Sales Thinks The Leads Are Weak - Well Are They? 12 Power Opinions (Pt 1)

Posted by Dan McDade

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on Oct 29, 2014 1:04:00 PM

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The_Lead_Are_Weak_250The leads are weak? You’re weak!

If you have never seen the movie/play “Glengarry Glen Ross,” do yourself a favor and watch it. Alec Baldwin rips into the late Jack Lemmon for commenting, “the leads are weak,” with a classic Baldwin-esque tongue-lashing: “The leads are weak? The <expletive> leads are weak! You’re weak!”

The movie should be part of basic training for every sales team in the world.

To accomplish a deep dive on the question of lead qualification, I’ve asked twelve lead generation experts to weigh in on the following questions:

  • Do you find that sales reps are too focused on disqualifying leads rather than trying to qualify them?
  • Do sales reps disqualify based on lack of budget or specific time frame?
  • If not, why not? And if so, why so?

Join us over this 3-part series as we hear the insight and opinions from some of our industry’s finest.

PART 1

Read PART 2 here Read PART 3 here

Jim Dickie

Dave Brock

Joanne Black

Dave Kurlan

Barb Giamanco

Bryan Gonzalez

Kendra Lee

Jill Konrath

Matt Heinz

Chris Tratar

Craig Rosenberg

Kyle Porter

First up:

Jim Dickie, CSO Insights: Clearly some sales people are looking for quick wins. If they follow up on a lead and it looks like a prospect that is serious about making a decision, they run with it. However, if it looks like a lot of work, AND they have a full pipeline, they may well come up with reasons not to pursue it. But let’s take the other side of the coin—consider a sales person who does not have a full pipeline. They may take a questionable lead and go after it because they have nothing else to pursue at the time. All of these cases are examples of what sales managers should be monitoring. You don’t want reps being too pessimistic or too optimistic.

BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeframe) was a concept that got drilled into me a million years ago when I started my sales career at IBM. It’s far too simplistic for today’s buying environment. Clients today want sales professionals who bring a value-add to the table. They want you to know what challenges they face; why those problems exist; what the cost of doing nothing is if those issues remain in place; and how you can help them achieve gain or remove pain with your offerings. New leads may be better viewed by assessing your ability to do those things for a prospect. You can build a business case that shows the ROI, even in the face of no current budget or timeline.

Dave Kurlan, Keynote Speaker and Best Selling Author: Some reps think that leads suck—period—and don’t do anything with them. Other reps want to convert any and all possible leads into meetings, calls and opportunities—qualified or not. I really believe that when policy and guidelines aren’t clear enough, personality, sales DNA, and one’s competitive nature take over. Those who are cynical and uncompetitive simply blow these leads off, while those who are optimistic, confident and competitive attempt to convert their leads. I wish it was as simple as qualify/disqualify but, as usual, it’s never as simple as a choice. Assuming that we are truly talking about leads, as opposed to contacts at the top of the funnel, the qualification should not even take place until the rep has attempted to learn about the prospect's compelling reasons to buy. Without knowing those reasons, most opportunities can’t be qualified because until that point, prospects don’t have the incentive to even answer qualifying questions!

Elite reps will disqualify for all sorts of reasons: inability to spend; unwillingness to spend; ambivalence about buying; lack of access to decision makers; timing; lack of commitment; unwillingness to share competitive information; too many hoops to jump through; a gut feeling; a strong incumbent; or even an inability to build a relationship. It’s really smart selling because when an elite salesperson begins disqualifying and tells a prospect that it doesn’t appear as though they are ready, willing, committed or able, to share, pull the trigger, spend, or provide access, a prospect may just fight back, get real, show their cards, and convince the salesperson to stick around and give them the business.

Kendra Lee, Sales Prospect Attraction Expert: Sales reps are not doing enough to qualify. And, they don’t disqualify as many leads as they could. They are trying to be consultative and don’t want to be seen as a pushy salesperson. Reps don’t recognize that they can be consultative and still qualify effectively. They also hold out hope that perhaps this time the prospect really will move forward…

Chris Tratar, SAVO Product Marketing Executive : The trend we are seeing is that most sales reps are under tremendous pressure to make their quarterly numbers NOW. This dictates that they must take the path of least resistance. For example, if a sales rep has enough active deals to work on, they tend to reject or disqualify leads because they do not have time to develop them. Or, reps who do not have a lot going on will grasp at any lead, regardless of how qualified the deal is. Both situations are bad for sales productivity, which is why the trend is to have marketing do as much qualification and development of leads further up the funnel through marketing automation and lead scoring tools. Regardless of the situation, it is critical to provide sales with the most qualified leads possible. Then, most importantly, enable them to have a really high value, high impact conversation to get to the next step.

The traditional ways of thinking about lead qualification and hand off is just about dead. Because buyers are now much more sophisticated and have access to massive amounts of information on any topic, sales reps need to get into new opportunities earlier and earlier, which means that in many cases there are real sales opportunities that don’t fit the traditional BANT (Budget, Authority, Needs, Timeframe) model for lead qualification. The battleground has shifted to sales reps being much more educated and acting as trusted as advisors to help clients discover and define hidden pains versus waiting for the phone to ring from someone with a defined budget, project, etc. This is why it is absolutely critical to ensure your sales reps are fully enabled to have those early conversations with customers to define and shape the opportunity.

My takeaways: BANT is too simplistic for today’s buying environment (Jim Dickie). It is just as bad to have happy ears (every lead can be closed) as it is to ignore leads (Dave Kurlan). Some reps don’t recognize that they can be consultative and still qualify effectively (Kendra Lee). In many cases there are real sales opportunities that don’t fit the traditional BANT model for lead qualification; which, again, is why it is absolutely critical to ensure that your sales reps are fully enabled to have those early conversations with customers to define and shape the opportunity (Chris Tratar).

Next up for Part 2: Partners in Excellence Founder Dave Brock; Social Media Expert Barb Giamanco; Speaker and Best Selling Author Jill Konrath; and TOPO Co-Founder Craig Rosenberg, aka "The Funnelholic."

Sign up for this blog or look for their thoughts on Friday, October 31, 2014.


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Topics: Lead Qualification


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