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A Case for Reassigning Leads if the Rep Fails on Follow-up - Jerry Troke from Marketnet

Sales lead follow-up by direct or indirect representatives continues to be the most aggravating, difficult, madding, and frustrating issue confronting sales and marketing management.
Management demands, threatens, screams and begs salespeople to do their jobs and follow-up expensive sales leads given to them, and failure is their reward 75-90% of the time. In this interview with Jerry Troke, CEO of Marketnet, host Susan Finch and Jerry tackle the issue of simply reassigning sales leads to someone that cares instead of pursuing the impossible dream. 
Why its important:
"Management demands, threatens, screams and begs salespeople to do their jobs and follow-up expensive sales leads given to them, and failure is their reward 75-90% of the time."
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About Jerry Troke
Jerry Troke is an entrepreneur and sales/marketing executive with more than 35 years of experience across several industries in b2b markets.  Jerry received multiple degrees from Purdue University before joining Rockwell Automation (formerly Allen-Bradley Co).  After his career with increasing responsibilities at Rockwell, he moved on to challenging opportunities with Stiles Machinery in the woodworking machinery industry, and Behler-Young and Heat Controller in the heating/ventilating/air conditioning industry, gaining perspective through working for both manufacturing and distribution companies.  In 2014, Jerry spearheaded the acquisition of MarketNet Solutions, currently serving as its president and owner.  Jerry resides in western Michigan with his wife, Sue, where they enjoy sailing on Lake Michigan.  He can be contacted at JTroke@MarketNetSolutions.com.
About MarketNet
MarketNet specializes in Lead Management and Digital Marketing. We help clients move leads through the sales cycle with lead capture, content creation and lead distribution. Our process helps you save time and money by knowing when your leads are ready to be contacted and knowing what touchpoints and products they are interested in.
“No lead left behind” is more than a slogan to us. It’s a deep-seated operating philosophy. Every sales lead represents an opportunity for you and for us. For you, it’s more business. Not only today, but hopefully for the future as well. For us, it’s a chance to deliver a great customer experience on your behalf. We pay attention to every sales lead. Our systems and processes leave nothing to chance. Using our Lead Management process, we work with you and your channel partners to make sure no one is left unattended. No lead is left behind.
This is a literal transcript and some words from the recording may not be 100% clear. Please edit and use common sense if you use any part of this program (which you have permission to do).

Paul:                      Welcome once again to SLMA Radio! Our host director of marketing Susan Finch and our producer Yours truly Paul Roberts coming to you live from our studio here in sunny Southern California on behalf of our 800+ members of the Sales Lead Management Association.

                                SLMA Radio is a syndicated show and our archives have 366 different episodes now with an audience reach of 90,000+.  

                                SLMA Radio is part of the SLMA Live Radio Network which currently offers eight different programs for artwork listeners with a cumulative audience of over 260,000 people.

                                It is easy to find us, easy to subscribe through iTunes and Stitcher and is always our program is not scripted; it’s a spontaneous exchange of ideas starting with this one.


                                Paul:      Who have you brought with you today here? 

Susan:                   Well today I am meeting somebody new; Jerry Trope of MarketNet so I am very excited to talk to him. That is something that is on my mind regularly with sales teams.

Jerry:                     Well thank you for having me.      

Susan:                   So, let me get this going guys let’s set the tone.

                                Sales lead follow-up by reps is one of the most aggravating difficult maddening and frustrating issues that confront sales and marketing management. You know how it is? Management demands, threatens, screams and begs salespeople to do their jobs and follow-up expensive leads given to them. And it Jerry you know this, failure for that is like 75% to 90%, isn’t that true?

Jerry:                     That is absolutely true.

Susan:                   Well I am pretty excited to have you here. Jerry Trope is CEO of MarketNet and he and I are here and he is going to tackle the issue of simply reassigning sales leads to somebody that cares you know and that is actually going to follow up and close this baby. So a little bit about MarketNet; MarketNet specializes in lead management and digital marketing so Jerry let’s dive right in.

Jerry:                     That’s great.

Susan:                   Okay. So our subject today is [04:00] – Should Leads Be Reassigned If Our Rep Fails on Follow-Up? And before we tackle the subject of the program which is really about sales lead follow-up, Jerry what is your definition of sales lead management?

