Brian Carroll

Sales Leads Are Too Valuable For Sales People Alone

David Meerman Scott’s blog post, "Sales Leads Are too Valuable for Sales People," is worth a read. He shows the folly of marketers who throw sales leads over the wall and expect sales people to catch them. This is an ongoing pattern for lead generation failure. 

I’ve written that consistent, patient, long-term contact with sales prospects results in better ROI. The reality is that early-stage leads, which are often lost, ignored or discarded by sales people, represent between 40 and 70 percent of missed sales!

Because the sales team is responsible for much of the customer’s perception of the company, concerted care must go into developing the ongoing, relevant communications that the sales team will employ as it builds relationships with customers.

Marketing should nurture leads via a relevant and consistent dialog with prospects, regardless of their timing to buy.  A key aspect of lead nurturing is the ability to provide valuable education and information to prospects up front, so that you become more than an expert; you become a trusted advisor. 

Kate Maddox’s article in BtoB Magazine, "Integration Key to Lead Generation," emphasizes the need for close sales and marketing integration. The article is based on a recent white paper, as well as research by CSO Insights. 

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Current Affairs, Lead Generation, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Qualification, Leadership, Marketing Strategy, ROI Measurement, Sales Leads



  1. July 11th, 2006 at 14:08 | #1

    I completely agree, but it isn’t entirely Sales’ fault “that early-stage leads, which are often lost, ignored or discarded by sales people, represent between 40 and 70 percent of missed sales.”

    There is a long history of Sales and Marketing not working together and being unaligned. More impactful are the flurry of bad, untargeted and not-ready-for-prime-time leads that Marketing all too often passes on to Sales. That is why your advice to nurture leads is so important.

  2. July 11th, 2006 at 18:07 | #2

    Brian:

    This post is right-on! It’s so simple but, offenders abound. You can’t just scrape together leads and as you say, “toss them over the wall to sales”. There needs to be a multi-touch, human-based (but automated) system to manage sales/conversions.

    With the advancement in technology, there’s no longer any excuse that can fly as to why leads are not follow-up and added back into the marketing funnel/cycle. That’s one of the things we go over in our program, The Technology Diet…what technology do you REALLY need to make your business HAPPEN?

    Thanks for bringing us back to basics, Brian!

    Lena L. West
    Creator of http://www.TechnologyDiet.com
    CEO of http://www.xynoMedia.com

  3. ChanDonahower
    July 11th, 2006 at 19:15 | #3

    One way I’ve found to get Sales Engineers and Marketing to work together (for Cap’tl.-Gd’s.Mkt.)is to create specific “intra-communicated” protocols based on follow-up parameters:
    1. Size of potential targeted market (product-by-product)per critical time frame
    2. Potential for component,(sub)assembliy,parts and ancillary hardware/supplies marketing levels as OPPORTUNITY to educate (and, therefore sell)for future conditions
    3. Personal contact that RECOGNIZES supplier needs to meet a specific problem-solving situation that might not address IMMEDIATE sales opportunities, but places your contact to be an effective future problem solver for that specific client
    4. Opportunity to update relevant, “improved” product-line characteristics for PREVENTING FUTURE problems that your client will recognize as critical (for saving time/money/costly errors and “leg-ups.”)
    5. Consistent visibility and “conditioning” for client to think of YOU as The Source for future issues….
    All this(intra-Company)communication (in abbreviated form, as appropriate) between Marketing and Sales cannot help but increase understanding, timeliness, empathy and needed coordination that WILL positively affect THE BOTTOM LINE…
    Chan Donahower

  4. July 12th, 2006 at 00:11 | #4

    Thanks for your comments. I wanted to add a few points.

    I know most sales people don’t want to ignore good leads. In fact most, fully intend on keeping in contact. The problem is that they simply must focus on what is going to immediately turn to a sales in the short term. They don’t have the time to cultivate and develop opportunities.

    We need to remember the sales team is either doing selling activities or prospecting activities. It’s like a teeter-totter – when prospecting, the teeter-totter is up and when pursuing a hot deal it is down. If we as marketers view the sales team as our customer. And we’re committed to help the sales team sell. Then we must help our sales people by going beyond the basic lead. We need to help them cultivate and develop opportunities until they are mature sales ready leads.

  5. July 12th, 2006 at 22:20 | #5

    When I think “lead nurturing” I now think “Brian Carroll” because you’ve shone a bright spotlight on this key part of the marketing/sales teamwork. The one nuance I’d add is that Inside Sales (or teleprospecting really) can play a vital role here by ensuring that early stage leads aren’t lost in the crack between
    sales and marketing.

    The good firms I know will ping these prospects periodically (with relevant offers) to move them along the maturity process.

    Many thanks,
    Sridhar

  6. July 13th, 2006 at 10:10 | #6

    I agree that often times sales people feel pressured to follow only those leads that are more likely to convert to sales. It is a matter of how their performance is measured. They are rewarded for making the sale, so they go after the low hanging fruit. But that is ok, because that is what they are good at, closing business.

    Getting to the point about working in sync with marketing, most of the time it isn’t working like it could be. It should be marketing’s job to nurture leads until they are ripe enough (continuing the metaphor) for the sales people to go after. And even then, marketing can make sales’ job a lot easier by coming up with ways of shaking the tree so that all the best fruit is laying on the ground for sales to pick up, keeping them busy doing what they do best!

    But the real solution is for the CEO to get involved and change the way sales people are compensated. If the CEO just wants sales now, encourage more of the same. But if they want customers to perceive them as someone who wants to be a long-term partner and build relationships, they can easily change the structure or add a sales team just for maintaining long relationships until they are ready to make a purchase. The CEO is really the one who should be deciding on the vision and then directing marketing and sales to act in a way that will fulfill that vision. Only when working in alignment between the CEO, Marketing and Sales can an organization really reach their optimal level of sales and relationship building.

    Thanks for the insight.

    David

  7. April 27th, 2007 at 17:47 | #7

    Good article, I agree. The hand-off process between marketing and sales is often haphazard at best; the problem is of course if it can’t be tracked, no one knows how to respond. The VP of sales or CEO has no idea how leads are being won or lost. If you don’t know why a lead is “lost” or “won,” how do you plan an appropriate response to act on what’s working and discard what isn’t?

    In terms of getting immediate and ongoing responses to new or “hot” leads, there are a number of tech-related advances out there that can ease this. My company (InsideSales.com) has, for instance, developed a hosted CRM product which by itself is nothing out of the ordinary, but we have linked the CRM to outbound IVR and inbound ACD systems using CTI. This type of application lets our sales team hit new leads with a phone call within seconds, not hours or days.

  8. Beatriz Rodriguez
    May 25th, 2012 at 10:10 | #8

    It’s been my experience, as a customer to shop for the lowest prices and shipping, compare that with the cost of gas consumption and desired item(s). I find continuous follow ups to be more counter productive to the reason the salesman is making them for than what an ‘annoying’ salesperson realizes. Maximizing search engine visibility is of importance, determining what parameter the engine uses to sort its searches is also of great importance in positioning yourself for customers interests. But, thats just me.

  1. July 6th, 2007 at 10:01 | #1