Letters to a friend! Feed

Authenticity without filters can just be mean and unprofessional

Sticks and stones can still leave quite a sting for a long time later.

We are all taught that adage "honesty is the best policy" from a very young age - partly because it somewhat rhymes. Further definition to "honesty" needs to be given. We can be honest in admitting mistakes - rather than denying them. We can give an honest opinion on a topic or product. This does not mean abandon all courteous filters. How many times lately have you read or heard about being "authentic" and "genuine?" I purposely use the big air quotes here because these words are being tossed around by many as an excuse to blather on about their flaws, dirty laundry and heavily biased, rude opinions on anything, everything and everyone. The words are so over-used that in some of my circles we have put a moratorium on the words to stop the misuse.

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Advice to a friend: There’s no such thing as an old sales lead.

Hi Tom:
You asked a week or so ago if “new leads” are all that count. The answer Tom, is no. New leads are what salespeople like to see but all new leads have a predictable life span. 

IStock_000017352454SmallSalespeople often complain about not having enough new leads, but they are short on answers about the leads you gave them that are aging and potentially becoming less valuable month by month.

I remember Dan Rogers, the president of SmartLead by AdTrack, stating that sales leads are one of the marketing-created assets that have declining value month by month. Just thinking about sales leads as an ASSET is new for some people.

As a group, sales lead values decline on a predictable sliding scale. Any group of inquiries has a year to run their course; for many products it could be as long as 18 months. Surely, some inquirers buy within three months, but just as importantly a predictable percentage buy within 4-6 months, then 7-9 months, then 10-12 months.

"For most B2B products, 75% of closed sales will occur within the 4th through the 12th month, or even later."

I almost wish it were more complicated than that. If the process were complicated, it would explain why so many marketing managers blow so much company revenue on nonproductive inquiry sources. But, alas, many marketing managers drift through their jobs with little thought given to ROI because no one in senior management has the brains to ask for a return on investment. The C-Level people spend as little on marketing as possible because no one is capable of telling them the truth: that ROI is predictable.

The C-Level people spend as little on marketing as possible because no one is capable of telling them the truth: that ROI is predictable. 

When a marketing manager starts to measure ROI for lead generation, he or she soon realizes that some leads close quickly, while others take a long time; many nearly a year. That is both bad news and good news. It’s bad because so much of the lead generation budget is wasted when salespeople stop pursuing an inquiry after three months. They do this because:

  1. They did not follow up immediately and feel stupid for calling after about 3-4 weeks.
  2. The inquiry is for a product they don’t care about (can’t make enough money on it, or they don’t have a quota on it).
  3. The inquirer is geographically undesirable (less of a problem for the growing numbers of inside salespeople).
  4. The inquirer has inquired before but didn’t buy, so the salesperson prejudges their intent. 
  5. The company doesn’t have a lead nurturing system (spelled MARKETING AUTOMATION) or a telemarketing company to do it for them. 

The results are the same: 90% of the inquiries are not followed up, and therefore never turn into a genuine sales lead. The company loses money on virtually all marketing programs compared to what they could earn with a 100% follow-up policy. Tom, I remember the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

If your competitors have 90% of their marketing efforts wasted because they are not following up, you can swoop in and make a large profit on the older inquiries.

This is why so many of the marketing automation companies make the claim that they can get a 200-300% increase in sales by using their system. They know there is no such thing as an old sales inquiry or lead; there are only leads that need what others are not giving them: attention, love, information. A caring salesperson. Follow up.

Tom, I know this answer to your question is lengthy, but it is simple. Now go do the right thing.

You’re supposed to make a difference!

I don’t know how to break this to you - - after all we’ve been friends for so long. But because you asked me to be your mentor some time ago, I feel a certain license to speak up. 

There is no polite way to say this: it seems you are just drifting through your business life. You seem to get good job reviews; you earn more every year; and you have more responsibility and more people to manage. But I have to ask, are you making a difference? We’re supposed to, you know. We talked about this years ago, but it seems to have gotten lost.

As the head of marketing for your company, have you made a difference in the marketplace? Is your market share growing? Are you getting the best return on investment for the marketing dollars you’re spending in branding and lead generation?

Are you making a difference to the employees who look to you for leadership? Are they learning and growing? Are they satisfied in their jobs and the work they do for you? Are they making a difference?

Tom Brokaw said, “It's easy to make a buck.
It's a lot tougher to make a difference.”

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