Jerry:                     Well sales lead management actually falls in the category of the whole lifecycle of sales leads from demand generation, qualification of those leads, nurturing of those leads if necessary and finally distribution of those leads to the appropriate sales asset out of the field when the time is right. And all of those elements work in concert to make the organization most effective and efficient at the bottom line task of selling products.

                                So without the preceding tasks the subsequent tasks don’t get done in a timely fashion; that is at the right time, and that’s often the source of conflict [05:00] between sales and marketing. We could go on for hours just about that but it typically revolves around the fact that there is a fundamental misalignment between the tasks of sales and marketing as they believe they are defined.

                                Oftentimes marketing looks at their task as the simple generation of leads without necessarily accounting for the timing of when those leads ought to be distributed to the sales force. And sales looks at sales leads as an interruption of their revenue production activities.

                                And what I mean by that is that most salespeople are… or many salespeople certainly are involved in a compensation structure that is based on production, commission, some bonus structure that is based on sales. And so sales leads often end up being that thing that’s got potential [06:00]; that is, it’s not worth much right now but could be. And that’s in conflict with how they would like to spend their time where they perceive the most value is coming from and that’s going after business and servicing the needs of their existing customers.

                                So a sales lead is often viewed as an interruption of the salesperson’s day or week oftentimes, many times during the day or week depending on what the flow of leads ends up being and there is that fundamental disconnect.        

Susan:                   Part of what you tackled at the beginning was I think what causes that issue more often than not is that topic of when the time is right.

Jerry:                     Absolutely.

Susan:                   And sales reps are so used to past experience of just being handed any kind of lead – here, follow up, close it, here we got you this, do something with it. And so I think that’s one of the hugest… Not hugest… listen to me, biggest stumbling blocks that we have [07:00]. I understand at MarketNet you have the capability to assign a sales lead to a rep and if they don’t follow it up you can reassign it but first it has to be qualified and at the right timing, correct?

Jerry:                     That’s absolutely correct and that requires a significant alignment between sales and marketing in terms of what they perceive to be coming through the pipeline. So marketing’s got to have goals and objectives that support sales and be efficient activity of the salespeople and sales has to have goals and objectives that also support marketing’s objective of getting them sales leads at the right time.

                                I don’t think there’s anybody, any question in anybody’s mind that sales leads, let’s assume for the moment that we are talking about good qualified sales leads, and have a shelf life. That is as a sales lead ages the chances that you as a salesperson who is supposed to follow up on that lead and make the sales call are going [08:00] to receive an order out of that or make progress against receiving an order out of that sales lead decreases.

                                The fact of the matter is that something north of 45% based on statistics, industry statistics of inquirers ultimately buy a product from someone. So if you can improve your follow up on sales leads you can automatically improve your potential of receiving an order from any given sales lead.

                                The best organizations actually are extending these… this alignment of goals and objectives to service-level agreements, formal SLAs like you would sign between a vendor and a customer. In essence you have an internal customer organization, an internal vendor customer organization within the sales and marketing groups and the sales group commits to certain levels of service in terms of following up leads [09:00]. The marketing group commits to certain levels of numbers and quality in terms of providing leads.

                                When you get that accomplished and the salespeople begin to believe in the quality of the leads that they are receiving, that’s when it’s most effective to hold their feet to the fire in terms of following those leads up in a timely fashion.

Susan:                   Well I was talking to Jim about your company and getting to know you a little bit better and MarketNet offers and also just this whole topic of reassigning leads. And I was reminded of a real estate broker I know on the East Coast and she is a task master. She has 100 sales agents under her and she will get a lead in on her phone, assigns it to… she will pick somebody, whoever is in line next, assigns it to them and within two minutes if they do not reply to her, this is 24/7, she reassigns it and that’s a very extreme circumstances, it’s [10:00] a lot for her to manage. It’s her happy place doing that; yanking it from one and giving it to somebody else – okay fine, you blew it, it goes to the next person. And MarketNet takes the role of that because if you have 100 reps and there processing 200 leads a month or even 50 leads a month each, that’s daunting!

Jerry:                     The ideal way to approach that is to automate that process so that you as that manager broker/partner of that real estate firm don’t have to look at each individual lead to assign it out to the next one in line so to speak. It happens systematically and the reassignment process also happens systematically if they don’t show that they’ve actually followed up on that lead.

