When Bad Things Happen to Good Leads – Part 1


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There will be a ton of ink (and cyber ink) dedicated to lead nurturing this year. Most of it will be about using marketing automation to nurture leads. In and of itself, marketing automation is not a bad thing. More accurately, it’s a good thing being used badly by most companies. But that’s not what this blog is about.

Over the course of this series, I’ll discuss the value of marketing to non-lead outcomes and how most companies could substantially increase return on marketing programs. Right now, companies misuse valuable data that results from marketing contact. It is ironic, because with all of the talk about “Big Data,” there is a lot of very valuable “Little Data” being ignored.

For example, did you know?

  • 70 – 94% of leads generated by marketing are ignored by sales.
  • For every real, sales-ready lead generated, there is a “pipeline” lead that is highly likely to convert to a sales-ready lead within 1 – 3 months.
  • For every 100 “suspects” dispositioned*, 25 should be carefully nurtured by a live person over the next year.
  • For every 100 suspects dispositioned, 35 – 45 of them will be unresponsive to the first touch cycle, but a significant portion of those non-responsive names will close as business for your company or a competitor within one year.
  • Senior executives are 2.5 times more responsive to quality calls and voicemails than their more junior counterparts … AND, they are substantially less likely to give up their digital body language via marketing automation.

I will discuss each of these in detail as the series progresses, but let’s start with the first bullet.

Why Are Leads Ignored by Sales?

Sales executives have been conditioned to expect poor quality leads from marketing. In my whitepaper, “Why Your Sales Force Needs Fewer Leads,” I contend that: “Sales reps don’t need more leads. They need fewer leads—fewer raw, unfiltered, unqualified leads. Sales reps need leads that have been carefully qualified, properly and consistently nurtured, and appropriately developed—increasing the likelihood of a completed sale.”

The problem is that marketing is frequently compensated on the number of leads generated and for reducing the cost per lead. In one unfortunately common example, a very large global software company generated and sent 9,000 leads to sales that were all but ignored. Despite knowing that the leads were, in fact, pure garbage, the marketers continued to send those leads to sales without prequalification—and apparently without regret. Astonishing, I know. But it doesn’t have to be.

Here is my recommendation:

  1. Marketing, sales and C-level executives agree on the definition of a lead.
  2. Leads rejected by sales are evaluated by the most appropriate, highest level executives (I like to call this the “judicial branch”)—not just marketing and sales. The objective is to determine if the rejected lead was not in fact a lead, or if the sales follow-up was insufficient.
  3. Fix both problems and make sure that bad leads are NOT being sent to sales and that good leads are NOT being wasted by sales.

Does your team cherish or ignore leads? Do they cultivate or neglect leads? Do they nourish or starve leads? It’s worth your time and attention to find out—and fix it!

Stay tuned for Part 2: Pipeline leads and how to nurture them.

*Disposition – noun: the classification of a prospect account as determined after a cycle of lead qualification activity; verb: to classify prospect accounts using a cycle of lead qualification activity. Standard PointClear disposition categories include: Lead, Pipeline, Nurture, Disqualified, No Response, Bad.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dan McDade
Dan McDade founded PointClear in 1997 with the mission to be the first and best company providing prospect development services to business-to-business companies with complex sales processes. He has been instrumental in developing the innovative strategies that drive revenue for PointClear clients nationwide.


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