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Part I: Do your Sales Leads Work as Hard as You Do?

Posted by on in Sales Lead Management
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Companies spend millions of dollars trying to identify qualified prospects for their products and services. What happens once a prospect “raises its hand” and indicates some level of interest in what the company has to say? Some sobering industry information may be illuminating.

A Harvard Business School study found that fully 80 percent of the sales leads generated from marketing programs are never followed up by the sales organization. In a similar study, Performark, Inc. found, “As much as 90 percent of a business-to-business direct marketing budget may be spent trying to attract leads, and yet a shocking number of those leads are ignored.

Worse yet, of those leads that were actually followed up, over 60 percent were not called until 60 days after the initial contact. Of those leads that were followed up, a large percentage were poorly qualified. Direct marketing studies have shown that poorly qualified leads cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars and increase the cost per lead, since poorly qualified leads are less likely to result in a sale.

Taking a long, hard look at your current sales lead processing procedures may be the best first step toward increased sales.  Here are a few areas to look at first.

Prospect Database

Your prospect database should record and keep as much lead source information as possible. If one of the desired end results from a closed-loop sales lead management system is a suite of reports that helps management evaluate the effectiveness of each marketing activity, make sure your prospect database is set up to record the source of the lead and how it came to you (phone call, bingo response, Web, business reply card, etc.). Make sure this source information stays attached to the inquiry from the beginning of the sales process all the way to the end.

There are four specific areas of information that are required in order to build a successful marketing effectiveness reporting capability:
  1. Campaign Type - Identifies the type of marketing campaign responsible for stimulating a response.
  2. Campaign or Project Name - Identifies the name of the specific function/project.
  3. Source - Names the specific source from which an individual response was derived (purchased list, an internal list, etc.).
  4. Response Vehicle - Defines the response medium through which the respondent contacted the company, web, phone, email, etc. This could also be the web landing page created for the Campaign. 

Quick Response

Quick, personalized response to an inquiry creates a very positive image for a company; it is often the first measure a prospect has of how professionally the company operates. Each company should set a goal to send out the requested information within 48 hours initially, with a long-term goal of 24 hours. If the inquiry was initiated from your web site or an individual landing page, an auto-response email should be sent immediately. It is important that the company responds with the information requested, incorporating a customized greeting and letting the person know how to contact the company if there are any questions or interest.

A company should use the source information described above plus the qualification information described below to determine how it will respond to each inquiry: Will the respondent receive a full literature pack or just an e-mail? If there is a link to additional information, which link should be included. In either case, the prospect receives information, but those who stand a better chance of becoming customers receive the more appropriate and customized fulfillment package. Not only will you respond quickly, but over time you will be able to increase your response rate, your close rate and reduce the cost to respond to your prospects.

Watch for our Blog post - Part II: Do your Sales Leads Work as Hard as You Do? in the June.

Mark Friedman
© 2011

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