What makes some sales organizations close more deals in the same market, with a similar product and a similar value proposition?
During the last Sales 2.0 Conference, we noticed a significant surge in interest in sales lead management. In November, 2008, Aberdeen surveyed 213 organizations and found that only 16% of the total, sales-ready opportunities, actually close. A recent report by Aberdeen (August 2009) shows that sales organizations that have significantly improved their lead-management process have achieved dramatic improvements in sales productivity (and closed more sales) compared to the average performers.
Below are ten success factors for sales lead management:
1. Effective online lead sources. Successful sales organizations offer their salespeople instant access to online solutions that provide deep insight into their prospect companies, current data on the key decision makers, industry background, as well as social media.
2. Effective collaborations between sales and marketing around the key question: What constitutes a sales-ready lead?
3. Clear definition of what constitutes a prospect. For example, Mike Bosworth, founder of Customer Centric Selling, defines a prospect as someone who has admitted a problem or stated a need.
4. Initial lead scoring. A tested and proven process that defines the customer’s ability and willingness to purchase. Good Leads, an outsourcing lead-management company, determines lead success by considering four criteria: budget, decision makers needs? (Does the prospect recognize the pain that your solution can solve?), and time frame (Is there a deadline for solving the problem in 30/60/90 days?).
5. Progressive lead scoring. After each completed activity in the buying cycle, successful sales organizations re-score the lead based on the prospect’s specific behavior, not on the salesperson’s hunches. Example: A salesperson has demonstrated product features to the prospect online. This action should not automatically lead to a higher score; however, if the prospect has completed a post-demonstration survey and rated the need/solution fit high, then the chances for closing the sale could move up.
6. Segment your customer base. Focused attention yields better results.
7. Lead nurturing campaigns. Best practices include educating prospects through Webinars, white papers, invitations to regional events where prospects can meet company experts and existing customers, invitations to social media groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, invitations to follow your company on Twitter, sharing of industry research and customer success reports.
8. Lead management technology. Successful companies track prospects' footprints on their Website, offer live chat, follow up on an online request within less than 5 minutes, and deliver marketing content that’s most appropriate at every stage of the buying cycle.
9. Sales enablement technology. Successful sales organizations systematically share best sales practices across the organization. Salespeople should not have to reinvent presentations that have been created and successfully delivered by their peers. Salespeople need real-time access to existing sales collateral, rich data to provide customers with the right amount information required to advance the decision. They also need real-time access to each other to share tribal knowledge across the sales organization.
10. Productive analytics. Successful sales leaders leverage information to boost sales performance. They know the important ratios between qualified leads and closed sales. They hear that sales stages are clearly visible in the pipeline. They can quickly spot underperforming reps and respond to new sales trends.
Stay tuned: A buying guide to the best sales lead sources will be published in the September, 2009 issue of Selling Power. This guide offers an objective comparison of the solutions offered by sales lead suppliers, including number of customers, number of seats, content-gathering methods, how content is updated, and more.
Learn more about lead management: Sales 2.0 Conference, Boston
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