow your sales team to easily access and update this information and in a way that is going to allow you to track and monitor the progress of these leads as they are developed. This can be done using any one of the many sophisticated CRM systems that are available or by developing your own database. Now is not the place to evaluate the various CRM systems that are available or to assess the relative merits of using an off-the-shelf package vs. the DIY approach, suffice to say that either way it must happen!
Many companies fall down on this – wasting time and money!
Unfortunately many companies appear to skip this key building block in their sales management process and as a result they are inefficient in following up leads and they lose visibility of progress causing many expensive and hard won leads that could have converted into business to be lost. This is nothing short of a criminal waste of precious marketing resources but our experience is that it happens all too often in organisations of all shapes and sizes.
Not all leads are created equal
You must classify your leads depending upon their potential worth to the business and your probability of winning the business. If you do this you can allocate your resources and prioritise accordingly. There is little point having your expensive field sales people chasing up business that your desk sales people could do or that you have little chance of winning.
Somebody has to be accountable for every lead
You can not fudge ownership of leads, this is where sales and marketing teams come together and it is where they have to work effectively to prevent potentially good leads going cold. In cricketing parlance somebody has to shout “mine" and catch the ball. To some degree it doesn't really matter who does this as long as somebody does and they take accountability Without this clear accountability, the urgency in the follow up will be lost as different team members look to each other and nothing gets done!
As somebody once said …"I didn't plan to fail but I failed to plan"
For all leads you must have a contact plan that is appropriate to the class of lead. Equally important is the ability of your sales team to plan and prepare for the sales meeting or sales call itself - the ability of your sales team to close the business once in front of the prospect is another story!
Keep records so you know where you are
Every contact with a lead should be recorded on your database / CRM system. The status of the lead should evolve throughout the sales development process, accurate records must be kept.
This is in activity where most sales people singularly fail!
By nature sales people are generally not good at administration, they are too busy pushing on with the next prospect or out meeting their existing customers – whatever the excuse this is rubbish - you must hold them to account and make them update the system otherwise you are flying blind and you are reliant upon somebody's memory which is all too frequently selective!
And finally, as somebody else once said …"you get what you measure"
Never was a truer word spoken in sales. If you are to maximise the return on your sales leads you must track and report progress and hold people to account! It is unrealistic to expect all leads to turn into business but we have to know that this is not because we haven't effectively managed that lead. Knowing which leads converted and why and which leads didn't convert and why is precious information for future campaigns – record it, nourish it and cherish it!
About the author - Mark Brewerton is responsible for marketing at Broadley Speaking. We provide a full range of business-to-business (B2B) outbound telemarketing, telesales, sales development, appointment setting and lead generation services for our clients. In addition to our telemarketing and telesales services, where our clients want us to help them further, we also provide sales and marketing consultancy services to support the development and implementation of their sales and marketing strategy. For some of our clients, based on our own extensive experience of effective sales, we also provide sales training for their own internal sales teams. Contact us to see how our intelligent sales approach could work for you on 01822 618537 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at http://www.broadley-speaking.com