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May 2013

Sales performance is tied to sales lead performance, which is tied to your marketing performance!

Said another way, your marketing performance drives sales lead performance, which drives sales performance. Either way it works. 

IStock_000016044984SmallFailure starts with a lack of marketing performance, which is often due to inadequate budgeting. The root cause of inadequate marketing budgeting lies with executives who do not understand the causative effect marketing spending has on lead generation and sales performance.

Sometimes simple statements, as in the title of this article, are so obvious we overlook their implications. But executives can only understand these symbiotic relationships if they see a solid connection between spending and sales, which can only be proven by a solid sales lead management process.

Of course, pure lead generation without thought given to managing the lead process can also lead to less-than-expected or -forecasted sales. Manage leads poorly, process them slowly, give salespeople more than they can handle, allow them to choose whom to follow-up with, skip any part of the nurturing or ROI measurement process, and a dozen points of failure pop up. It doesn’t mean total failure; it just means degrees of failure.

Bill Parcells, said “When you set small visible goals, and people achieve them, they start to get it into their heads that they can succeed.”

Bill Parcells, an NFL winning coach quoted in the Harvard Business Journal article The Tough Work of Turning around Teams, said “When you set small visible goals, and people achieve them, they start to get it into their heads that they can succeed.”
Out of dozens of tactical improvements you can make in sales lead management, I suggest these three are noteworthy:

1. Sales Lead Follow-up will increase sales in direct proportion to the number of inquiries followed up.

2. Inquiry Nurturing, manually or through marketing automation, will increase sales.

3. Sales Source Measurement, by media type, will lead to wiser spending of lead-generation dollars, which will lead to sales increases.

Parcells said set “small” goals and hit them. I guess these are not really small goals, but each is relatively easy to achieve, and each will have a direct impact on sales.

So when will you get started?

There’s no such thing as an old sales lead!

Salespeople are known for:

1. Following up only 10-25% of the inquiries given to them.

2. ‘Downgrading’ a lead after about four weeks if they haven’t yet called the prospect. At that point, reps consider the lead old and would rather follow up with “fresh” leads. Translated this means: “I haven’t followed up and I am embarrassed to do it now; so I will say I did, but I won’t, and I’ll look for fresh, new, urgent leads. I will send an email instead.”

3. ‘Downgrading’ a lead that doesn’t have an immediate (plans to buy within 3 months) need. Once the lead finds its way into the sales funnel, reps most likely forget about it and look for a new, better, fresh lead. Then they think an email is follow-up.

4. Dumping a lead if the person inquired before and didn’t buy. Maybe the rep will send an email.

5. Ignoring an inquiry if there is no phone number; the rep instantly knows this person isn’t serious. Maybe an email will fulfill their obligation.

6. Considering an inquiry DOA, dead on arrival, if there is a “Gmail” or “Hotmail” email address. By sending an email, maybe a real person will surface. If that person is serious, the rep will follow up.

Want another six reasons for lack of follow-up? It’d be easy to give them to you. Same result.

This is why, in spite of research indicating a 45% buying rate of even unqualified inquiries, reps only follow up 10-25%.

I am amazed how they know which exact 25% to follow up, and how they identify the deadbeats. (Of course, even with a 25% follow-up they’re still only talking to half the buyers, if they guessed right. Not likely.) So the rep who follows up 25% will only statistically talk to 25% of the buyers. What a waste!

"The only way I know to fix the issue is to make sales lead follow-up a condition of employment for all sales representatives" IStock_000017061397Small employ

Oh, by the way, research not only says that 45% of the inquiries will buy in one year. Another 10-15% will buy in three months, and another 26% in six months.

So, if the majority of sales leads are ignored by the majority of salespeople, the rep who follows up older leads will have a 3-to-1 advantage. The rep who follows up all leads until the lead buys or dies, will reap a better return on their time with less stress

How do you fix this?

The only way I know to fix the issue is to make sales lead follow-up a condition of employment for all sales representatives. Inquiries, whether qualified or unqualified, need to be contacted. Their status makes no difference: 100% follow-up is the only answer and you give salespeople no choice. You make them do what they don’t want to do, but are glad afterward that they did.

How many “ghost” leads does your company get every month?

The majority of companies produce 20%-30% more total inquiries and leads a month than company executives realize, but these leads are not counted, distributed or measured. The “leads” sneak into the company through phone calls (reception, company president, customer service), emails, unrecorded leads in trade show booths, etc. I call these “ghost leads.” These inquiries are not entered into the CRM system, and fulfillment is scant at best. Certainly there is no count. Marketing appears to be less effective than it really is when measured by the numbers, follow-up suffers, and nurturing is non-existent. 

IStock_000000692331SmallWhen this happens, unbeknown to anyone in the company, lead generation sources appear to be under performing and leads are not processed or sent to the right sales channels. These “ghost leads” may turn into sales, or they may not; no one will know.  Let's look at it this way.  Every lead has a 50% chance of turning into cold-hard-cash for you.  Money.   Fewer leads equals fewer sales.  Less revenue.  

If a company “counts” 200 inquiries and qualified leads a month, they are mostly likely producing 235 to 255 a month. That difference is a big deal. 35-55 are ghost leads. Half are buyers (or would be buyers if anyone knew about them).

Get 1,000 inquiries a month, there is a good chance you have 200-225 ghost leads that are iqnored.  The goal to avoid “ghost leads” is to gain control over the portals of entry into the company. 

 Count them all - - every last stinking one of the people who contact you from every portal of entry into the company.  

Let no lead and its source go uncounted. Narrow down and control the portals of entry. Make sure every incoming phone call identified as an inquiry is funneled into the CRM system. Make sure every email that asks for information is entered into the system. Don’t allow salespeople to keep the leads from small local shows; send them to corporate.

Count all inquiries in a month, not just the unique visitors. Good sites with lots of content find that up to 25-30% of visitors are not unique, that includes people who fill out landing-page or contact-us forms. Some companies consider these duplicates and do not count or process the forms. On the other hand, some say duplicate inquiries buy at a higher rate than single-entry, one-time-only leads.

What’s my advice? Count them all - every last stinking one of the people who contact you from every portal of entry into the company. Treat them all equally. Watch the count zoom upward. Sales will follow.

Google+, YouTube and Google Hangouts

Google+ and Youtube

Have you ventured into Google+ yet or are you saying, "ONE more Social Media venue? Are you kidding me?" It gets better - with Google+ swallowing up YouTube and GoogleHangouts you can hit them from all angles with very little effort.

If you use YouTube, YouTube is redoing it's layout for channels. Our pretty backgrounds with our branding will no longer work. We all have to come up with new banner graphics. Good news is, you can most likely use the same graphic on Google+, too.

Here's an example of a freshened up YouTube Channel >

Here's an example of the layout of the new graphics for all formats: online, television, mobile devices >

Now, here's the thing to give a try: GoogleHangouts. It's a way to BROADCAST LIVE your video conference and automatically upload to your freshened up YouTube channel.

Here are some easy to follow articles to give you ideas and talk about the benefits of Google Hangouts:

You and your company need to stay up on these venues and trends. Google Hangouts is under utilizied at this point, but is pretty nifty, especially when you promote your conference using "Hype My Hangout."

Think about it - tech talk, product release Q&A. Many of you already do webinars, but this is a way to control the panel and then have the recording to use later, already publicized in all social media venues.

By: +Susan Finch