June 18, 2012 by Guest Author
Posted in: sales management
It is the age-old battle between Marketing and Sales. The Sales department doesn’t like the quality of the leads Marketing is producing.
Marketing is annoyed because Sales doesn’t treat the leads seriously. Marketing criticizes the way Sales handles the leads and says Sales doesn’t manage follow-ups effectively.
Sound familiar? Rest assured – you’re not the only business grappling with this disconnect. It’s become a fact of life.
A 2011 study by SiriusDecisions found that Sales is unable to follow up on 80% of those leads. This frustrates Marketing because further research from Eloqua says that 80% of those “lost” leads will make a purchase during the next 24 months – either from you or from a competitor.
So why is it so difficult for Sales to follow-up with leads?
- It’s Not Easy as it Appears – Calling leads that have just downloaded a White Paper or following up with leads that met you two weeks ago at a tradeshow should be easy, right? It isn’t. It’s not unusual for Sales reps to get less-than-accurate information — incorrect phone numbers or other bad information that makes contacting them difficult. Why would a Sales rep spend time contacting leads that gave misleading info when they could be preparing proposals or mining other lead resources?
- Only a Few Leads Are Qualified – Marketers realize the vast, vast majority of leads are not qualified to buy immediately. That means a Sales rep will experience a frustratingly high number of rejection. When a Sales rep is rejected enough times, there’s the risk of ….
- Burnout – Even the most talented Sales reps can handle only so much rejection and so many obnoxious people. Eventually, they will burn out and simply stop calling the leads and start emailing them instead – or, in some cases, ignore then altogether.
- Lack of “Killer Instinct” – There are many legitimate explanations a salesman can give a manager for not following up with leads. This one isn’t: Many salesmen aren’t aggressive enough. They tune out when given a lead that “might be interested” and move on to the next prospect without calling. It can be even worse in failing to aggressively follow up with a customer. We recently ran a White Paper marketing campaign, and we were extremely discouraged to learn that after 4 days, our sales reps had only attempted to contact 12% of the leads more than once. That means 86% (MATH – 98%) of the leads generated by our campaign received one voicemail or a quick email.
- No Process – Without effective CRM solutions it is very, very difficult to accurately track a large number of leads with any consistency. Leads fall through the cracks without a process spearheaded by a CRM. It should be understand that prospect status and notes within a CRM are updated regularly. You should have a rule that all leads receive a phone call within an hour. Have a system in place so when leads start flowing everyone knows what to do.
- Low Levels of Accountability – Our Marketing department is responsible for ensuring our Sales reps stay focused on leads. This is a unique approach. Here’s why we do it: if one of our marketing managers is running a campaign out of his budget (a campaign that he’s ultimately responsible for), is there anyone else who will have more ownership of those leads than him? No one cares more about those leads than the marketer who produced them. Therefore, our marketers are given free rein to implore our Sales team until they contact the leads. It is horizontal accountability. Marketers aren’t ‘bosses’ of our sales team, but they are ultimately responsible for the campaigns they spearhead and the leads those campaigns produce.
The other way to ensure accountability is to use some combination of call recording and CRM automation. That way you can track, without question, when leads are being followed-up on.
There is no full-proof procedure to persuade Sales reps to follow up with every lead in a timely manner, but one thing is certain: Understanding the reasons they don’t is vital to fixing the problem.
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