Leads are screwing up our sales process (But not why you might think.)
Not because we don’t have enough leads, or the quality of our leads aren’t good.
Not because our sales process has been turned upside down to get leads even faster (although all true, yes?)
Not even because our death-match staring contests with marketing over lead quality and follow up are escalating.
Seriously, when did you learn to sell Marketing? (and be honest Sales Leaders, how much credit do your reps really give the lead score?)
Leads are screwing up selling in that salespeople have now actually forgotten how to sell.
Too Many Leads Have Made Your Reps WORSE At Selling
We’re giving reps so many leads that it’s faster, easier, and hell, probably actually smarter to ditch the hard ones to make time for the next cherry.
And we’ve just brought in a whole new generation of reps who don’t know life before twenty fresh inbound leads per day.
Unfortunately, they probably never will know how to sell.
(Hint: these are the kids spamming you on LinkedIn.)
Before you quit reading and decide that I’m a no-good marketing sympathizer who’s handing marketing a huge compliment by saying we’ve become too dependent, read this story and see if you:
1. Might agree with me, and…
2. Might even spot some of these tendencies on your floor.
A small online technical training company in FL gives their BDR (this is Lead Gen, SDR, Biz Dev to some friends) Team lists of companies to outbound call, uncover opportunity, and pass to an inside/outside ISE. Because their industry is industrial, they will often break in through an industrial or tech role like maintenance engineer, shift manager, etc.
Their new rep (let’s call him Ben) shows me his lead list (hundreds you guys, he’s scrolling and scrolling here) and explains that these seventeen that he’s highlighted are the ones that he is working. Why? Because Ben used to be a production engineer and he has good luck breaking into the leads with that title listed.
OK my trusty team of readers. What did he do right? Total props for finding his “In”, yes?
And what is going to happen to those OTHER 300 leads without that title listed?
Let’s be clear on 2 things:
- Every one of those leads HAS a production engineer in the company; it’s just not listed on the lead (and may have a different title).
- If the Ben on your team hasn’t targeted a lead for some reason, it will likely get the three-voicemail throw away and you’ll be giving him 300 more on Monday.
And what COULD we be doing with this list? I’ll tell you what Ben’s boss hired us to teach him:
- Find out what the account is potentially worth before even trying to find the right DM. We call it sales qualification – using any live body to score revenue potential (not lead buying potential).
- Prioritize Ben’s list with the big potential on top (not the rep’s favorite title or home state) and call “A” potential leads 15 times and “C” potential 3 times
- How to go and get the production engineer’s name, title, and direct dial number
Guys, Ben set his lead list on FIRE. There’s a strategy in place, he’s excited about uncovering A’s, and he’s lighting up the phone finding contacts and working the list instead of going through the voicemail motions just to get his next list to cherry-pick.
And yes, the results spiked. By the end of the month the team nearly doubled the number of qualified leads passed and accepted. I can’t wait to see what happened to lead spend.
You’re going to love this next example. Give your guys inbound leads?
I spent a few days on the floor of a massive internet tech company with their inbound team. These guys get so many good calls a day that the top guys have basically just learned how to not pee for a workday. Wish I was kidding.
If they’re 3 min into a call that is slightly annoying what have they learned to do? You got it. They ditch the caller and get the next one.
It’s like watching the old ladies in Vegas who spin the reels again and again and don’t even watch the slot machine to see the result.
They’re addicted to the pull, the HOPE that the next caller will be triple 7’s.
And naturally they’re randomly rewarded (the strongest form of behavior modification) so the addiction is set.
As leaders we’ve been so concerned with getting them the good leads that we forgot to teach them what to do with them!
Once again, we fall into the trap of buying our sales teams stuff that would have made us superhero reps when we were reps.
But the hard truth is that we don’t have a lot of superhero potential on our teams anymore.
The war for sales talent is too great and these guys have never really had to learn sales.
It’s like what they say about pretty people not having to try hard in bed. We’ve made reps lazy and entitled by surrounding them with leads they can cherry-pick to quota.
I call it the…
“Silver Platter Syndrome”
So why is this a Syndrome and not a celebration? Because quota attainment is going down folks.
Check out CSO Insights numbers:
Ability to attain quota: 63% in 2012. 57% in 2016 (CSO Insights)
Forecasted deals won: 47%
The number of C-level execs that say the rep added value to the process: under 20%.
We’re not meeting goals, we can’t predict what will close, and our customers would rather do it without us.
As an industry we are LOSING you guys!
And I see a direct correlation in the decline of sales ability with the increase in lead spend and marketing-driven (and customer-driven) sales.
Too Many Leads Wasted? Here’s How To Diagnose (And Treat) Silver Platter Syndrome With Swift Action!
Maybe we all see it and I’m just the only one who’s saying it.
Maybe we all don’t want to see it. So don’t take my word for it.
Here’s how to diagnose Silver Platter Syndrome on your sales floor:
What percent of opps in stage one began as leads? Are there ANY that reps self-generated?
How do reps determine who to call first on their list?
How many touches do leads get before they are trashed / recycled? How is this managed?
When you listen to a call, does the rep ask at least 5 sales questions? Do they try to close?
What are you spending to generate these leads and what’s your current ROI or % closed (or however you measure it. Has it gone down?)
So copy and paste this next part into your calendar for a week from now OK? Because once you go out and investigate this, you’re going to have a serious OMG moment that I hope sounds a lot like,
“Holy hell! LB was right!! I have to take ACTION! Silver Platter Syndrome will NOT stand on my floor!”
5 Specific Steps To Cure Silver Platter Syndrome
- Reduce lead flow. Don’t cut it all at once, the poor babies will starve.
- If there are only 30 inbound calls, I might not hang up on this one until I’ve really tried…
- Hire more heads if you can’t slow down the engine.
- You’ll lose a few reps who don’t like to share their leads – good riddance.
- Implement lead management rules + inspection.
- No Ben, you can’t have more leads until you finish working the ones you have!
- Install sales qualification.
- It’s different than a lead score and your rep scores it himself so he’ll actually believe it
- Get them some sales training (why yes, I’d LOVE to help you with this thanks for asking).
- Sales qualification, capturing new contacts, asking questions, closing… they need it all!
Agree? Disagree? Is Silver Platter a syndrome or a celebration? Give me your thoughts and share your stories!
Also published on Medium.