How to Know When You Have a Dead Lead (And When to Move On)


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One of the most difficult things to do as a salesperson is prospecting, which in and of itself is an art form. When you’re prospecting, you have to follow the best leads; that is the leads that have the most potential for conversion. However, many times those leads become what we in the sales industry call “dead” leads. If you focus on dead leads, you’ll miss the opportunity to capitalize on the good leads.

Here are the 7 ways to know when you have a dead lead (and when to move on).

1. They’re Not Your Target Audience

Whether it’s real estate, software, or tropical fruit, you have to know who needs (or wants) your product or service before you even start with a soft pitch. Most people don’t want to be sold to. They want to buy something that will improve their lives, or in the case of B2B sales, help increase productivity. You need to know who your target audience is if you’re going to sell to them, and the first thing you need to assess is if that prospect needs what you’re selling. If the answer is no, don’t waste any more of your time with that prospect. Simply accept that not every lead will be interested and move on to your next lead.

2. When You’re Dealing with the ‘Gatekeepers’

When you’re dealing in sales you always have to ensure that your lead is someone with the authority to make purchasing decisions, otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels. Gatekeepers are known in the sales industry as those who answer cold calls (or emails) and whose job it is to typically deflect any inbound sales attempts. When dealing with gatekeepers, remember that they still can be wooed into putting you in touch with the proper personnel, so you can hopefully get your pitch across to the right person or people. Gatekeepers are considered dead leads because they cannot purchase anything and hence will waste your time.

3. They Don’t Return Any Calls or Emails

In business, contact is everything. Communication is key and if you’re working with a lead that never returns any of your attempts to nail them down and move forward, then you probably have a dead lead. Avoidance is often the nicest way to say “no” to salespeople, particularly those that a prospect doesn’t have a relationship with yet. There are many reasons behind the unanswered calls and emails. Many times, your leads are too busy to deal with a sales call. Other times, as we mentioned above, they simply aren’t interested. Either way, if you find yourself struggling to make contact with a lead, kill it and move on.

4. They Don’t Have the Budget

This is one of the most frustrating parts of prospecting, as oftentimes your prospects won’t have the budget to purchase your product or service. This is all-too-common and despite a good lead that is interested in your wares, you can’t make a sale without the money. If this happens to you, there isn’t much of a choice but to move on, however it may be good to note this type of particular lead for the future, in case they do have money at another time. For now though, if the prospect indicates that they can’t afford the purchase, move on to the next one.

5. They’re Indecisive

There are only a handful of factors that mean anything to a sale: the solution you are offering and what it means to the buyer, how much it costs, and their decision to buy. The latter can be frustrating for salespeople dealing with indecisive prospects. If a lead is giving you the runaround with regard to making a final purchasing decision, you have to be able to get them back on track and focus on making the purchase, or else you’ll be going back-and-forth with them trying to wrap up the sale. This only wastes time and energy that could be better spent on working other leads.

6. They’re Not Invested In Your Relationship

Salespeople develop relationships in order to make sales. As a salesperson, you’re responsible for helping your prospects make the decision to buy your product or service, and many times you will be the one putting in the most energy into the prospect-sales relationship dynamic. Despite the extra effort you may put into following a lead, you can tell that it’s dead if you get the sense that the prospect just isn’t that into you. It’s a blow for sure, but you’ll recover. Don’t waste your time with anyone that doesn’t want the same thing out of the relationship or conflicts with you or the sale. If you feel that a prospect isn’t invested, walk away and move on to that next lead on your list.

7. When ‘No’ Means ‘No’

One of the more direct ways to identify a dead sales lead is when a prospect says “no”. Some salespeople may take that as a challenge to get the sale, but you’ve been warned. The prospect that flatly says “no” to you, typically means just that. If you get the resounding negative answer, collect yourself and just move forward. If they’re that adamant about not purchasing (or even not listening to your pitch) then save your time and energy for the next lead. You won’t get anywhere with this kind of dead lead.

So a Lead is Dead, Now What?

Once you have decided a lead is bad, it’s important to keep moving on to the next deal that needs your attention. Try using Spiro’s AI-Powered CRM that creates a proactive to-do list to guide you onto that next call, and lead you through your sales day. Spiro’s full sales CRM will keep you on top off all your important deals, without letting anything fall through the cracks.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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