Does your Team REALLY Exhaust Sales Leads Before Moving on to New Verticals?

Devon-McDonald by

Cherry picking.

I see lead qualification teams doing it all the time.  And to a certain extent, it makes sense.  You, as the manager, have set some pretty ambitious goals for your team and they are aggressively trying to hit those goals by finding the prospects that are quick to bite.

Just because lead qualifiers gravitate toward this behavior doesn’t mean it is the best strategy for your business in the long term … PARTICULARLY if your business is going after the enterprise sale, and your prospecting efforts are very targeted (hopefully they are).

Not receiving a response after a few attempts, or a little negative push back on a conversation doesn’t mean these sales leads should be thrown out the window and forgotten about. 

Just because your target buyer persona is the “Director of IT” doesn’t mean you should ignore the C-Level leads and keep them in open status, or simply through them into unqualified. At the end of the day, without a lead qualification manager working with a team to make sure that all t’s are being crossed, and all i’s are being dotted — its safe to say that “I’m out of leads — I need more” is something that will be coming out of your rep’s mouths prematurely.

A lead qualification team manager needs to stay on top of your performance/vertical penetration analysis and then coach accordingly to make sure that your team is focused on the right things.

The analysis piece is key.  At the expansion stage, companies are focusing on so many things — one of which is building and maintaining an effective CRM tool.  The Lead Qualification manager needs to be BEST FRIENDS with their CRM.  And they need to make sure that their lead qual reps are best friend’s with it as well. It goes back to the old saying:
“If it’s not in Salesforce.com… it doesn’t exist!”

Your CRM, if used properly, can really tell you the level of penetration into the target leads/accounts that you’ve provided your team. Leads don’t come easily, so its important that you get the absolute most out of them before you move on.

Here are a couple items to track that will help you understand if your sales leads are being “exhausted”:

  • Number of Leads still in Open – this is a no-brainer. You are telling me that you are out of leads but you still have 150 leads in Open? Lets look into this… and remember, always remind your lead qualifiers that CRM admin. comes with the job. Poor maintenance is unacceptable.
  • Number of leads still in a status similar to “contacting,” meaning your team is trying to get in touch with the prospect but has not been able to make contact. Lets assume that you have some sort of touch point process — 3-4 call attempts, 3-4 email attempts — before you put the leads into a nurturing status. Well, is that process really being followed? Analyze it and coach best practices with your team. Which leads me to my next item:
  • Leads that are in that “contacting” status for more than X days with no contact. X is whatever you deem appropriate, but my recommendation is that it refers to a lead without a touch point in 14 days max with no touch point in this status.
  • There is likely a status that your team has that indicates that you’ve made a touch point (had a conversation or email exchange), and you haven’t gotten a NO, but they haven’t yet been qualified as an opportunity or appointment. I sometimes see this being referred to as “qualifying”. These qualifying leads should be your reps’ top priority to stay on top of… Anything that is in this status and hasn’t had a touch point in 14 days should be flagged (unless of course there is a definitive next step).
  • Number of leads that have been marked as unqualified. Take a look through leads in this status ever so often to make sure that leads are not being marked prematurely as unqualified.
  • On the topic of tracking leads in an unqualified status — do you have a field that indicates WHY exactly they were put into unqualified status? This is VERY important, particularly for nurturing/relationship marketing  purposes. The better (more specific)  buckets that you have for this status, the better you will be able to tend to these leads with the appropriate content.
  • Any lead that is not in an open/wrong contact/bad data that does not have a follow up activity/task schedule should be flagged… In my opinion, lack of tasks scheduled means things are falling through cracks. Leads that are unqualified should have follow-up tasks, even if its for a few months out.
  • One of our portfolio companies is using accounts and contacts, because it is targeting enterprises. It has a month-over-month report showing the total number of touches into that particular account/company that month. If an account has less than 40 touches a month (that may be to 5-6 different people internally), it is flagged.
  • Leads that your team were not able to contact after the attempts that you designate — when are you going to try “no contact” leads again with another calling series? 2 months from now? 3 months from now? Think about it, and plan accordingly.

Exhausting leads…. maybe that’s the wrong term for me to use. Can you ever really EXHAUST leads? Once your lead qualifiers have run their initial course with the leads without having set up an appointment with a sales rep or having created an opportunity, there is still an opportunity to maintain contact with a series of touch points, ie: “relationship marketing.” And based on the information that your reps were able to derive from the initial conversations, you can hopefully put leads into buckets that will help your team make the touch points relevant to their pains and needs. Managers, if you can design a touch point rhythm, and content geared towards these buckets… you are damn good at your job.

In future posts, I plan to dive into relationship marketing, as this is really pivotal for lead qualification teams and their managers to master.