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When Your Sales Team Only Calls on Existing Accounts

“My top performers bring in large projects. It’s great. The problem is, they only cultivate the same big-budget customers year after year. I know there is money I’m leaving on the table. That’s not so great.” 

You know what we’re talking about here. Your sales team operates within a specific territory. Within that territory are customers with consistent needs. Those needs are attached to large budgets. Your team sells to the low hanging fruit and hits quotas while other medium or small opportunities go unattended. You know you are leaving money on the table. You just don’t know how much. 

That’s the problem. 

What’s the solution?
A one-two punch.

Punch One: Establish Your 24/7/365 Lead Management Program – The People Part 

Getting leads is “easy” when you have the right marketing strategy in place. Turning leads into sales is hard, especially if your internal team isn’t ready to qualify, pass, and follow the lead. The connection between marketing and sales is often one of the weakest in an organization. Why is that? 

  1. Disconnect between marketing and sales about the profile of the target buyer.
    We’ve been talking about breaking down the silo between marketing and sales for decades but so few organizations really accomplish this. As long as a company lacks a formalized process for connecting sales intelligence to marketing implementation there will always be a disconnect between leads coming in and leads that fit the sales sweet spot. 
  2. Lack of process.
    It’s likely that sales and marketing team members wear more than one hat. The process of passing leads from marketing to sales can’t be higgledy piggledy. Lead scoring, distribution, follow up, qualifying, and nurturing all need to be defined and refined in advance.
  3. Lack of accountability.
    It’s likely that your organization has a process in place for measuring the impact of and accountability for closed sales. X number of leads came in, X number became quotes, X number were closed. If you’re like many storage and manufacturing brands, your close rate is somewhere around 20%. But who is held accountable for the leads that don’t close? What is your company’s process for evaluating the leads that don’t close, identifying why, and implementing strategies to increase your close rates, even by a few percentages? 

Before you launch your Digital Lead Gen program, you must have a plan in place for: 

  1. Who will capture the leads that come in, review them, and parse them to the appropriate sales person? 
  2. What dealers or reps will receive which types of leads? Figure it out internally and then inform your partners. They need to know what is coming their way just as you need to know what you’re going to do when your program begins to deliver. 
  3. Determine how quickly you will respond and with what message. 
  4. Identify your systems for tracking leads and sales coming from your lights-out lead gen initiative 

It’s all so obvious, isn’t it? Then why are multimillion dollar brands that have been around for decades still struggling with the above? Because it’s hard. That’s why. But we can’t make the lead generation process (punch #2) worth the effort if we haven’t filled the gaps in the “people” part of the lead management program. 

The worst thing you can do is start pumping money into a lead gen program that you’re not prepared to manage. What can be more damaging to your brand than a client who wants to work with you but never hears back from you? We get copied on our clients’ inquiries. One of the worst things we’ve read is prospect after prospect saying, “I’m trying to contact you…no one responds. I’m done.” 

Before you play, you have to identify your players. Once you have the right people and processes in place, you can move on to the knock out punch. 

 

Punch Two: 24/7/365 Digital Lead Gen 

24/7/365, never-off, always-on digital lead gen connects your brand with your buyers in such a way as to deliver quality and quantity leads. 

Last year, our client asked us to develop such a program. We did and within 7 months we delivered a 288% increase in leads even during the initial Covid crisis. (We also helped them reactivate 5% of their inactive dealers during this time period. Click to read how.) 

We have a proven model for delivering a steady stream of quality leads for your team to qualify and manage. Here’s a snapshot of that process: 

  1. Deep target audience research—knowing exactly what motivates end users to buy and why. If you market to different industries, then you market to different buyer motivation. One size fits all in terms of messaging, and how you solve pain points simply won’t work anymore. 
  2. Micro-targeted campaign elements directed at niche buyers. The strategy we use includes a high volume of high-quality content, so we are never afraid to zoom in and speak directly to a very specific group. How do you think we deliver those quality leads? By going one on one with people who are deep in the funnel for your solutions. 
  3. Constant measurement and reporting of results so you know what is working (so you can amplify it) and what is not working (so you can tweak or whack it). 
  4. Using a range of tactics to capture prospects in the active search phase, including but not limited to PPC and email. 

The model we employed for one national manufacturer provided two types of leads: High-margin, large “traditional” projects to be handled by experienced reps and their selected dealer and small-margin, less complex projects that could be passed to dealers better suited for this type of project. The result is that the manufacturer wasn’t leaving as much money on the table as they had before when leads were either going to the large rep/dealer model or being pretty much ignored. How does a company grow using that approach? 

We should add a word here about marketing accountability since we’ve identified that accountability is critical to long-term success. A 24/7/365 digital lead gen campaign should be entirely measurable. With the proper tools in place such as automated email nurturing, dedicated phone numbers, website behavioral tracking, and more, you should be able to identify exactly which campaign delivered what outcome. 

Each company is different. Your internal team certainly offers different dynamics and your brand has very different goals, challenges, and opportunities. One challenge is consistent across brand: sales teams are often overwhelmed with hot prospects and the likelihood of dropping warm and cool leads in favor for the hot is strong, even among the most well-meaning teams. 

Lead generation doesn’t have to be complex, but it does have to be planned, monitored, and managed. It can also be automated to help your company grow at a comfortable pace. For more on that, read part 2 of this article.

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