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Sales Eye - Turning leads into sales (Sept 20th, 2004)



Turning leads into sales

20th September 2004


Your firm would have a huge marketing budget, taking out full-page ads in Gazeta Wyborcza and everybody would want your product or service because it is unique, the best quality and at the cheapest price. To top that, all your happy clients would be giving you great referrals. Isn't life just wonderful?


Wake up! It ain't that easy.

Salespeople seem to be on a never-ending search for "qualified leads." That's why salespeople go to tradeshows and collect hundreds of business cards. They go to business mixers and networking events to mingle and mix and give their 30 second personal commercials. The marketing department does e-mailings and purchases databases left and right, uploading thousands of contacts into the company CRM system. Heck, you can even buy the WBJ's Book of Lists on CD Rom and get complete up-to-date information on hundreds of key decision makers sorted by industry.


Lost leads

The sad fact is that 90 percent of leads are never acted on!

Business cards collected from mixers are stacked high and wrapped with rubber bands, then they start growing dust. There is no follow-up. The CRM system is full of hundreds of companies that have not been called in months. Contacts from trade shows are photocopied and redistributed to the sales force... and "you'll get to them when you get to them."


Meanwhile, the marketing department is asked to deliver more and more leads, and the salespeople have already decided these leads are worthless and a waste of time.


But generating sales leads is easy. The challenge is in generating qualified sales leads and then converting them into sales. This takes a lot of effort. Traditional research shows that only one out of every five qualified sales leads are converted into sales. But many companies are not able to match this due to poor follow-up and weak procedures.


The System

Here are some steps to a Lead Generation System that would make a great starting point for any sales force:


Step 1: Define your target

Which customers buy from you and why? Not only is your company or service unique, but so is your client list. Try to describe the three most important reasons that companies buy from you-this will help you identify which sort of leads will fall in the "qualified category" instead of the "waste of time category."


Step 2: Develop a direct response medium

Brainstorm with your marketing department and create ideas that will generate a direct response from those that receive it. Nobody knows customers better than the sales force. It can be e-mail promotions, newsletters, small advertisements or a variety of other methods. Remember that you don't want to sell the product, just create interest. Identify a problem that your target group has, and offer a way that they can learn how to solve it. By contacting you, they can get answers to their biggest problems.


Step 3: Create an organized follow-up system

Otherwise known as your response mechanism. This step needs to have its own mini-steps, and is the most important step for salespeople.


First, create a place to log all the leads that you receive. Then decide on the appropriate response. It may be a phone call, e-mail, or mailed literature. Just make sure that your follow-up system doesn't end here, as this is where 90 percent of salespeople "drop the ball": they receive a lead, send an e-mail, and then get distracted and never follow-up again.


Create a phone script that will help you identify where they got your contact from (if they contact you). This will help your company define which types of programs and ideas are working. Many CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems have built-in mechanisms that you can customize to help manage your leads. They include setting up a checklist of activities that are to be performed over a period of time. First, when a lead is entered, you may be instructed to call them to make an introduction. A second step may prompt you to send out a sales letter and special offer within five days after the call. A good CRM system will allow you to create the steps and they will remind you along the way of the next steps that need to be taken.


If you work for a small company with a small systems budget, dont panic. You dont need a fancy-schmancy CRM system to manage your leads. Joe Girard was in the Guinness Book of World Records for 12 years in a row as the World's Most Successful Salesperson. He holds the distinct record of having sold an average of six cars a day over his 40-year sales career. And he doesn't use computers; he simply uses index cards and a rolodex to manage his leads and his prospects. But his follow-up system and selling skills allow him to make sure that every qualified lead gets followed.


Just do it

We give a lot of sales advice in this column, but improving your sales lead management is probably one of the most important bits of advice we'll ever give. If you really want to see your sales results increase, put these suggestions to work now.



From Warsaw Business Journal by John Lynch, Matt Lynch -"The Sales Brothers"