Why aren’t sales leads followed up?

Today we have a guest post from Russ Hill, Founder of Ultimate Lead Systems.
How often have you heard sales people say leads generated by marketing are just “literature collectors, college professors, students, lookers or tire kickers?” Or, “I don’t have time for sales lead follow-up.” Or the sales manager who says, “I know my sales people are following up. They just don’t have time to provide feedback.”
Lead Follow-Up

All carrot no stick

I’ve worked with many companies over the years that made lead follow-up an imperative with their sales forces. In every case where it was required it yielded significant and profitable results reporting hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars in sales.

There is much discussion in internet groups about “aligning marketing and sales” and lead follow-up is a critical part of this discussion.

In a recent post, I shared a formula for projecting sales (and a budget) from leads, and discussed the value of leads. “Did you Buy” studies conducted by Thomas Publishing, Penton, the Advertising Research Foundation and others revealed the sales potential of  advertising leads. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research showed similar findings for trade show leads. Bottom line … about 67% of all inquiries are from prospects who plan to purchase within 6 months and 1 in 5, or 20%, should buy from you. The logic shouts that if the leads generated are worthless then the promotion investment was a waste. It follows then that if research has proven that leads are indeed valuable then the waste comes from not following up. So why aren’t sales leads followed up?

The most successful sales managers I’ve worked with partnered with marketing and focused their efforts on educating their sales force in four specific areas:

  1. The value of leads (research) and the marketing effort/rational behind the campaign.
  2. Training on effective lead follow-up and qualification techniques.
    (What makes a “qualified” lead a qualified lead?)
  3. Communicating clear, realistic expectations regarding lead follow-up.
  4. The need for feedback for Continuous Performance Improvement.

Of course, the companies each took different tactical approaches, but the fundamentals remained the same. Managing a sales force is a tough job and aligning sales with marketing is a challenge. But good sales people won’t ignore new business opportunities and good sales management won’t allow it.

Why aren’t sales leads followed-up? There are a number of reasons but the big one is this: When sales lead follow-up isn’t required by management it just won’t happen.

How well are you following up on your sales leads?

This post originally appeared on the Ultimate Lead blog and is reposted with permission. 

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