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Optimizing Sales Leads: From Inquiry to Closure

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

A growing concern for many sales and marketing managers is optimization of sales leads. Each year selling professionals get a plethora of business development leads, unfortunately unearthing less than 47 percent. Worse, over 50 percent remain dormant. Managers postulate, but to no avail. The numbers barely move. In recent research for this article, several clients utilize the Internet for sales leads with less than 5 percent reaching closure. To develop and optimize a productive lead generation program, sales and marketing leaders must formulate a B2B strategic plan.

Content is King.

Problem: Since the dawn of the Internet, information has proliferated our society. Present clients obtain more information about your organization then you realize. Press releases, news stories, earnings, even advertisements all provide analysis of the organization. When a lead finally does reach a selling professional, research illustrates that 87 percent of selling professionals reiterate known content.

Solution: Sales and marketing must formulate strategic client questions that provide client value. Rather than rehash features and claims, new leads are taken through an analysis to better understand needs. An exemplar might provide competitive product samples or packaging. Competitive firms can then provide alternative means and find gaps.

Mom always liked you best.

Problem: Clients today inform all representatives of a lack of time and a lack of interest. In fact, according to CSO Insights, the quality of leads is positively impacting the conversion rate of leads to first calls. Marketing and sales must collaborate on lead completion strategies. These are plans that assist in collecting a myriad of data for lead movement through the pipeline.

To help lead movement, organizational strategies must be developed to understand demographics, geographic, psychographic and behavioral issues. This tool assists sales representatives with a better initial call to comprehend issues. Similar to an archeologist trying to unearth the past, a selling professional has more data to motivate the lead to a next step.

Solution: Provide sales representatives with enough data to move the lead through the management system. Have marketing work with sales to establish the type of content required for your organization. Additionally, clients today require multiple “touch points”. Produce value for prospective leads with white papers, analysis, industry trends, market data reports, EPA analysis etc. When available gain an email address or physical address to send updates to prospects. Constant contact with leads will help convert them into future sales.

Technology for technology sake.

Problem: People today are overwhelmed with technology. Just recently I attended a Blue Man Group concert and the following information was displayed.

General E-mail Statistics

– In 2001, nearly 12 billion email messages will be sent every day Jupiter Communications

– The average number of email messages per day is 32, up 84 percent per year. 

– There are now as many as 170M corporate electronic mailboxes in use, growing 32 percent per year, with 440M mailboxes in total.

Spam Statistics

– In 1999, the average consumer received 40 pieces of spam. By 2005, Jupiter estimates, the total is likely to soar to 2000. – The Standard

– America Online estimates that spam already accounts for more than 30 percent of email to its members – as many as 24 million messages a day. – The Standard

– 7 percent of ISP churn was directly attributed to spam. – Gartner Group

People are simply too tired of electronic commerce. Even though it is faster and least expensive, it is still intrusive.

Solution: Work with marketing to develop a paper and a paperless campaign. Direct mail is on the rise. B2B lead generation techniques need to follow this trend. Conversion rates must increase and the alternative is to remain in contact with leads in a plethora of ways that capture attention. Personalize pieces for maximum benefit. Sales and marketing might develop a cover letter that discusses previous conversations and outlines plans for future action.

Analysis not Paralysis.

Problem: One client recently indicated that over 87 percent of their leads came through the Internet. However, when seeking additional information, we uncovered less than 10 percent of leads closed. There are a number of reasons for this from questions, to demographic data to the foppishness of sales disinterest in the lead. Some representatives have issues discerning what is a good lead and what isn’t.

Solution: More leads are not needed. Sales and marketing need to work together to discern what constitutes a qualified lead as well how to execute the lead to the next step. Each B2B process is different; ensure success by truly understanding how your organizational process works from beginning to end. Do not over analyze try different scenarios to you identify what works well.

No Pain, No Gain.

Problem: Face it selling professionals can get quite frivolous with leads and inquiries in the system. Blame is easily thrown to marketing for poor execution and comprehension. Yet this is a team effort. One does not blame the running back for poor running if the line does not block nor should selling professionals. Inquiry management is a team effort.

Solution: Provide incentives for both sales and marketing professionals. Additionally, performance reviews for selling professionals must include quality of inquiry management information. Exemplars provide full disclosure of prospective clients not simply name and address. Key individuals consistently provide information used by marketing critically analyzed and used to optimize the lead equation.

Present B2B’s use services such as Six Sigma, Balanced Scorecard and a cadre of services to develop, qualify and optimize the business. For many years a division existed between the worlds of sales and marketing invoking territorial behavior. In a shifting global economy, a competitive industrial environment and the knowledge explosion, it does take a village. Too many choices create confusion and lethargy amongst prospects. Rather than count the leads, we need to move them. New methods need be employed to remove the morass that clogs the pipeline.

Categories: General
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