Sales leads and what to do with them has been an age old problem. Today though, there are programs and processes available to help you monitor and mine those precious sales leads. I’ve been associated with Russ Hill from Ultimate Leads for over 20 years. He “gets” the closing the loop issue and I’m glad to share with you some of his thoughts.
According to the CMO Council/BPM Forum survey in Marketing Today, corporate officers who were polled in an online survey believe revenues at their companies could increase by more than 20 percent by improving their prospect cultivation and management techniques. Marketing and C-Level executives are dissatisfied with the way they generate new business, yet more than half lack formal process to correct the problem.
And my guess is that they are not alone. According to the Advertising Research Foundation, 67 percent of industrial product inquiries are from real prospects with real needs, yet 72 percent NEVER hear from a sales person.
Clearly these executives are onto something. Does this sound like your sales team?
Haley Marketing Group cites recent studies indicating that more than 50 percent of sales people stop working a prospect after the first call. The percentage grows to 65 percent after the second call and 80 percent after the third call.
A whopping 90 percent of sales people call it quits by the fourth call. Here is the troubling part – some 70 percent of prospects won’t make a decision until after the fifth call. Are these sales slipping through your fingers too?
To some degree these numbers are easy to understand. Most sales people are like gunfighters interested in the “quick kill.” The study suggests that while companies may be good at generating large volumes of business leads, most opportunities languish because sales people all too often focus on only closing the most promising and qualified short-term opportunities.
Marketing and C-level executives are dissatisfied with the way they generate new business, but still more than half lack a formal process to correct the matter.
Sales and Marketing teams often point fingers at each other as companies struggle with reaching their sales goals. Sale people complain about receiving too many or too few unqualified leads and marketing complains about poor follow-up, lack of feedback, and wasted dollars. In our 25-years-plus years of experience in sales lead management and CRM services, this lack of synergy can usually be traced back to three specific things:
1) A lack of training about each function’s role and challenges
2) Utilizing agreed upon methodology for generating, qualifying and following up on leads
3) Getting everyone to keep their “eye on the prize.”
If Marketing’s job is to identify target markets, communicate the “right” company message and generate viable sales opportunities, then it is Sales’ job to cultivate and sell those opportunities. Who qualifies a lead and when should it be handed off to sales is an important question. Sales and marketing need be in agreement to be successful. Failing to address this important issue can trap management in something I call “the Transition Zone.”
When marketing and sales management work together to establish mutually agreed upon processes and goals, then train their teams to continuously work to both improve practices and to work together, good things can happen – more business can be captured from existing opportunities, ROI improves…and that is good for everyone.
So, the next time you are considering where to look for new business, take a fresh look at your existing prospects and sales leads. Improving your opportunity management practices may be your first and best means of growing your business.