From mid-March through mid-April we will receive dozens of calls from prospects wishing to start new lead generation projects ASAP. It happens every year. Our ramp up time for a new program is about four weeks. When prospects hear this their response is always, “That’s just too long. I need leads NOW!” The fact is they needed leads before now. At this point, rushing to get a program up and running will be of little or no value. I guarantee any company promising a “rush delivery” will not be the kind of company you want generating your leads. Desperation is a bottom feeder’s dream. As the saying goes, “a fool and his/her money will soon be parted.” There will always be someone to promise leads in a hurry—and the fool will have wasted his or her money in the process.
So, no matter how desperate you are for leads, before investing in lead generation ask yourself these questions:
How have the leads generated or received during Q1 2015 faired?
How many were generated?
How many were accepted by sales?
How many were proactively rejected by sales (vs. simply ignored or otherwise passed over)?
How many made it to the forecast?
How many are progressing?
How much did you spend in marketing in Q1, and if you had a gun to your head and had to come up with a reasonable estimate, how much business will close as a result of that?
If you can answer any of the questions above you are doing better than most. In many, if not most, companies, raw, unfiltered so-called “leads” are dumped on sales and fall into a black hole. The most common reason for this? There is no agreement between marketing and sales on the definition of a qualified lead. If you don’t start by fixing that problem, you won’t see any improvement next quarter or the one after that. This is a problem marketing and sales cannot solve alone. If they could, they would have by now. What’s needed is senior management intervention AND the establishment of what I call a judicial branch to make sure that no lead is left behind. The judicial branch reviews every lead that is proactively returned by sales to marketing (which doesn’t happen very often as most leads are simply ignored). They also review leads that have not progressed to the status of “sales accepted,” but for whatever reason haven’t been returned to marketing, either. While the process is tedious, there will be no improvement if both of these steps, the lead definition and the judicial branch, are neglected.
On average, five out of one-hundred suspects convert to high quality sales opportunities during a single cycle of contact. What the majority of companies miss is that there can be up to ten additional highly qualified sales opportunities that are just a few telephone calls away. (For more details, check out this article—a Salesforce.com blog that was published late last year.)
Be wise and take heed. “Don’t throw good money after bad!” You are better off doing the right thing rather than just doing some thing.
Dan McDade is President and CEO of PointClear, LLC, a prospect development firm that helps B2B companies drive revenue by nurturing leads, engaging contacts and developing prospects until they're ready to purchase.
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