Sales Management
AVOID THE SALES LEAD TRAP

by Bette Price, CMC

   Checked your database lately? Well, you might want to do just that considering this startling statistic: 93% of hard-earned sales leads placed into a database are never‹that's right‹never‹followed up.
   According to industry studies 80% to 93% of the sales leads that a company's marketing department generates for their sales forces are never acted upon. Unfortunately, they get placed in a database and forgotten. This study substantiates the old sales adage that a sales person's rolodex is gold, waiting to be discovered. As the sales team's leader, it's your responsibility to give life to these leads to avoid having your sales team operate in the "seven percent" world of leads.

   Here are some ways to avoid this trap:

  • Before leads are put into a database, be sure their value is conveyed to the sales reps so they will know what to expect when calling on them. Without defining and communicating the value of the leads, your sales people may as well be making cold calls.
  • Be accurate in defining whether the lead is an A, B, C, or D lead. No spin here. That only serves to demoralize the sales rep and prompts them to think that all other leads may be overvalued.
  • Institute a systematic follow-up plan into your lead generation plan. A cat may have nine lives, but your leads don't. They require systematic, frequent follow-up or they'll either die a quick death or end up as somebody else's customer.
  • Sleeping bags are in order. Prepare your sales team for the long haul. Even in a good economy, major decisions are not impulse buys. Even when the buyer knows and likes you, it can still take 4 to 6 contacts before they buy. When they have no familiarity with you or your product/service it's not unreasonable to expect 10 to 12 contacts before a prospect will even consider closing the sale. It's your job to prepare your sales team for the long haul and the importance of not giving up.
  • Design special sales campaigns that are memorable with relevant follow-up procedures your sales people can explain. Brilliance is great, but it evaporates fast. Remember, your prospects get tantalizing offers from your competitors as well. Don't expect them to remember your brilliant campaign any longer than the next one that crosses their desk. Instead, build relevancy into a frequent follow-up so that you continue to stand out.
  • Finally, as you cull out that 93% of leads that never got followed up on before, weed out everything but the top 10 percent‹the one's that are truly viable. From hereon out, only add quality, qualified leads to the database and make sure your sales people continue to call on them until they buy or die.

   A seven-percent follow-up rate is totally unacceptable when it comes to sales leads that were likely difficult to attain, qualify and distribute. As the sales team leader, you know your team can do better than that. Now go make it happen.