Lead Generation – Getting Qualified Leads

Many salespeople believe that lead generation, and marketing in general, is about getting as many people through the door as possible. But what good are leads who have no need or interest in your product?

Something I’ve seen over and over is that many of my clients originally believe that marketing and lead generation is supposed to bring “as many people through the door” as possible. It isn’t. It is about “getting the most qualified people through the door.”

I’ve developed a rule of thumb in my business consulting that has helped me identify one of the big problems my clients frequently have. The rule goes this way:

If there are

  • two different groups responsible for lead generation and sales, and
  • if marketing success (advertising, lead generation) seems extraordinarily high,
  • while the sales close ratio is way down (maybe 1 in 10) then the chances are that the marketing and lead generation efforts are not qualifying the leads. The target has been to get the most people through the door instead of the most qualified people.

One of my sales trainees ended up with an extremely high cold calling response rate. It was nearly 90% of every live person she could reach. She was convincing nearly everyone she could actually talk to to explore the next steps.

She had convinced one of the other companies in the class to hire her to do their telemarketing. The result of her telemarketing was that she was bringing in a flood of leads to their sales department. The problem was that the sales department was not able to close many of these leads.

She could generate lots of leads. She could generate a lot of interest but she had failed to qualify these people, to make sure that they could and would be able to buy.

On one hand it proved that what we had been doing in the sales training worked as she was able to generate so much interest. On the other, she was abusing the influencing skills she had developed in our class, and wasn’t qualifying the people before passing the lead on to sales.

Let me give you another rule of thumb I use. The sales process usually is more labor intensive than the marketing and lead generation process. If the leads aren’t being qualified in the marketing step then a lot of time is wasted in the sales process talking to unqualified people. The sales response rates will drop and not really indicate the true sales success.

If a sales person is talking to a qualified prospect his sales close ratio should be in the 40-50%, or even higher, range. However, if he is fed leads that aren’t qualified, he is having to qualify leads that should have been qualified by the marketing and lead generation process and taking a lot of valuable sales time. Now his sales success will go through the floor.

So, if you see a high marketing, lead generation success and low sales success look into the fact that they might be receiving unqualified leads as a potential cause before accusing sales of being failures or before providing training to the sales department.

If, as is frequently the case, the sales department is also responsible for generating their own leads, I’ve seen sales people that are excellent at lead generation but couldn’t close a deal if their job depended on it, and it does. I’ve also seen excellent closers that couldn’t find a lead with both hands. Evaluate your sales team by assessing these two separate skills. They are, indeed, two separate skills and frequently not at the same skill level in your sales people.

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