Sales Thinks The Leads Are Weak - Well Are They? 12 Power Opinions (Pt 2)

Posted by Dan McDade

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on Oct 31, 2014 9:43:00 AM

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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.

Read PART 1 here

PART 2  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 in Part 2:

Dave Brock, Partners in Excellence Founder: Our experience has been that sales people don’t disqualify viciously enough. (I’ve written quite a bit on this:

It’s critical that sales people focus on deals in their sweet spot and not waste their time (not to mention the customer’s time) chasing deals that are way outside. The fastest way to improve pipeline quality is to focus viciously on opportunities in the sweet spot.

Sales people do very poor jobs on qualifying on budget or timeframe. These tend to be bad criteria, in any case. They need to qualify on urgency; willingness to change, and customer understanding of the business consequences of doing nothing; and willingness/ability to get funding if there is a compelling business case for the change.

Marketing should be driving all demand gen/lead gen programs within the sweet spot. Programs outside the sweet spot are wrong, and again, a waste of resources, time, and money. Leads in the sweet spot that are disqualified should continue to be nurtured.

Barb Giamanco, Social Media Expert: I would say that a large percentage of sales reps automatically disqualify leads—often without solid rationale—or anything else that comes from marketing. To be fair, marketing’s past history may be to blame. Although there are now sophisticated systems that score leads, there still seems to be a disconnect between what marketing thinks is qualified and what sales views as qualified. The two camps are usually not on the same page. I’ve been on the receiving end of the sales call that opens with, “I noticed you downloaded our white paper…” So what? That doesn’t mean valuable sales time should be wasted calling me. At a minimum, I think a seller should do some basic homework. Try looking me up on LinkedIn or the Internet to determine if I match the buying criteria before calling me (or anyone else for that matter). Some of my colleagues will argue that reps don’t have the time to research, but what’s the alternative? Do sellers burn less time calling a list of people not qualified to buy versus spending a few minutes vetting them first?

In my mind, disqualifying and qualifying are two sides of the same coin. In general, I don’t think most salespeople approach the qualification process well at all. I’ve talked to countless salespeople who couldn’t figure out why opportunities they believed were real and soon to close faded away into nothing. We all know the sellers who had a “great conversation” which made them think a deal was in the works, but they never bothered to ask the key questions to confirm if a real opportunity actually existed. The basics are often overlooked. The salesperson needs to:

  • Fully understand the internal decision making and buying process.
  • Determine the right decision maker(s) and also understand who “influences” buying decisions—as well as understand the budgeting process.
  • Find out if there is a pressing reason to change the status quo and if there is executive support behind it.

These are just a few of the reasons salespeople end up spinning their wheels and wasting more time than they should. A colleague of mine once said that the only thing better than getting a yes was getting a fast no. Asking the right questions will determine if you have a real sales opportunity or the illusion of one.

Jill Konrath, Speaker and Best Selling Author: Sales reps are often given very explicit instructions that if money hasn’t been allocated in the budget, a lead is not a prospect. Or that if the time frames are greater than six months, they’re not worth working on. This is a colossal mistake—especially in today’s business environment. By focusing only on short-term wins, companies/sellers are missing the chance to:

  • Help the prospect identify key areas of improvement.
  • Establish themselves as credible resources.
  • Set the vision of “what’s possible” by making a change.
  • Start “movement” away from the status quo.

When a rep’s focus turns to opportunity creation, they win bigger deals, face less competition, and have a much higher closing ratio.

Craig Rosenberg, aka “The Funnelholic”: It's a weird phenomenon. Sales gets leads from marketing and then disqualifies them. Then to hit their number, they need to cold call... it doesn't add up. There are some organizations that have enough demand that timeframe and budget can be filters. Those organizations are exempt from this blog (for now...they will one day wake up missing their number and wonder what happened...).

Asking marketing or sales development to keep "sending leads over" until you get a project that is scheduled to close next month is easy… but it is not very efficient and simply passes the buck.

The sad part for reps that reject leads that aren't BANT qualified is that sales reps who work with buyers early in their process get the bigger deals. Sales Benchmark Index says: "Sales leaders who spend/time/money/effort in the first 57% of the sales cycle, are not competing on price and win deals with almost zero competition."

My takeaways: Focus on the sweet spot (Dave Brock). Lead qualification basics, such as finding the decision maker AND influencers; understanding the budgeting process; and uncovering compelling events leading to need are critical to qualification success (Barb Giamanco). When a rep’s focus turns to opportunity creation, they win bigger deals, face less competition, and have a much higher closing ratio (Jill Konrath). The sad part for reps that reject leads that aren't BANT-qualified is that sales reps who work with buyers early in their process get the bigger deals (Craig Rosenberg).

Next up in Part 3, we’ll hear from: Referral Sales Expert Joanne Black; Sales Development Guru Bryan Gonzalez; Heinz Marketing Founder Matt Heinz; and SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter.

Sign up for this blog or look for their thoughts on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. 


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Topics: Lead Qualification

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