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And People In Hell Also Want Ice Water

Posted by James Obermayer on Mar 25, 2014 7:53:00 AM

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James Obermayer, Executive Director and CEO of the Sales Lead Management Association and President of Sales Leakage Consulting is a regular guest blogger with ViewPoint.

Ice Water ImageHe stands 6’5” in custom-made cowboy boots, and wears a wide-brimmed straw cowboy hat that cost as much as the boots. Likeable and direct, he pointed a lot and pointing makes me uncomfortable. Jabbing the air seemed like jabbing me in the chest, and as my mother would say, that’s impolite. But I know he is just western, real western, and he didn’t mean anything personal.

It was in answer to my questions about lead follow-up by salespeople that he grumbled, “And people in hell also want ice water.“

“If they just do their damn job and stop whining we’d all be better off,” he said with an interesting whine in his voice. He was frustrated; angry that the marketing spend wasn’t showing the ROI expected, and he blamed salespeople.

“Of course,” I said, “I agree that ultimately the salespeople have to realize that sales lead follow-up is part of their job, maybe the biggest part, but if the salespeople aren’t being held accountable, I blame the sales manager.”

That stopped him. “Yep, I guess the coach is responsible if his people aren’t playing well. If they don’t have discipline to do their job, the sales manager has to be held accountable as well. Maybe more so. Should I just fire the sales manager?”

“Maybe that will be necessary,” I said.

For years, at almost every speech I have given, I blamed the salespeople for lack of follow-up, sometimes as high as 90%. And I let the sales managers off with barely a reprimand. I was wrong. If someone isn’t doing their job, that person and their manager have to be held accountable.

James Obermayer Aside

If 75-90% of the inquiries you pass to Sales aren’t followed-up, that means 75-90% of the marketing spend is wasted. But that’s the small part; the big part is the lost market share.

Dan McDade and I had a discussion about this recently, and he chimed in that if the salespeople aren’t given qualified leads, the blame reverts back to Marketing. Can’t say I disagreed with Dan. If Marketing doesn’t have a clue and just believes in volume, not quality, the whole organization will hurt. Marketing spending will be out of control, sales will be suffering, and no one will be happy. Especially the shareholders.

I think, however, the only way for Marketing to change its bad habits of volume over quality (qualified leads), is for Sales to follow everything up, report on the results, and for the sales manager to have a ‘cow ate the cabbage’ meeting with Marketing.

It must be a negotiation:

The sales manager must say: “If you provide qualified leads, we’ll follow them up and sales will increase.”

The marketing manager must reply: “If I create qualified leads, you have to promise 100% follow-up.”

Now that isn’t so hard, is it?


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Topics: Marketing & Sales Alignment, Lead Qualification, Lead Management, Sales Leads


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