Presumably, all sales departments want lead generation to be a priority. Nevertheless, some sales departments are set up to stifle lead generation rather than promote it. This is not done intentionally, of course, but sometimes a trickling lead pipeline has leaks that are barely visible to the naked eye. Here are a few issues that typically crop up.
1. Talented Reps Spending Too Much Time Prospecting
- The problem. To maximize revenue growth, top sales reps should be spending the bulk of their time in front of hot prospects developing and closing deals. But if these reps are forced to spend hours upon hours digging up leads (a slow, laborious process that’s 90 percent failure), that means fewer deals are going to close. What’s more, great closers are not necessarily great prospectors, so even the quality of prospects being developed may end up being subpar.
- The solution. Having robust inbound and outbound lead generation marketing campaigns takes the burden off the sales reps’ shoulders. In addition to or instead of this, developing an in-house prospecting team or using a third-party prospect development firm will increase the quantity and quality of leads.
2. Reps Clinging to Inactive Leads
- The problem. Sales reps are assigned leads … and never let them go, but also never work them. Over time, great potential leads sit dormant, while competitors swoop in and grab them.
- The solution. Leads should be assigned to a rep for a given amount of time, a time that is reasonable based on the selling cycle of your business. Once that time limit passes, leads should be reassigned or made available to anyone else on the sales team. A good classification system for leads also helps sales managers quickly identify and track the best leads that are in the system.
3. Insufficient Prospecting Review and Accountability
- The problem. Whether lead generation is assigned to sales reps, prospecting teams or marketing departments, productivity and effectiveness wither away because nobody in sales management is tracking results and pushing for improvements. As a lead generation marketing agency, we know all too well how crucial continuous review and testing are to successful campaigns. The minute you put an SEO, PPC or email campaign on autopilot, it’s heading for a crash landing.
- The solution. The first step is to track results and evaluate whether lead generation is going up, down or in circles. Dig in to the details to identify potential weaknesses in the system. From there, test alternative methods to find more effective approaches. Analyzing all of this as a team (with marketers, sales managers and sales reps involved) is tremendously healthy, but one person must ultimately be held accountable for lead generation — if not, lead generation will be just one more bullet point on a long list of priorities.
It’s easy for issues such as these to slide under the radar because it’s natural for sales management to focus on the other end of the funnel, to make sure great opportunities on the verge of doing business are turning into great customers.
But it takes as much time, training and talent to find leads as it does to close them, which is why a solid plan for lead generation is a must for every successful sales team.