I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
Yes, we’re seeing signs of economic recovery, but we’re not there yet. And other market trends are making it even tougher for sales teams to hit revenue goals.
Leveraging social media, an abundance of valuable content and peer recommendations, buyers are self-educating and now driving the buy/sell process once controlled by field sales. Buyers today are making purchasing decisions in a more deliberate manner, and reps are reporting longer sales cycles.
As a result, sales teams are missing revenue targets, and sales executives are looking for ways to boost sales performance and drive more revenue. Their first impulse is to cry out, “We just need more leads,” and turn to high-volume lead generation with the hope that some will turn into sales. After all, it’s only logical that more leads will generate more opportunities and more sales, right?
In reality, just the opposite often turns out to be true. There’s a sales paradox at work here as reps actually need fewer sales leads or, more accurately, fewer raw, unfiltered, unqualified marketing leads. Drowning your sales reps in more leads – especially those of poor quality – can actually make things worse.
Standard lead generation’s focus on quantity floods the pipeline with far too many low-value leads that don’t deliver sales and marketing ROI. Qualifying criteria are rarely met due to lack of marketing resources. It’s no surprise that many recent surveys of sales executives and sales reps report an overwhelming majority of marketing-generated leads are not being followed up because quality is perceived to be poor. Rep calendars are cluttered with unqualified meetings, and, ultimately, money is being wasted on marketing and sales lead generation programs that simply don’t work.
What sales teams do need are qualified leads that have been carefully and consistently nurtured, as well as appropriately developed until they are ready to be delivered as high-value, sales-ready opportunities. Reps can then focus their time more effectively on the most likely buyers.
By taking a "less is more" approach and engaging in systematic prospect development, it's possible to send only the best opportunities to the field. This also renews the value of marketing lead generation programs, since reps start receiving leads they can actually use. Overall sales efficiency improves as sales managers can accomplish more with fewer resources, and highly-compensated reps can focus on doing what they do best: close deals.
Unlike high-volume lead generation programs, best-practice sales lead management – and its focus on a smaller number of better quality leads – fills forecasts with sales-ready buyers. In the end, delivering fewer, higher quality opportunities means greater return on sales and marketing program investments, as well as higher company revenue.
If you’d like to learn more about how fewer, more highly qualified leads can increase sales productivity and drive more revenue, download the white paper, Why Your Sales Force Needs Fewer Marketing Leads.
Dan McDade is President and CEO of PointClear, LLC, a prospect development firm that helps B2B companies drive revenue by nurturing leads, engaging contacts and developing prospects until they're ready to purchase. His first book, “The Truth About Leads,” is a practical, easy-to-read book that helps B2B companies focus their lead-generation efforts, align their sales and marketing organizations and drive revenue.