All sales leads are not equal. I know this is something that most sales and marketing leaders understand and it’s why they put lead qualification and validation into most of their sales, marketing and lead generation programs. They don’t want to waste time and money like the companies that Straight North recently evaluated.
For more than 18 months, StraightNorth conducted an analysis of 373,000 business inquiries, consisting of more than 135,000 online form submissions and more than 237,000 phone calls (totaling more than 1 million minutes). The study rejected 23,000 of them as unsuitable, leaving 350,000 inquiries to go through the entire analysis. Of those 350,000, about half—178,000—were actual sales leads. The report revealed a lead generation waste count of roughly 50 percent.
But when it comes to social selling and LinkedIn marketing, it seems that lead qualification and validation is getting thrown out the window. Business leaders and sales and marketing professionals are not identifying and focusing on those prospects who are ready, willing and able to make a decision in investing in their product, software, service or solution.
They are playing a numbers game, pushing out sales messages on LinkedIn to as many prospects as they can hoping that something will stick and that people will say yes to a demo or sales call. Business owners and sales and marketing professionals are treating these prospects who say “yes” to a call or demo as valid sales leads and they’re wasting time and money. Let me show you what I mean.
Most social media firms focus on how many leads they are able to deliver on a weekly and monthly basis. For the President and CMO of a logistics company, a well-known LinkedIn lead generation company was delivering 5 to 10 leads for sales calls per week.
However, those sales leads they were delivering sucked! 90% of the calls were with prospects who were not in the right stage of the buying process at this time, or they were with people who were not even a decision maker or influencer. The people who said “yes” to a call were just looking for free information, to network, and maybe refer the company.
There was no lead validation and qualification. What good were those leads if there were no relationships being created and leveraged to drive revenue opportunities? The President and CMO could have been engaging in revenue generating activities instead of wasting time on calls with unqualified and un-validated sales leads.
The Chief Learning Officer at PeopleLinx, CEO of Social Selling Link, and Co-Founder of Business Development University and Social Selling GPS tells clients:
“With each new connection, determine if they are someone you’d like to speak with and tweak the LinkedIn message slightly: NAME, it is nice to be connected on LinkedIn. Typically I like to have a brief call with my new connections so we can explore ways we might be able to work together now or in the future. Here is a link to my calendar: xxxxxxxx. Please pick a time that is most convenient for you. I am looking forward to our call.”
So she’s telling business leaders and sales and marketing professionals to go for the call – don’t worry about lead qualification and validation. She’s saying don’t worry if they haven’t seen your value yet and that you haven’t demonstrated your relevance. Don’t worry if you haven’t identified a need yet and don’t worry if they are not in the right buying stage. This shotgun thinking assumes that getting the sales information "out there" may eventually lead to a sale. But all it really does is cost you time and money.
Why would you want to take time out of your busy day to possibly see how you can work together with a prospect – instead of taking time when you know there is a need and that the timing to move is right? Why would you want to have a phone call just to have a phone call?
When you have a complex sales process the only way to drive revenue opportunities is to build and leverage relationships. When you think the timing is right to move forward – you qualify and validate leads to ensure you’re not wasting time. Click here to see our process in action.
Kristina Jaramillo, Managing Partner at GetLinkedInHelp.com and featured LinkedIn expert in LinkedIn’s “Sophisticated Marketers Guide to LinkedIn” helps sales and marketing leaders within professional service firms, consultancies and technology companies stop playing the numbers game so they can drive revenues using social media. Watch her latest webinar to “Going Beyond Brand Awareness on LinkedIn” to get even more information about her connection to revenue approach on LinkedIn.