The most successful companies have a 100% sales lead follow-up policy as a condition of a salesperson’s employment. No exceptions. No excuses. This is the only way marketing can prove a return on investment for money spent on advertising, exhibits, direct mail, web, public relations, and other lead generation activities.
An Aberdeen Group Report, “Automating Leads To Sales, Prioritize Leads Stop Tracking Dead Leads,” March 2007, pounds home the fact that, “over two-thirds of companies currently using an automated lead management solution have seen a 10%+ improvement in lead to sales conversion rates.” This implies (but is not a guarantee) that the companies that have a “system” also have rules that salespeople must follow concerning follow-up. Granted those with a system are most likely to demand that their salespeople not only follow-up, but also close out the inquiry and report on the results. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Some people think that having a system solves the problem. This issue was discussed in the June 23rd, 2008 SLMA Blog entry: Why CRM Software Is Like Sheet Music, But It Isn’t The Software’s Fault! . On the SLMA site under resources there is an article on creating business rules entitled “Business Rules for Inquiry Management.” This article says that the primary rule of the sales universe is that inquiry follow-up must be 100%.
In order for this to happen, sales managers must enforce the rule and marketing management is often tasked with reporting on compliance. If no one is checking on compliance it will take salespeople about a month to figure it out and they will stop reporting. After reporting ceases, the follow-up of every inquiry will become optional (in their mind). Game over, you’re back where you started.
No matter how good the salesperson is, they cannot look at an inquiry and decide who the buyers will be 100% of the time. The inquirer must be contacted so that the 55% who are not buyers can be weeded out. Please make sure that you have rules for follow-up and rules for reporting and compliance. Without these requirements, you’ll be at the mercy of salespeople who think follow-up is optional.