Every year, analysts survey salespeople about the challenges they face. You might think that due to the dynamic nature of our business environment, salespeople would face different challenges year by year. But, in fact, the results are relatively consistent.
The survey says….
When asked what is the #1 challenge facing salespeople, the results are clear:
- #1 barrier to sales effectiveness in 2015 is the Lack of Qualified Leads – CSO Insight
- #1 and #3 Top Sales Objectives in 2015 – CSO Insight
- #1 – Capture New Accounts
- #3 – Optimize Lead Generation
- #1 Challenge facing Inside Sales Reps in 2015– Quantity and Quality of Leads – AA-ISP
With that said, one of the greatest struggles of sales and marketing teams is tackling the task of generating more leads that convert to opportunities. But, that’s not the only issue. Sales teams also often wrestle with answering the what, when, and how of leads: “What should I do with these leads? When should prospects be contacted, or should they be placed in a nurture campaign? How do I qualify these leads?”
There are 4 common mistakes sales teams make when addressing these questions:
1. All Inbound leads are Routed to Sales
In the scenario he describes, marketing increases their inbound lead creation from a few dozen leads per month to nearly 500. You’d think WOW – the marketing team is my new hero, right? Well, in most cases the answer is no, simply due to the fact that many of these leads will be unqualified. Included in these leads can be employees of your own company, people who submit fake contact data on your forms just to get your content, or even PhD students doing research for a report.
What Mark wisely suggests is that all inbound leads are filtered first to ensure they are not only legit, but they are also a great fit for your company. This extra step will ensure that these leads get the attention they deserve from sales, while also ensuring that no time is wasted on poor quality leads.
2. Taking too Long to Respond to Leads
Engagement is, in the majority of cases, the most important criteria in determining the quality of an inbound lead. If someone is on your website looking around and is compelled to reach out to you, the clock starts ticking. Literally, that very second.
Craig Rosenberg, aka the funnelholic, took some time to study the impact of responding to leads quickly and published his results in the blog post, Best Practices for Following Up on Inbound Leads. What he found was that if you connect with an inbound lead within 5 SECONDS – YES 5 SECONDS – you are 30% more likely to qualify that lead.
Also, based on research from InsideSales, your connect rate decreases by 10X if you call after the first hour in which a lead is submitted. Based on these studies, it should be obvious that the faster you react, the more likely you’ll be able to connect with your leads.
3. Spending too Much Time on the Wrong Leads
This usually occurs when you have too few inbound leads or you are doing outbound prospecting to generate interest in your product or service.
The way this typically occurs is that reps will naturally be drawn to people that are friendly and will take their call anytime. While this is great for a reps ego, people that are available all day/every day are very rarely decision makers. So, the time invested in talking with them, while not completely wasted, is still misdirected.
Once you have determined your Ideal Client Profile, make sure that you spend your time selectively qualifying leads that meet your criteria. You may find you won’t get as many conversations, but at least the conversations you do get will be with someone for whom your product was built.
4. Not Knowing How to Prioritize Leads
You’ve got your coffee and sit down to start your calling. You do a little mental exercise to pump yourself up, you pick up your phone, and dial the first name on your list.
WAIT! Is that who you should be calling? Based on #2 above, you should call any lead that has come in within the last hour first…and, the sooner the better. Then, you should look through your lead list and sort them by lead score, that is, if you do lead scoring. In this post, Flip Top, provides some helpful tips on how you should prioritize your lead follow-up.
If you are just picking up the phone and thoughtlessly calling with no regard to why and what order – stop – and refocus on a prioritization schedule. Your sales manager should be able to help you with this, too.
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