Gone are the days when you could call 20 people, get through to at least 10 of them and get an appointment with 4-5 prospects. Today, “success” means getting through to 1 out of 20 people you call, and that’s on a good day.
The big change has been that an “iron curtain” has come down in front of businesses, preventing access to everyone. That means that salespeople (in the proper business development sense), are faced with a firewall of blockages, obstacles and filters when trying to connect with new prospects. Even the claim by a new salesperson that they will bring leads and customers with them from their old job no longer holds water (not that it ever really did). This change has profound implications for how you support your business development salespeople; you cannot assume they will conjure up “leads” like they seem to be able to do in the past.
1 A starting point (especially if you are a SME or expansion company) is to get your data into shape first. The sales world tends to confuse data and leads. Most time is wasted by senior salespeople looking for data, not leads. Don’t have your senior people foraging around for “names” , numbers, web links or LinkedIn profiles. Get someone else ( a lot less expensive) to do this work. Decide what data is needed to build up a lead, and then what data is easily or immediately available using desk work. Again, much of the data work can be done by more junior people e.g., an intern.
2 Then decide what data can only be acquired by actively calling a company; this can be slow and arduous, but it can be done.
3 Only then should you start to consider if the data should go to the salesperson, or do you further quality and try to initiate contact.
4 Rather than put your “leads” data into the opportunity pipeline, create a separate Leads Pipeline, and introduce a handover protocol to “sales.”
This is a big topic that we will come back to again. If you are a large or enterprise company, you are already well ahead in this type of approach, but smaller and growth companies struggle more with their leads than any other area in sales and need to sharpen their axe in the lead generation and management area if they want to grow the customer base.
Having said all this, as a matter of reality, very few salespeople live off the leads supplied by the company. At a minimum, the company should be supplying enough leads to keep the salesperson’s calendar 40-60% scheduled. Senior, capable salespeople will still be able to find the balance of the required leads, unless you decide that your salespeople only work on the qualified opportunities you supply. If that’s the case, you need to fund and support 100% lead generation, either through outbound, inbound or a combination of the two channels.