Lots of sales people and small business owners tend to complain that they don’t have any “good sales leads.” When sales are slow, people tend to blame the quality of sales leads—as if the business prospects that they’re talking to are fundamentally unwilling to buy, or the sales leads themselves are inherently inferior.
It’s true that not all sales leads are created equal. Some sales leads are “better” than others, and some prospective customers are just doing preliminary research or “kicking tires” and are never going to be willing to buy. But, in general, the quality of your sales results does not depend on the quality of your sales leads. The quality of sales leads are less important than the quality of the process that you use to work those sales leads—your sales leads are less important than what you do with them.
Here are a few tips for help your business do a better job of managing your sales leads and get better results from the leads you’ve got:
Practice inbound lead qualification
It sounds crazy, but it’s true: many B2B sales organizations are not doing ANYTHING to qualify their sales leads. According to stats cited by Hubspot, 61% of B2B organizations are just passing on all of their sales leads directly to the sales team without even asking any questions—but only 27% of those leads (on average) will turn out to be “qualified” leads that are genuinely ready and in position to buy.
This means that too many companies are wasting time and resources chasing the wrong sales leads—people who aren’t actually a good fit, aren’t really ready to buy, and aren’t worth spending a lot of time and effort talking with on the phone. If your sales appointment calendar is cluttered with too many bad sales leads, you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and disappointed.
What should you do instead? Ask questions. Talk to your prospects upfront before you start doing sales presentations, and ask preliminary questions like “What are your current issues with your present solution?” or “How big of a priority is this purchase decision-making process?”
Rank your sales leads
Another problem for many B2B companies is that they aren’t doing any formal “lead scoring” or lead ranking process. Do you know which of your sales leads are really the “best” sales leads who are most eager to buy? A simple sales lead ranking process will help you figure it out. Assign a simple scale—like “A, B, C” or “1, 2, 3”—to rank the various sales leads based on how “ready to buy” they seem to be based on their answers to your lead qualification questions (discussed above). This is an inexact science, but with time, you’ll figure out which sales leads are really “ready” for the next stage of the sales conversation, and which ones are just doing preliminary research.
Do long-term lead nurturing
Once you’ve ranked your sales leads and you know which ones are higher-ranked, higher-priority sales leads, you can turn your attention to the “long-range” sales leads. Lots of sales leads that aren’t “ready” today might feel differently in another six months or a year. Especially with B2B sales, it can take up to a year or more for some of the big-dollar purchase decisions to work their way through the buyer’s organization. So be patient. Practice long-term lead nurturing to keep following up with these long-range sales leads (in an organized, methodical way) and keep building relationships, answering questions, and building trust.
Perhaps in the end, there are no “bad sales leads”; there are only bad lead management practices. If your company can put some of these simple best practices in place, you will start to have a better organized process to qualify, rank and nurture your sales leads – and you’ll start to see better sales results.