Susan:                   I think that makes a lot more sense for everybody’s time and to know who is producing the most, who responds the quickest how it turns out when they are given the leads. So I know we are getting ready for a break [11:00] and I want to come back and continue this conversation because I have several more things I want to know about your system and also your feeling on reassigning, we were talking about your personal feelings on how this works and obviously you are a fan of reassigning leads because why give it to somebody that’s not going to follow up?

Jerry:                     Absolutely.

Susan:                   So we are going to hear more about that after the break; Paul, giving it to you.


Susan:                   [12:02] All right so I am back with my guest Jerry Troupe CEO of MarketNet and we are talking about the issue of reassigning sales leads to someone that cares rather than just hoping they will eventually follow up. Why leave it there sitting doing nothing when you can reassign it automatically and keep that flow going?

                                So Jerry let’s get back to it. I have another question for you about MarketNet. Can you reassign a sales lead to a pool and the reps grab the leads from the pool, do you reassign directly to a rep or do you do both?

Jerry:                     Well we can do either or. Our in-command sales lead management platform is very, very flexible in terms of that kind of rulemaking and rule execution. However personally and in the most successful organizations we deal with, the so-called pool that you referred to is really [13:00] a round-robin kind of a situation. The problem with the pool is that you have people who have to pull from the pool whereas if you assign in a round-robin fashion you are assigning leads out to a succession of reps based on either a true round-robin or its successive or on the basis of perhaps some other parameters like prior follow-up of existing leads.

                                That actually does a better job of accountability on the part of the rep that first receives that lead and ensures better follow-up out of the gate than a pool kind of a situation.

Susan:                   It’s a great way to reward those that actually do follow through and close deals because that’s what you want working with you of anyways so there is incentives.

Jerry:                     Absolutely.

Susan:                   A lot more incentive. Now can they all see each other’s… only the manager I would think and see how these are all being tallied and scored and as far as the team performance they can’t see oh my gosh Joe’s got the last 10 [14:00] and he closed them and I am stuck I did two and I barely closed anything.

Jerry:                     Although that level of report carding so to speak, when you begin to share that kind of scoring as an organizational level it does tend to provide some additional incentive for those reps to get the job done.

Susan:                   Right. Okay so let’s say that we are in this… not this pool but this round-robin and the sales rep doesn’t promptly follow up, the rules in your system can be totally customized as to the timing and when it can be pulled back and reassigned, correct?

Jerry:                     That’s correct and very often as you indicated in your real estate office example, the expectations there might be a little bit short for the opportunity represented by a potential listing but I think it’s probably indisputable that various types of leads represent various levels of [15:00] urgency and that can be derived from their source, the lead source. It can be derived from the type of lead that is. If it’s a request for a quote, obviously it probably has more of a sense of urgency than someone who has a project that may be longer-term and so you have to take into account what the potential follow-up requirements of the individual opportunity are when you look at the required feedback from a rep that they’ve actually taken action on that lead.

                                But the bottom line is [15:35 crosstalk]

Susan:                   That’s a great point you bring up because… that’s what I was wondering if you have different types of projects and leads, can you make different cycles and timing for those individually because they are different and it is going to vary by industry.

Jerry:                     That’s correct. And most organizations will establish expected follow-ups for various categories of qualified sales leads and [16:00] if they make clear to the sales force upfront what the risks are of not following up and what the expectations are for following up, then the fact that a lead gets pulled back and reassigned to someone else should be an expected outcome if they fail to do their job and follow the sales lead up in a timely fashion.

Susan:                   I think so. From your experience though you deal with so many different clients using your services, how long is typical that people are pulling back to these leads and reassigning them? Is there any general…?

Jerry:                     That varies again based on the kind of opportunity that it is. The scenario is that you are procuring leads, literally purchasing them from a lead sourcing outfit that sells those leads or provides those leads to multiple companies. But say it’s an office furniture lead or and office equipment lead; somebody has interest in a copier [17:00] and they filled something other says: I would like a quote. That lead may be passed along to multiple companies that are in that business who have contracted with that company to provide sources of leads.

