It is time to take the gloves off and focus on the national tragedy that has plagued B2B sales for 50 years. The tragedy and failure lies squarely at the doorstep of sales managers that are given inquiries and leads and do not make it a policy that their sales people follow them up.
It is a tragedy for the sales manager that is too stubborn or unwitting to know when he or she has been given a gift for making quota; tragedy for the salespeople who are not led and taught and convinced that their future lies in the leads given to them by marketing; tragedy for the stock holders that suffer as 2-20% of every revenue dollar is spent on marketing and 90% of that is wasted.
For years I have politely told companies how to increase sales in 90 days: follow-up leads. But I have never squarely blamed sales management, which is where the blame lies.
Why It Matters
If CEO’s hold sales management accountable for sales lead follow-up sales will increase in 90-120 days.
Of course, it also lies at the feet of the CEO that ignores their marketing departments attempt to create qualified leads and fails to hold sales management accountable for talking to people who have contacted the company. It is such a stupid circumstance it is hard to believe.
Yes, sales managers and salespeople can complain that marketing gives them unqualified inquiries and leads (often down-right junk) and that is why follow-up is not done, but that’s an excuse. If the follow-up is done and the inquiries and leads are junk, it’s up to the sales manager to hold the marketing team accountable. But, the later can’t happen unless the former happens first.
Marketing is Stepping Up
True, marketing departments are stepping up because of frustration and the new tools that are available to help follow-up without a salesperson (think marketing automation). Marketing is taking the responsibility to create more qualified, sales ready leads and passing them to the salespeople.
But, sales management in 90% of the companies still does not have a 100% sales lead follow-up policy. It is almost criminal as sales managers contribute to the huge waste of the marketing budget by not speaking to the prospects who want to speak to them.
In most instances, sales managers are quick to make excuses about why they aren’t making quota, the unqualified leads they get, etc. But if they aren’t following-up 100% of the inquiries their excuses are just that, hollow excuses.
This an issue because of The Rule of 45
The Rule of 45 is just as valid today as it was when it was first published.[i] Simply stated, it says that 45% of all the inquiries turn into a sale for someone within one year. If salespeople only follow-up 25% they will only be speaking to 25% of the buyers and they can’t guarantee that it is the right 25%. Research has continually shown the Rule of 45 to be valid. The only way to prove is it is for a company to do its own research on inquiries.
The solution is…
CEO’s, stop blaming salespeople for not making quota. Blame the sales managers who should know better than to let prospects contact your company, expect a response and be ignored. When you make this change, sales will increase in 90-120 days.
Update: another post on this subject is on PointClear's Blog: And People In Hell Also Want Icewater