March 21st 2008

Sales wants more opportunities to close, not more leads.

Sales wants more opportunities to close, not more leads.Hod to be wrong on so many levels
We have data that shows some of the most “successful” lead generation campaigns,resulted in fewer sales and reduced revenues. Hard to believe but true.

We have experienced in our younger days what a really successful marketing campaign coupled to a buggy not ready for prime time product can do to a company. Death comes, painfully and it comes in a huge onslaught . We are not talking about that today.

What I am describing is what can happen when your CE/COO/VP Sales has a brain fart and decides that to make the targets that he/she just pulled out the air, the sales force just needs more leads. The math seems simple to Mr Brilliant, to increase sales 20% to hit that “strretch” number, go out and generate 20% more leads. Ah heck lets go for 30% more, I am paying the sales guys way to much anyway. Might as well reset their targets to boot (Shades of Glengarry Glenross , Alex Baldwin is such a “model” motivator)
I have seen it happen time after time. The lead gen group goes into high gear with the extra money they have been given and they do a crackerjack job. Leads are over 40% on a month to month basis. They are throwing so many leads over the wall to sales, folks are ordering in extra baskets. The money is just pouring out the door for campaigns.

Sales is really busy, but in a strange stressed out way. The sales bell over time is ringing less and less. As the quarterly reports come in Mr. Brilliant is more and more concerned . Lead are up, sales activity is up, costs are up all around, but sales profits are actually declining quarter over quarter. By year end , they do not do as well as the previous year in fact they often do much much worse.

So what gives? Really simple. If you just add more raw leads to the sales force, you end up taking away time from the sales team to work on leads that are already or are becoming sales ready. Sales spends too much time qualifying the new “suspects” that the real opportunities do not get closed, and those that do are oftne rushed for a lower margin sale. Oh yah and just “adding” more sales people to that situation really helps – to increase costs.

Sales and marketing is a system that must work together in a designed process. The brilliant instigator was looking at spreadsheet numbers not the buyers’ processes. Sale ready leads are grown over time, not forced out by a clever marketing campaign. You can only know this if you monitor buyer behavior, requests and cycles over time. Yes buyers may not ask for the same things in the same order, but you can expect a need at some time for:

  • Time to qualify them,
  • They will want proof materials that you have solved this for others in their industry like them
  • You will need to spend time learning about their business and how they buy and who buys
  • How your solution best fits their situation
  • When and who needs a demo? pilot, trial?
  • Time lines and expected outcomes,
  • Answers to the financial and legal depts.?

None of this goes away. So once again , an individual finds a simple solution to a complex problem – And it is wrong.

Wrong on so many levels. A misuse of the marketing department who should be researching the market , finding and and nurturing suspects into sale ready leads. A misuse of the sales team, what a way to demoralize a group -= overwork them, miss their targets and lose bonus. A misuse of company funds, lost profits and likely a big setback in the market. Plus you may have really messed with the market messages to drive those leads, so you have to spend more money to get back to where you were. Mr. Brilliant would have helped more by staying in the clubhouse. but hey I’m just a sales guy what do I know. That’s 30.

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