Leads are Making Salespeople Lazier Than Old Golden Retrievers


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lazyNot too long ago, before the advent of Social Selling, if a salesperson needed to add new opportunities to the pipeline there were basically two options:

  1. Make Cold Calls; or
  2. Call Existing Customers for Referrals and Introductions

Interestingly, this choice was not a no-brainer!  I observed that for every three salespeople that would call customers for referrals, there were always two that preferred to make cold calls.  This was not because they loved making cold calls, but because in their minds, it was a more comfortable option for them than asking for something from customers.

Of course, things are quite different today.  Most salespeople are the beneficiaries of a nice supply of leads from their company’s marketing, advertising and online efforts.  I typed that “things are quite different”, but is that the same thing as, “things are quite better?”

I don’t know about you and your leads, but a lot of the “leads” I see aren’t very good at all. They’re actually more like names with email addresses and a good percentage of them can’t really be considered leads at all.  But because a small percentage of them turn out to be really good ones, all of them must be followed up.  One can’t distinguish the good from the bad until the follow up calls have been made.

With salespeople so busy following up on mostly crappy leads, they probably don’t even give a thought to calling customers and asking for referrals.  Suppose I was given the option to phone one of two leads:

  1. A potentially crappy internet lead where the form was completed by the assistant of a branch sales manager; 
  2. An introduction from an existing client to the CEO of a growing mid-market technology firm that expressed interest in getting our help.

I know who I would rather call…

I know all the statistics about lead follow up.  If you don’t place a follow up call within the first 10 minutes your chances of connecting decrease by…I know.  I also know that it takes 8-15 attempts to reach one of those leads…

We all know that the introduction beats the crap out of the lead follow-up 95 times out of 100.  If that’s the case, why are so many salespeople spending all of their time attempting to generate and follow up on the leads that produce results 5 times out of 100?

If you’ve been reading my Blog for the past 8 years then you know that according to Objective Management Group (OMG), 74% of all salespeople are ineffective.  So we already had this huge class of sucky salespeople and now, with leads making life so easy for most salespeople we have created a new class of sucky salespeople who are also lazy.   

Have your salespeople pretend it’s 1985.  Have them each call 5 customers or clients every day for the rest of the month and ask for referrals and introductions.  If they don’t do it, shame on them.  If they don’t know how to do it effectively, shame on you.

Would you like to have a greater impact on what your salespeople sell? Attend my Sales Leadership Intensive in September and become a master at coaching your salespeople!

Image: Chin Kit Sen via Shutterstock

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Dave: first, I love the picture of the dog. He (she?) seems to want to jump right off the screen into my office. I’m intrigued by your finding that 74% of salespeople are ineffective. Could you share more about how you derived that number? What variables are you considering, and what distinguishes ‘effective’ from ‘ineffective.’? It seems there are many ways to slice this, and depending on what you are testing, you could find Joe, a salesperson, competent at his job, or marginal – all depending on what you’re examining.

    One oddity about this is a finding I just looked up because it was fuzzy in my mind: 60% of salespeople made quota – I think this is a 2013 finding, but in any case, it’s the number we often bandy about. So, if ‘effectiveness’ and ‘making quota’ are even slightly connected, this appears a strange anomaly. If 74% are ‘ineffective’, 60% of salespeople achieving quota would seem quite high based on your finding. One explanation might be that quotas are uniformly too low and are too easy to achieve, but I doubt there’s consensus on that.

    What are your thoughts?

  2. Hi Andy,

    Nice to hear from you! You can have the dog – she’s just a stock photo…

    The 74% comes from our statistics that show the following:

    6% of all salespeople are elite – OMG Sales Quotient of over 140
    Another 20% are good – OMG Sales Quotient of between 120-140
    The remaining 74% aren’t good – OMG Sales Quotient of under 120.

    I think it’s difficult to relate quotas to Sales Quotient. There are really good salespeople with really big quotas that don’t make it; and there are awful salespeople with low quotas that do make it.

  3. Dave, how does your OMG Sales Quotient link to business outcomes?

    I agree that quota may not be the best measure of success, but there needs to be something sales/business related to validate your elite/good/not good segmentation.

    What is that “elite” and “good” reps accomplish more often than the 74% “not good” sales people? If the 74% are “not effective,” what exactly does that mean?


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