                                Under those circumstances since there are multiple places where the lead is headed off to, it’s imperative that a sales rep follow that up almost immediately. So that’s an example of a lead type that would get stale very, very quickly because you may lose the opportunity based on the fact that some of the company is actually potentially involved.

                                If it happens to be a lead from your own company’s website there may be less of a sense of urgency so it’s really tends to be defined by the kind of lead source that matches up with the expectations of the potential customer on the other end. The bottom line is that at some point it ages to the point where you say okay this rep hasn’t had an opportunity to follow up on it [18:00] for whatever reason reassign that, pull it back, reassign it to another salesperson that has an opportunity to get engaged in the potential sale.

Susan:                   Well, from your experience you’ve gone through this how many years have you been doing this?

Jerry:                     The company has been in this sales lead management business since the early 2000s so we have quite a bit of experience in this area.

Susan:                   So you have some nice history in reporting. Can you, based on a starting point when you went on board with the company helping them and to where they ended up, can you give me any kind of percentage or talk about the increased follow up; the percentage, the conversions?

Jerry:                     Organizations that implement a sales lead management system actually gain in two areas. The research shows that about 50% of leads that are listed as qualified aren’t quite ready to buy. So the whole idea behind not only with a sales lead management system getting things to the right sales resource at the right time [19:00] but at the right time aspect is keeping those leads back on the marketing side of things, developing a lead nurturing program that actually continues to interact with that potential buyer until they are ready to say I need to talk to someone about a purchase.

                                And so the timing issue is a big deal. So it’s not only a revenue improvement vehicle, it’s a cost reduction vehicle and a trust improvement way because your salesforce now trusts that the sales leads that they are getting are valid opportunities and therefore they are much more likely to go out and pursue that business because they no longer view it as we spoke earlier about that interruption of their day but a true opportunity.

Susan:                   I am thinking as this goes along a few other things must happen as well. One thing management sees who is producing so it’s time to recruit [20:00] higher producing reps and fade out the ones that are what we call the nonbelievers who aren’t willing to come along on this. To me what I’ve seen is that maybe it’s like real estate, maybe it’s like few other industries where it’s that 80/20 rule where it’s 80% of the sales is done by 20% of the force. Do you agree with that?

Jerry:                     The measurement tools within a good sales lead management system give you the opportunity to actually monitor who is doing the work in order not only to reward those folks but quite frankly in order to coach and or call the deadwood if you will when you are not getting the appropriate response from salespeople that have that responsibility.

Susan:                   I agree and I do think that that’s an added gift from a good system. But everybody this is Jerry Trope, he is the president and owner of MarketNet. You can find them at [21:00] www.marketnetservices.com. They are also on Twitter @getmarketnet. So I am hoping you will connect with him to learn more about the services they offer.

                                And Jerry as we wind up our show, this has been wonderfully informative and some great tips for people and am hoping they will check you out. What’s on your nightstand right now? What are you reading?

Jerry:                     Well actually one of the books I’ve got on my nightstand right now is a book called Innovate: How Successful Distributors Lead Change in Disruptive Times by a friend of mine named Dirk Beveridge. He is an advocate of cross industry learning that is we tend to congregate in the industries that we participate in and that doesn’t always give us the right insights that we need to compete and address dramatic changes that may be occurring that are occurring in another industry that we are not seeing yet.

                                And [22:00] so his hot button is to make sure that we are talking amongst other industries not just amongst ourselves in that regard and his book Innovate is one of the things that’s on my nightstand right now.

Susan:                   I’m reading Matt Hienz’s book right now, his marketer’s handbook and loving it, it’s a quick short read with some very actionable tips. So everybody this has been sales lead management Radio SLMA Radio.com you can find us also at www.theSLMA.com and our guest today has been Jerry Trope president and owner of MarketNet. Find him, find them at www.marketnetservices.com and go back and listen to some of our past episodes.

                                Subscribe to us on iTunes, follow us on Twitter, go to websites; just hang out with us. Thank you so much. Paul.

Paul:                      You’ve been listening to another episode of SLMA Radio brought you on behalf of our 9200+ members of the Sales Lead Management Association. If it has to do with sales lead management or sales lead marketing it probably starts here with the SLMA Radio Hour.

                                Stick around; we’ve got MSPRadio and many other shows coming up right after this on the SLMA live Radio network.



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