From Salespeople: “Should I Follow Up All Sales Leads?”

Answer: Follow up only those you want to sell to.

When salespeople, with a pained look in their eyes and a high-pitched whine in their voice, ask me “Do I really need to follow up all the leads?” I say “Of course.”  It’s not unlike the dental patient who asks if he should floss every tooth. The dentist’s answer is, “Only those teeth you want to keep.”  I tell salespeople to, “Just follow up those you want a sale from and leave the unfollowed-up leads to your competitors.”

When asked why they don’t follow up leads, most salespeople think they are clairvoyant.  As an example, this is what I have heard:

“I can tell who the buyers are just by looking at the lead,” they say.    “For instance, those without phone numbers, forget it.  Those without a company name, don’t bother. Those who don’t answer any qualifying questions, avoid.  Those who are at the far end of my territory, not going there.  Those considering non-quota products; no time.  Those who don’t have an immediate need, maybe later.  Those who inquired 2-3 times but never bought, they’re dead to me.  Those who look like students, also dead.  Those that might be from a competitor, dead on arrival.  Other than all these just mentioned, I’ll follow up those who have an immediate need.”

“Hmmm,” I say, “that seems to narrow the field a bit.”

The next question salespeople ask is, “Please define follow-up?  Is it following up until I get an answer from the prospect?  Or until I contact them via email and telephone six times and give up on the 7th time?  Maybe only three times?  Tell me what is follow-up?”

My only response, ultimately, is that every sales inquiry (lead) must have a 100% follow-up if you want to reach 100% of the available buyers.

No one is clairvoyant enough to pick out the 45% who will eventually buy from someone.  Of course, marketing automation can help in nurturing and follow-up.  Outbound calling using services or your outbound department can filter and find the qualified leads, but the fact remains, the salespeople who sell the most have a 100% follow-up policy.

One caveat is similar to advice I got years ago about investments: “Don’t chase sunk costs.”  In this case the sunk cost is the lead and your follow-up.  If the person you reach out to has been contacted 6-8 times and never responded, record it in the CRM system and move on. Don’t chase sunk sales lead costs.

Why it is Important:

“Salespeople who sell more have a 100% follow-up policy; but if you choose, you can follow up just those leads you want a sale from and leave the unfollowed-up leads to your competitors.”

Victor Kippes

Which brings us to what the event manager can do about making sure all the inquiries and leads she/he produces at events are followed up.

Managing ROI by Event Managers: You Create the Wealth, Time to take Credit!

  1. Register every event in your CRM system as a “Campaign” for tracking purposes.
  2. Lead Form: Survey the lead form and make sure it has:
    1. Qualifying questions centered around budget, authority to buy, need and timeframe for the purchase.
    2. Use easy-to-check boxes on the form.
    3. Insert the ability to have an open text area for comments.
    4. No blank contact information allowed: Name, Company, Address, Zip Code (mail code for international) phone number and email address.
  3. Lead Distribution: Make sure the event/exhibit leads are distributed to the salespeople immediately. Preferably the same day of the show.  Most leads are from around the world and the person inquiring at the show usually passed the information along to a another decision maker(s).
  4. Nurturing: Check that your event/exhibit leads are in the nurturing system (with or without marketing automation). When the prospect from the event receives what they asked for, in whatever form, is it clear that this is what they asked about at XYZ Event?
  5. CRM Follow-up Reports: Check every event campaign in the CRM system for sales lead follow-up.  If follow-up isn’t recorded in the CRM system, as far as you are concerned it didn’t happen. Low numbers, talk to the salespeople or the sales manager.

This is not too complicated as 85% of companies have a CRM system and about 50%+ have a marketing automation system (an admitted guess on my part).

Want to know what the top marketing automation systems are?  Go here for a report from Business-Software.com

Want to know what the top CRM systems are?  Go here for a report, also from Business- Software.com.

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