5 Critical Sales Lead Management Mistakes
I’m often asked about the technology I use to keep track of my busy day. Because I’m a Social CRM consultant (formerly known as a Database Marketing Consultant), I’m expected to be “up” on the latest hardware, sofware, gadget and widget silver-bullet du jour.
Actually, I’m an old-fashioned girl in this department. I believe “less is more.” On the “adopter” bell-shaped curve, I’m definitely a “Missouri Show-Me” late majority. There are too many time-suck temptations already. If I forget this lesson, all I have to do is look at my 16-year-old niece who hasn’t made eye contact with another human since acquiring her iPhone six months ago. But for those of us who manage a monthly sales quota and have jobs that require us to be social networkers, business is no longer sustainable without at least a database.
These are the 5 critical sales lead management mistakes I see most often:
Mistake #1: Not having a customer/prospect database. FastCompany says the average executive wastes 6 weeks a year looking for stuff. And what are we looking for most often? Phone numbers, papers and files, notes, checklists or items to put on our checklists. If your entire world–customers, prospects, vendors, friends, family–is stored in only one easily accessible database, then you never have to look in multiple places (or on more than one Post-It or spreadsheet) to find critical contact info. Window of opportunity met; search frustration eliminated.
Mistake #2: Not giving salespeople the right tools they need to do their #1 job: to sell. I’m always amazed when the sum total of a company’s sales process boils down to “make cold calls and send me your call report weekly.” Mandatory sales closing tools for salespeople are a) a customer/prospect database, b) a lead-generation marketing program and c) an automated follow-up drip-marketing program where leads that aren’t ready to buy now can be nurtured until they’re ready to be closed.
Why don’t more sales organizations subscribe to this sales automation methodology? First, they’re living in the past, when Willy Loman types could carry a bag door to door and, by virtue of “the numbers”, stumble over sales. That type of selling is at death’s door, if not DOA already. Customers are self-servicing the discovery, consideration, short list and negotiation phases of the sales cycle. We’re lucky to be called in at the end when a there’s a specific question or an RFP to respond to. Ugh. The RFP: a salesperson’s worst sales opportunity.
Second, companies believe they pay high salaries to salespeople to perform the entire lead-to-customer process. But all parts of the sales process are not created equal. Why match a 6-figure salesperson to the $10/hour job of cold calling–even cold-calling new inquiries that haven’t yet scored for emotional qualification? This is a sure-fire way to extend the sales cycle (and pay out even more in expensive salaries).
And let’s not even think about what happens to those expensive leads when the high-paid salesperson quits and nothing’s been documented. The Alexander Group found that only 38% of all sales teams met their annual sales quotas last year. Sure, we’re in a bad economy and “no one’s buying anything.” But could some of that failure to achieve be the mismatch of talent-to-job duties? If a company downsizes and the sales rep must now take on more admin duties in addition to selling, won’t that ultimately affect sales results?
Mistake #3: Trying to solve every problem with technology. This is as bad as trying to band-aid every problem with no technology. In every sales organization there are technology champions and anti-computer curmudgeons, and never the twain shall meet.
In my experience, many computer-phobes got that way because their companies’ systems changed so often that they were forced into “que sera” mode and created their own systems–one that allows them to do their job, regardless of how the company thought it should be done (solution du jour).
They’re deathly afraid to learn something new IN CASE it doesn’t work and they’ll still be held accountable. This is exactly the kind of passive-aggressive smart bomb that can tank an under-planned new technology initiative. I can’t count the number of times a sales manager or business owner has said to me, “We can’t automate our sales process; our people won’t use it.” While that’s a little like letting the inmates run the asylum, I’ve found it’s really more a matter of engineering in a higher benefit for the salespeople so that management isn’t the only piece of the company that wins with technology.
Many computer-phobes are trainable. If they’re not, and they’re big producers, having an admin take their paperwork and automate it still produces ROI in most cases. That’s because only 13% of the pipeline is ready to buy today. The rest need nurturing, and that top-producer is not going to waste his time on that low-level lead.
I’ll pick up with the last of my sales lead management mistakes in my next post. Please leave me your thoughts below.