Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why Sales People Don't Follow Up Good Leads - Part II

Let's return to "where's the disconnect" from my last blog....

Here's a statistic that would surprise most sales reps -- and might surprise some marketeres as well. About 45% of business-to-business leads, that is prospects who've inquired about a product, will end up buying.

Going back to our salesperson, out of those first 100 leads, assume 45 will eventually buy.  Of course, not all of them will buy from our salesperson,  but out of 45 opportunities, he can expect to close about 15.

But here's the problem: Reps often underestimate how long it takes for those leads to turn into sales. Some statistics show that about four will buy the first month, about the same the second month, and so on.

It makes sense if you think about it.  A prospect could be anywhere in the buying cycle when the rep calls. Some are ready to make a final decision while others are just beginning to explore their options. In other words, only about four are ripe. The rest are too green to pick. And, unfortunately, a green lead can seem like a bad lead. They're not focused.  They're not ready to set an appointment.  It's easy to assume they're not really serious prospects.  But they will be once they ripen!

The worst thing that our salesperson can do with green leads is to throw them out and start with a new batch. He's already done the hardest part -- making contact and establishing a connection.  Now he needs to cultivate those opportunities.

But most don't. Believing that the leads have gone stale., he puts them in the "when I get to them" file and never gets to them. So he doesn't get those 45 sales opportunites.  He gives up after a few months and maybe gets only eight or ten -- which only reinforces his belief that the leads were lousy to start.

What does it mean for marketers? You have to work closely wth your own sales force and dealer organization to make sure they understand how leads continue to ripen. And you need their buy-in to keep following up on those leads.  Do that, and marketing and sales will be pulling in the same direction.

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To share common sense lessons learned with 40-plus years experience in marketing, sales and as a B2B publisher.

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I'm really just a "mature" guy picking up experience along the way. If only by osmosis, I've observed what works and what doesn't work under the marketing umbrella -- with 11 years in sales and marketing at Procter & Gamble; 30-plus years in B2B publishing (including three years as a publisher); and 1,000's of calls on every size company starting with the likes of Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard all the way down to small, brash start-ups.

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