Your sales team’s performance doesn’t just impact revenue—it also affects your company’s reputation. Even the best sales organizations often make simple mistakes that can result in lost revenue and long-term damage to your company’s image. 

The irony is these mistakes are driven from the best intentions. Sales leaders and salespeople are often laser-focused on larger and later stage deals—as they should be. Unfortunately, this often leads to neglect at the early stage of the sales cycle, impeding your long term pipeline and hurting your company’s reputation.

While larger strategic deals and meeting quota should continue to be a top priority, awareness of the common leaks at the top of the funnel can be a good initial step to a healthier long-term pipeline. Here are three common mistakes to avoid: 

1. Failing to follow up with leads

Research shows an alarming number of sales organizations fail to respond to qualified leads at all. Before you discredit this stat and say, "This doesn’t apply to my sales team," a study we conducted in August 2014 found that 13 percent of inquiring buyers never received a response from a sales rep, and 29 percent never received a call. 

To put this statistic in perspective, let’s just say your company generates 100,000 leads per year on average. If 13 percent of your leads go unanswered, that would mean 13,000 leads are wasted annually. If your sales team was converting at a 7 percent lead-to-close rate, that translates into 910 additional deals that could have been had, but weren’t. Multiply this by your average deal size and you’ll quickly see how much this problem (or opportunity, depending how you look at it) is worth. 

2. Responding too late 

All too often, ready buyers enter information on your website eager for a call back, only to be left waiting hours, or days, for a response. Research shows this scenario is not uncommon, with the average prospect waiting just over two days to hear from a sales rep. This stat represents another tremendous opportunity for sales teams. In fact, industry research shows lead response time is the number one driver of lead conversion. Even just following up within 30 minutes of receiving a lead can increase the likelihood of converting that lead into a customer by more than 60 percent. 

3. Giving up too soon

While some companies worry that repeated follow-up attempts will put off a customer, studies show that sales reps, on average, give up way too soon, making just one or two contact attempts. Evidence shows that prospects respond positively to persistence. In fact, most research shows that conversion rates continue to rise, with good return, up to the sixth call or so.

A couple words of caution—persisting well beyond the sixth call can have a negative impact on your reputation and could also waste valuable resources as diminishing returns set in. Also, you’ll want to be mindful to strategically space the contact attempts. You wouldn’t want to make all six contact attempts in the first couple of days; rather, space them out over a few weeks.

Based on market research and first-hand experience, sales representatives hold the company’s reputation and revenue in their hands. Each interaction (or lack of interaction) with the customer matters and has an impact on the top line performance of your firm.

Consider ways you can avoid these common mistakes, like build out your team to include reps focused on responding to and qualifying leads, put a sales process in place to ensure proper and systematic follow up on all leads, and leverage automation and technology to help sales reps prioritize daily activities and stay on top of leads. If you can put more focus on sales leads at all stages, your organization will be able to generate more revenue, more predictably, and improve the buyers’ view of your company while you’re at it.

About the Author

FNick Hedges is the president and CEO of Velocify and a 15 year veteran of the Internet and software as a service (SaaS) industry. Nick has spent the last seven years at Velocify helping organizations accelerate sales performance and is a widely-recognized thought leader with respect to technology’s transforming impact on the sales profession. For more on Nick visit the Velocify leadership page or follow him on Twitter.



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