We’re nearing the last quarter of 2013, and another year of sales will soon be behind us. An important question all sales and marketing departments should be asking themselves is how they can better communicate in order to follow up on leads.
Finding leads isn’t the hard part, but unqualified leads are just “ash and trash”, according to my latest PowerViews guest, James Obermayer, sales manager extraordinaire. Jim is the CEO and co-founder of the Sales Lead Management Association, which recognizes 50 distinguished sales managers each year and highlights 20 of the most influential women in sales (see his explainer). Jim is also the President of Sales Leakage Consulting, Inc. He has decades of experience as a marketing communications manager, marketing manager, and sales manager.
Jim and I talk extensively about sales, marketing, leads, and how they should all work together so companies can cut down on leakage. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation.
Why Don’t Sales Reps Follow Up on Leads?
Click to start video at this point—We all know about it, and too often we all turn a blind eye to the problem. When sales reps don’t follow up on leads, what questions should we be asking?
Jim points out that if sales managers tell reps to follow up with 100% of all inquiries, it will happen. In other words, falling short of sales goals due to a lack of follow-up is caused by the attitude of managers and an increased reliance on automated inside sales platforms, which are great at generating tons of unqualified leads that won’t lead to sales.
“Marketing automation in the hands of a fool is still a fool’s tool.”
Click to start video at this point—Jim and I also discussed how the creation of inquiries touch more agencies than ever before and involve so many departments that it’s easy for everyone to push the blame for lackluster performance. There are also so many automated software programs out there that marketing, especially, has become confusing for the average marketer.
Jim points out that 3rd party telemarketing services are getting more business than ever because of the need to qualify a large number of inquiries, when really companies should be looking inward. With so many different departments involved, lead generation isn’t just a sales or a marketing issue anymore.
Marketing and Sales Have to Agree on the Definition of a Lead and the Process to Follow Up
Click to start video at this point—We both agreed on the fact that, between all the automation and handing off of functions to other departments (and even between sales and marketing themselves), that there is too much leakage. So many potential qualified leads are being buried beneath the bluster.
One way to prevent this from happening in 2014 is for sales and marketing to really start talking about definitions. What, exactly, is a qualified lead? How do you measure that? How and when should there be follow up, and on whose watch?
At the end of the day there needs to be judicial accountability so that lead generation and follow-up can be tightened up. There’s just such a leakage between marketing and sales on leads; companies are spending immense amounts generating leads that aren’t going anywhere.
Should Marketing be Paid on Qualified Lead Revenue?
Click to start video at this point—Marketing already has a lot of the follow-up functions that sales isn’t taking on. So, should they actively assume these functions? Should marketing pay be determined by metrics that were once the province of sales and sales alone?
It’s safe to say that it has become essential for marketing to be measured on the end-result: revenue. In that regard, there are plenty of simple, actionable rules that can be put in place to keep everyone accountable. For example, if a qualified lead is turned to sales it has to be accepted or rejected within 48 hours by the judicial branch. A traction problem is not a good excuse: appropriate follow-up needs to be defined.
Ultimately it’s still a matter of leadership. “Nobody ever built a statue to a committee”, after all. Jim has personally witnessed many companies revamp their sales and marketing arms by embracing accountability systems and becoming successful.
You can connect with Jim and learn more about the Sales Lead Management Association via the following resources:
Email: jobermayer at salesleadmgmtassn dot com
The next PowerViews will be with Jill Rowley of Oracle. Stay Tuned.
By Dan McDade