Corporate growth, good and bad, can be traced to sales lead follow-upi.
Marketers keep thinking it is common sense for sales representatives to follow up all inquiries given to them. After all, what is the alternative? Cold calling? But alas, as Voltaire said, “Common sense is not so common.”
So we are left with motivating them to do the obvious and not give up. Yes, follow-up is difficult today. Prospects are always available when they want something, but disappear when they have what they need. Follow-up is variously reported from 10%-25% in most companies. When you think about it, some marketers feel that giving some salespeople sales leads is like throwing money in the trash. Here are some thoughts on motivating salespeople to do the obvious:
1. Greed: They will make more money by following up sales inquiries. Talk to more people and they will sell more product. It is a simple law of averages. You must show them the stats proving that those who relentlessly follow up will close more deals.
2. Fear: They must make quota, and prospect follow-up is easier than cold calling. Sometimes sales reps need to be reminded that a sales quota is a contract between the salesperson and the company. In order to make quota, they must sell product at a predictable level, which can only be done if they speak to more people than the number of customers who must be converted every year. A constant flow of new prospects helps them do this.
3. More fear: It’s a condition of employment. The only certain way a salesperson will understand and comply with your 100% follow-up rule is if the rule is a condition of employment. It should be stated in the job description that each salesperson reads and signs upon joining the sales department. While all of the reasons cited here are important, this is the reason they most often respond to.
4. Guilt: Inquiries are expensive. Salespeople must be told that each inquiry costs $50 to $1,000, which the company spends on their behalf.
5. More guilt: They will disappoint potential customers. The suspect who has contacted the company expects a response. The first test of a company’s responsiveness to a potential customer is when someone asks for information and they get it in a timely manner. If the salesperson doesn’t follow up 100%, the inquirer will be disappointed in the company and the company’s brand name and, ultimately, the individual sales rep will suffer. Remember the last time you got bad service at a restaurant? Afterward, did you say the waitress was to blame or did you blame the restaurant? Probably both, but the restaurant’s name is remembered more than the waiter’s name.
6. Exclusivity: Only the salesperson can close out the inquiry. No one in the company except the sales representative can accurately report on inquiry resolution. With all of the effort and money being spent to find the prospect, the success or failure of marketing hinges on the inquiry resolution from each salesperson. Only the salespeople’s accumulated opinions for inquiries, when added together and judged by source, will tell management if the money they spent on marketing was successful. That is a lot of responsibility. Unless of course you screen inquiries through a service and pass only sales-ready leads along to the salespeople, but the end result is the same.
7. Demonstrate conversion rates from successful salespeople: If they see that salespeople they know are more successful because of diligent lead follow-up, they will be inclined to copy what successful salespeople do.
8. Reports: Publish reports of sales lead conversion on a regular schedule. Show them the results of follow-up.
Once you achieve critical mass on follow-up, over 90%, it is within your power to more accurately control your future by spending more on marketing and growing the sales force.
Today's blog was submitted by James Obermayer, Executive Director and CEO of the Sales Lead Management Association and President of Sales Leakage Consulting. James is a regular guest blogger with ViewPoint.
iJames Obermayer, Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers, (Mason, Ohio, Textere an imprint of Thomson/South-Western, 2007) and Racom Books, Page 167..