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Do You Need More Leads or More Sales? A Tale of a Sales Lead - Part 1

When figuring out if your company needs more sales leads or more sales, it’s important to start with the basics of what a sales lead is.

“We need more sales leads.”

“If you can put my sales reps in front of qualified prospects, they will close them.”

“We need to be in front of more companies.”

When we say we want or need more leads, is it more leads we want or more sales? What we really want is more sales. The value of sales leads is converting them to closed-won sales. Therefore, if it is more sales we want, then our next question must be, why do I need more sales?

Simply generating more sales leads may not be your answer. Because you will get leads at all stages of the sales funnel if you just want to get more leads. Let’s take a deeper dive into a sales lead and what it takes to convert those into closed-won sales.

Why Are You Not Generating the Level of Sales You Want?

Seems like a simple question, I know. But figuring out why your sales aren’t where you want or need them to be will help identify the right track to take.

There could be a few reasons why your sales aren’t where you want them to that could include:

  • Sales reps are busy managing accounts, do not have time to prospect or follow-up on leads.
  • You are closing an appropriate percent of leads generated, you simply do need more leads.
  • You do not know the status of current leads generated to determine why they are not closing.
  • Your sales reps are not effective at closing the current leads given to them.
  • You do not have a lead follow-up process to effectively work leads through a pipeline.
  • Of all five reasons listed, reason #2 is the only reason that will generate more sales by having more leads. However, this is only the case if the sales reps in fact have more time to devote to following up on leads.

I contend that when we say we want more leads; we are really saying we want more sales. If that is the case, then simply find leads that are fully qualified and ready to buy now. We all know, it is not quite that easy.

All sales groups need a continual flow of leads – a sales funnel. A lead is the start of the sales process. However, this is just one component of generating more sales. Every lead generation program must start with defining a sales lead. The definition you use for a sales lead will then determine your process for handling leads generated.

What Is Your Sales Lead Definition?

Leads mean different things to different people. If you were to ask this question to marketing, sales leaders, or sales reps within your organization, you may receive three very different answers.

Definition of a Lead

The following are definitions of a sales lead some companies use:

  1. Company and contact
  2. Company, contact, and specific information identified
  3. Company, contact, specific information identified, and willing to meet/talk
  4. Company, contact, qualified based on your defined criteria and willing to meet/talk
  5. Company, contact, qualified based on your defined criteria, has a need, willing to meet/talk
  6. Company, contact, qualified based on your defined criteria, ready to buy now, and meet/talk

As you can see, a sales lead can take on many definitions and varying levels of ready to buy. There is no standard or universal definition of a lead. All the above definitions have value. We all agree we would love to have leads of people who are ready to buy right now. Finding those types of leads is few and far between. However, the goal for all sales leads is to get them to that point.

The biggest mistake I see companies make is not having an effective, proven, lead nurture process. In most cases, if after following up on the initial lead does not turn into a sale, or a quick sale is not imminent, the lead follow-up process ends. It ends for one of three reasons:

  1. The sales rep does not have time to continually stay in front of the prospect.
  2. There is no lead nurture process/technology in place to efficiently stay in front of the sales lead.
  3. The company has not made lead nurturing a priority.

Although the prospect is not ready to buy today, they have been qualified to meet your definition of a sales lead. That is why it has been turned over to your sales group. The prospect will buy in the future. It may be in three months, six months, one or two years. When they are ready to buy, you will want to be in front of them. At that moment, they become like definition #6 above. And those are the type of sales leads you want.

Lead nurturing is as important as lead generation. Most lead generation programs struggle from lack of effective lead nurturing vs. lack of leads generated. Effective lead nurturing has a positive impact in areas such as:

  1. Improves your lead generation efforts and ROI
  2. Improves your pipeline
  3. Increases the odds of being at the right place at the right time when prospects are ready to buy
  4. Decreases the highs and lows of sales by keeping your pipeline full
  5. Increases sales

We have the following saying inside our office: “It’s not about closing the sale today; it’s about filling the pipeline for tomorrow.”

Too often companies expect their sales leads efforts to tee up greater closed-won sales. Companies need more sales leads because they are not effective at nurturing all of their leads and building a fully-functioning sales pipeline. As a result, their sales depend on leads that are ready to buy quickly.

Part 2 discusses effective lead nurturing programs. Be sure to come back and check out that blog later this week.