How Companies Waste Leads

I have worked with many different sized companies and one of the universal truths I have seen is that sales people basically hate leads that are generated by marketing.

Unless of course, the “lead” is ready to buy.

Sales people only like HOT leads

I don’t say this to take a shot at sales people.  Effective sales people do a heroic job of cultivating their own business, and getting their own leads based on personal outreach, account development and referrals.

So, warm or cool leads generated by marketing are just not helpful.

They become “action items”, which get in the way of developing the business they are working on.

So why bother generating leads for sales at all?

If you are in the marketing role, generating leads is built into the DNA of your job description.  It’s also makes for a clear measurement:  How many leads did you generate and how much did it cost?

The standard goal is to spend the right amount of money and generate high quality leads that sales people use and turn into business.

Joint Marketing & Sales Approach

The real goal should be a joint sales and marketing goal where the leads are of high enough quality (and Hotness) that the sales force actually is motivated to work them.

I have seen two very basic practices make a huge difference.

For Sales: Actually use your CRM system

In so many companies, the CRM system becomes a “write-only” database for leads.  The information in it gets stale and out of date because it is not used as a day to day tool for developing business.

One time as a CMO, I investigated the leads that were in stage one of my company’s CRM system with people from sales, field marketing and corporate marketing.  “Stage one” is where leads that have been fully qualified were supposed to live.

In an unusual a fit of honesty from all involved, I got some real answers.

* A small percentage of the stage one leads were actually stage one leads.  They were being worked by sales people who had qualified them and moved them to stage one.  This was the minority.

* Some leads were there because the sales people were getting measured on qualifying leads, so they just moved them to stage one to meet that objective then just ignored them.

* This point was also good for marketing which also being measured on stage one, “qualified leads”, so it mutually re-inforced useless behavior and inflated success measures all around.

* Some leads were there because even though the deal had moved forward into later stages, no one updated the leads in the system.

* Some leads were there because the sales rep left the company and they were never reassigned.

* Some leads were there because the sales rep thought THEY had generated the lead, not marketing, so they entered a duplicate that they would get credit for directly.

* Some leads were there were actually worked and found to be not qualified, but no one bothered to close them out.

…You get the picture.

The way around this is to actually use your CRM system.

Have Lead Review Meetings

Sales teams have weekly order or revenue review meetings.  The most effective sales teams also have lead review meetings.

Imagine each week, if every sales team was looking at their assigned leads in the CRM system and every sales rep had to report on progress on each and every lead that was assigned to them.

This is not just about forcing sales to use the system, so everyone can have a nice neat system.

This is about developing business and making sales.  This is how the sales teams turn leads into business. This works.  I’ve seen this produce dramatic results from every sales team that does it.

The more focus sales teams have on the development of leads the more business they get.  It’s pretty black and white.

For Marketing: Don’t throw away warm leads

This qualifies as some of the oldest “news” on earth.  I bring it up again only because it is one of the most well studied AND most ignored marketing practices.

Companies spend money to generate leads and have a process to qualify them.  The HOT leads get worked on and the rest get thrown away.  Then you do another marketing program to get a whole new crop of leads, work the new HOT ones, and throw the rest away….

This is very expensive and also, it is well proven that the few hot leads have far less value long term than the warm & cool, but qualified ones.  (the ones you are throwing away.)

For starters, the warm and qualified cool list is a much larger list.  And people who expressed interest once are much more likely to buy eventually, then a brand new crop of unqualified leads from your next marketing program.

Think about this.  Only deliver HOT leads to the sales force.  Keep the rest in marketing and keep marketing to them until they are HOT.

Keep building your warm list and keep marketing to them.  You will get more HOT leads coming out of that group over time than from your new campaigns alone.  And they will be even HOTTER because they will have a longer term familiarity with you as you’ve been consistently marketing to them

You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her books RISE and MOVE.

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