Qualified Leads Falling Through the Cracks? Make Your Sales Reps Pay

Devon-McDonald by

Over the years, I’ve worked with dozens of sales and marketing organizations to set up and optimize outbound lead generation teams.  When working with our portfolio companies, I often see very comparable issues/breakdowns that occur when clear-cut processes and accountability systems are not in place, and when BDR goals and strategies are not reaffirmed by senior management to the rest of the organization.

One of the the most common breakdowns, however, is this:
(hard-earned) qualified leads falling through the cracks.

Most commonly, that breakdown will occur at the point of the handoff between the BDR and the sales reps, and/or following the initial call between the prospect and the sales rep.

This is frustrating on many levels. Frustrating for the BDRs who worked so hard to get a prospect on the phone and ultimately interested in taking next steps to learn more. And frustrating for management who is paying top dollar per qualified lead. From what we’ve seen, BDR teams spend about $400-700 per appointment set for their in-house outbound lead generation teams.

That’s a lot of money in the long run.

I get it. Sales reps have a lot on their plates, and if they need to choose between following up on a qualified lead that won’t close until the end of the year (and requires some hand-holding at that) versus following up with a prospect that may close in the next couple of weeks, you know where the priority will often be: closing that deal, and hitting the number.

It’s the really savvy sales rep who is thinking about the deals that will close tomorrow, but also balancing his/her time tending to the the deals that will close months out. But lets face it, these reps are really hard to come by, and back to my original point, if you don’t have clear processes in place and accountability, you are going to be throwing away money on BDR generated qualified leads anyway. 

So what can you do to make prevent qualified leads from falling through the cracks?

  • Establish a clear SLA for BDRs and Sales Reps. Clearly define what the handoff process entails, what is recorded in your CRM, the follow up activity that is required, and who is accountable for doing what.
  • Train not just your BDRs on the handoff process, but also the sales reps. Seems like a no brainer, but BDR SLA and handoff process training is only half of the equation.
  • Gather feedback from your sales reps on why the deals are falling through the cracks. We shouldn’t always assume that the sales rep is not doing his/her job.  Is there a quality issue? Is the BDR team setting up junk appointments just to “check the box,” leading the reps to not take appointments seriously?
  • Have a weekly meeting between the BDR team and the Reps to discuss appointments set, and next steps. This will establish real accountability if everything is being reviewed as a group. No one wants to look like a fool in front of his/her peers.
  • In your individual pipeline review meetings, have the team manager conduct an appointment review to make sure that the SLA is being followed. Management can randomly select some of these qualified leads to see if the SLA compliance is in effect.
  • Better configure your CRM to make it easier for your BDR and Rep to get the appropriate and most relevant data into the system. 
  • Arm your Sales Reps with reports in your CRM that will help them stay on top of the appointments that have been passed along to them. Make it really easy for reps to identify those lead they need to stay on top of.
  • Set up alerts in your CRM that notify reps when a qualified lead has not been contacted in “X” days. This point is a little bit of a Band-Aid rather than a true solution, but it may be a short term solution as you work with your reps to become better at following your designed process.
  • Stop passing any new leads to your reps who consistently drop the ball. This will work if you have a round robin lead distribution process. Hey, if a rep doesn’t take the leads passed over to him/her by a BDR seriously, stop passing them to him/her. This of course means they will need to do their own business development to hit their number (and you need to have a new customer goal – reps shouldn’t just be just milk existing accounts to hit their number). Give your qualified leads being generated by the BDRs to people who will actually appreciate and follow-up with them.

…and last but not least, if you are consistently seeing your sales reps not follow the SLA with the leads that are passed along to them, make them pay. Determine what your cost per lead is, and for those leads that have not been managed properly, take that cost per lead out of your sales reps commission check. Seems a bit drastic, right? But at the end of the day, this means your rep is throwing your company’s money away, and wasting colleagues’ precious time!

What other strategies has your company established to climate qualified leads from getting dropped during the handoff process or after the initial scheduled call?