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Without Proper Handling ... Sales Leads Can Seem a Lot More Like Fresh Fish than Fine Wine!

Some Sobering Statistics ...

  • 70% of all Trade Show Leads are never followed up by sales reps
  • 60% of Business-to-Business leads took over 60 days to follow up
  • Advertising studies indicate that 20% of inquiries about your products or services end up purchasing from someone (either you or your competition) within six months and 45% end up purchasing within 12 months

So what is the implication for your Sales Lead Management program?  Speed matters - the first company to respond to a qualified lead stands a better chance of closing the deal.  There are a couple of important reasons for this:
  1. Image enhancement – when you respond quickly and professionally to an inquiry, the account perceives your company as organized and responsive.
  2. Influence the Specs – Responding to an inquiry quickly and qualifying it effectively will uncover potential buying opportunities.
Using a fast systems approach to optimize your Sales Lead Management process will result in:
  1.  Faster response to the inquiry – establish a goal to respond in one manner or another within 24 hours whenever possible.
  2.  Faster qualifying an inquiry – responding to an inquiry is the first step and incorporating a mechanism to qualify the inquiry, based on established criteria received from the sales organization is the next step.
  3. Faster delivery of qualified leads to the ultimate lead owner – Once an inquiry has been qualified and meets the definition of a qualified lead, it is absolutely crucial to deliver this lead to the ultimate lead owner.
Why are leads not routed in a timely manner? Since Lead Distribution is complicated, many companies employ a Segmented Sales Strategy that assigns different sales personnel or teams to specific groups of prospects, such as:
  • Fortune 1000 – Government - Education
  • By Product Line
  • Current customer Base, New business
  • Accounts handled by Direct/Indirect sales channels
Best practice calls recommends creating business rules that identify the ultimate lead owner in their sales organization and use Sales Force Automation (SFA) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to automatically assign the lead to that owner. Sales must provide the input for these rules. If there could be multiple ultimate lead owners, define the preferred methodology to distribute the leads.

It is important to define an exception process: If the Business Rules can’t identify a lead owner, identify the resource(s) within your company that will be the final decision maker for the lead assignment.

Once a lead has been assigned, then the company can either rely on the SFA or CRM software to notify the lead owner they have a new lead, or the company can call, Fax or email the lead owner to check their software for the new lead.  The real issue is that unless a lead is immediately delivered to the correct ultimate lead owner, the inevitable delay lessens the chance of your company making the sale.

Mark Friedman
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