Thanks for coming back to #salestipsfromAndre! A few weeks ago, I promised to address lead qualification, follow-up, and conversion so here it is.

By: Andre Greco

Until we started #XcelerateSales, I had no idea how simple it was to generate massive amounts of qualified leads. No, really, each and every day, I receive at least three solicitations from “experts” who claim that they can generate more leads for me than I could ever handle (which in and of itself makes no sense.) Yesterday, I received an email and the sender wrote that he could “fill my calendar with appointments, with qualified C-Level executives, while I slept.” I immediately sent him my credit card information and went back to bed. Can’t wait to see my calendar!

There is no shortage of individuals and companies offering lead generation services and strategies these days. What I find startling is the absence of people talking about what one should do with a lead when received. We all want more leads, but what about qualification, conversion to an appointment, and lead tracking. How many times have we heard this; “If we get just one sale from this trade show it will pay for the cost of the show” Pretty simple concept and idea, but how often is it realized? Experience tells us it happens only 17% of the time.

One of the biggest mistakes made by organizations is deciding who should follow up on leads. Ask any salesperson you speak with who they believe should be following up on leads. 99% of the time the answer will be “me”. After 34 years of hiring, training, and managing salespeople I can say, with confidence, that those folks who answered “me” to your question are wrong. All the salespeople reading this just called me an idiot. Who else would you want to follow up on sales leads? My answer is anyone but a salesperson. Let me explain why. Firstly, salespeople should be too busy selling to take on the responsibility of lead follow-up. Secondly, because salespeople like to sell, the tendency is to try and sell the person who showed interest by filling out your lead form rather than simply setting a solid appointment. Lastly, if salespeople follow up on leads, they actually have to enter data into their CRM, and we know what that means!

So, what do you do? It depends on how important leads are to your business. If new leads are not that important then it does not matter who calls (or e-mails) them. But, if you treat leads like requests to buy into Glengarry, you need a specialist. (Yes, that was a sales movie reference) Yes, I said it, a specialist! Lead follow-up is an art. It requires very strong phone skills, research abilities, organization, discipline, and above all NO FEAR! Sorry everyone, but you do not have this person on your sales team or in your marketing department today.  Get yourself an SDR (Sales Development Representative) Even if they do happen to run out of leads, the skillset they possess to do the SDR job with great success are transferrable to just about any other department in your organization. Adding this role to your organization will pay dividends, and also be a big competitive advantage.

Before we discuss lead qualification, let’s first define what a lead is. Ask 20 people and you will get 20 different answers. The definition of a lead is simple. It is a name and a phone number provided by one with some level of interest in your offering. Notice I wrote “phone number” not name and e-mail address. I know it may be archaic thinking (I’m old) but there are folks out there who still actually speak with other human beings over the phone. Yes, it’s true. E-mail follow-up on leads is like betting on the Super Bowl after the game is already over. It’s too late and you have no chance of winning. Think about it. How many e-mails do you get every day? How many do you simply dismiss? Why would you think that the person who filled out your form at the trade show this weekend is any different? If you e-mail and wait for a response, you may be waiting quite a long time. So put down your mouse and dial the phone. Your results will be measurably better.

Because information is readily available to all of us and our buyers are much more educated than at any time in history, it is natural to assume that if one fills out a “request for more information” form, they must be interested in buying. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. But this misconception has created a problem for those looking to sell their wares. The problem is over-qualification. We try to get so much information and ask so many qualification questions that, in many cases, we turn off the potential buyer before we can have a true selling conversation. In any repeatable and sustainable sales process, the goal is to move each opportunity from one stage of the sales process to the next, without having any gaps in our sales strategy. The lead-to-appointment stage is no different. The singular objective when following up on a sales lead is simple. Set an appointment. It is incumbent upon the sales team to uncover the buyer’s hot buttons, share a compelling story, craft a solution, and close the business. If no appointment ever transpires from the lead, the chance of selling something is zero. Will every appointment be great and turn into business? No, but as a sales guy, I would rather have an appointment to go to versus reviewing my pipeline with my sales manager. Ugh! The worst-case outcome, if a salesperson can get in front of a potential buyer, is that they have the chance to start building a relationship face-to-face, they could get a referral to another buyer, or be able to refer this buyer to one of their alliance partners if they cannot deliver a complete solution.

Key Takeaways

  • Hire a Sales Development Rep to do all lead follow-up
  • Call the leads. Do not e-mail
  • Don’t over-qualify
  • Set an appointment

#xceleratesales, #fractionalsalesleadership, #salesqb, #salestipsfromAndre, #convertthoseleads, #hireansdr, #phonenotemail

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