The sales team at your expansion stage business is cranking. Your reps are making 300+ calls a week — they are eating up the leads you give them, diligently making their first calls into prospects to find the hottest new opportunities.
This scenario seems like a management team’s dream! But…
Are you certain that your sales reps are making the necessary follow ups to ALL of these leads after their first initial attempts? You’ve been looking at the pipeline of opportunities, but what about the pipeline of follow up activities?
Marketing managers will be the first to tell you – leads are EXPENSIVE when you break it down to cost/per.
Sales managers, on the other hand will be the first to tell you, in most cases, sales people tend to go after the low hanging fruit to hit their quotas. The difficult leads (aka ones that don’t pickup/respond after the first and second attempt) will likely be pushed to the back of the queue as the new fresh leads appear to be more promising. Eventually these difficult leads end up in a black hole of data in your CRM.
So what’s happening to this massive chunk of leads that aren’t closing? Some perhaps give the flat out “NO” to your sales reps, but there is likely a handful of prospects that either never pick up/respond or indicate that it wasn’t the right time for some particular reason. The reality is: there are dozens of leads in your CRM right now who have not been called in months, who are probably ready to buy. Without rigorous follow up activities, your competitors will likely be the ones to swoop up these deals.
I searched high and low to find the original research for these stats in the graphic to the left. While I couldn’t find the root source, the stats seem quite fitting based on my experience and observations.
As a sales manager, what can you do to make sure follow ups are occurring?
- It all starts with training. When bringing on new reps, they must be trained on proper follow up activities, and how to log it appropriately in your CRM. Reps should have goals that relate to NO “Open Activities, or Follow Ups” waiting for them at the end of the week. Another goal: every lead (unless it is a flat out “no, don’t ever call me again”) should continue with follow up activity. Even if that follow up activity is in 3 months, it needs to be logged in the CRM. If not, it will get lost.
- In the Model Day for Success that you create for your sales team, make sure time is designated for follow up activities.
- Work with your marketing team to implement a nurturing program that covers all of the basics, and how sales reps allocate the leads to the correct buckets. There should be different marketing buckets for different types of prospects — those using a competitor, those concerned about price, etc. A great nurturing program will send content that is relative to each lead’s particular situation.
- End of week retrospective. As a manager, you should be going through your team’s pipeline and examining the current sales process, while taking a step back and looking at the new leads that were called during the previous two weeks. Are there next steps for these leads? Do all open leads have follow ups scheduled, and have all follow ups that are due/overdue been made?
Hold your reps accountable to following up with the leads that are given to them!