Lead Management Beats Lead Generation, Every Time
“Put that Coffee Down! Coffee is for closers.” Blake (Alec Baldwin), Glengarry Glen Ross
Written and adapted by David Mamet and stocked with a powerhouse cast, 1992’s Glengarry Glen Ross is a cult-classic, a must-see movie for anyone who works in marketing and sales. The movie is centered around a real estate sales group and the measures taken by the home office to motivate them. With all due respect to that profanity-laced production, allow us to kindly point out several important aspects of a lead management program that you can use to motivate your salespeople and improve your lead program.
For many B2B marketers, lead flow has all but dried up at the start of 2020’s second quarter. While certainly not the new normal, the ramifications will persist for months to come. And while some will blame COVID-19, the truth is a well-conceived lead management program will help sustain your business during the lean periods. It will also launch your sales past those of your competitors when the recovery begins.
Lead management is much more important to your business than lead generation, which is only one step in the program. A lead management program takes into account a well-defined target audience profile, knowing how many leads your sales team can effectively work in a given period, the generation of quality leads and how they are distributed to your team, lead tracking from generation to sale, and sound CRM for management and reporting.
Your Sales Team
Successful sales managers know their program is only as good as their captive sales team, and a good sales team is based on excellent recruiting and sound sales training. The thought that good salespeople are born to be in sales may be true, but salespeople can be made to be successful, too. Assuming you have a history of hiring personable and intelligent sales professionals and expose them to a rigorous product and industry training program, you are then ready to unleash them on the marketplace – but you really must send them on their way armed with a stack of qualified leads.
Your Target Prospect
Sales prospects can be identified in many ways, geographic location, age, title, company and other demographic identifiers. Today, we can also target buying behaviors, recency, visits to your website, responses or requests for more information and a host of other digitally generated and tracked traits that characterize them as likely to buy. One may construct a profile of preferred targets or base your candidates on the profile of past customers. Whichever criteria is chosen, one must construct a desired profile in order to target, connect with and generate a qualified lead. Against this desired profile, all incoming leads should be compared and scored.
Your Generated Leads
Leads are generated through a variety of means – and from multiple sources with varying degrees of success. Lead quality can range from very low – practically a cold call – to quite high – a potential buyer that has shown a great deal of interest and urgency. The success of your program will depend on how well you identify, qualify, and track each lead from generation through the sale.
“The leads are coming!” - John Williamson (Kevin Spacey) “Give them to me!” -Shelly Levene (Jack Lemmon)
Your Lead Distribution
You have trained your salesforce and identified your ideal prospects. The next step in your lead management program is to define – by each salesperson, ideally – your lead requirements. Even the most seasoned or highly trained sales professional will pre-judge a lead when issued to them. It’s only human nature. A good sales manager will know the number of leads to issue a salesperson within a given period. Give them too many, and they will choose to work those that look the most promising, first. And if time runs out, they will ignore or burn a lead if in their opinion it does not meet their own definition of a good one.
One must know their sales team and the number of leads they can effectively work, then issue them just enough leads to ensure they work them all, completely. Leads cost money. Often, much more than your sales team understands. Unworked leads represent lost income on many levels as they cost money to generate and track, and many could have resulted in sales.
We realize distributor sales forces represent another challenge when it comes to supplying and tracking leads. Some distributors will share manufacturer- or supplier-generated lead results, but usually in the aggregate. Most will not give you the customer’s information or even specify which product they purchased. At best, you fly blind when attempting to manage a lead system with distributor Inside Sales Reps (ISRs) or Outside Sales Reps (OSRs), having to rely only on direct re-orders or anecdotal feedback.
“The leads are weak!” - Shelly Levene (Jack Lemmon) “The leads are weak? You’re weak!” - Blake (Alec Baldwin)
Sometimes, the leads are weak! Sometimes, it is how they are worked, if at all. Weak salespeople tend to self-cancel, or you do them the favor. However, if you have taken care to target only those leads you desire for your sales team, issued them on a timely basis, carefully documented the date generated, their source and how they were worked, you really should be in possession of a set of high quality prospects worthy of follow through.
Tracking your Leads
Knowing your lead source, which salesperson worked it, and what that lead purchased – if anything – is some of the most basic information you will want to track to gauge performance of your program. From a lead data standpoint, you may want to record the following:
Date: Recency is very important as leads should be worked at the soonest possible opportunity; while they are interested and will recall seeing your marketing messages.
Lead source: Which advertising, PR, event-based or online resource was responsible for the prospect contacting you?
Format or lead type: Did they call the company, complete an online form or were they referred to you by a customer or other source?
Score: On a pre-determined scale, how likely is the lead to buy, or how well do they meet the qualifications for a prospective sale?
Distribution: To whom was the lead issued and at what date and time?
Action: When and how often was the lead contacted and what were the results of these actions?
Result: What did the prospect purchase and when? If they did not buy, will they remain an active lead or should they be filed for follow-up at a later date?
If you have not done so already, there are many good CRM software packages to choose from. Most offer user-defined or predetermined ways to track and record prospect information. Yes, Salesforce is one of the go-to integrated software solutions out there, though we have found it to be a bit clunky, as it is written to appeal to a very wide list of companies and applications. Whether you utilize a spreadsheet or a complex CRM software package, make sure you record information useful to your sales efforts.
Once you have collected data on a series of leads you will have a better understanding of the lead generation sources you need to use, the type of lead you should generate more often, which salesperson should work the lead(s) and how likely each of these leads will result in a sale. From this data, you can construct an updated prospect profile for future targeting efforts. You will also improve your lead generation efforts, increase closure rates and hit your higher company revenue goals.
“ABC. Always be Closing…” - Blake (Alec Baldwin)
Perhaps not a mantra to live or manage by, but one that does bear repeating: Successful sales programs are the result of strong sales teams that know how to establish trust, deliver information, transfer enthusiasm for their products and yes, know how to ask for the sale – all of which are made easier with well managed and qualified leads.
Your lead management program will also help get you through periods of low generation by providing a supplemental list of pre-worked leads who have not yet purchased your products, and ensure your sales force has a qualified list of prospects once business returns to normal.