Everyone who sells for a living wants more leads – lots and lots of leads. So, in companies both large and small, the marketing department turns on the lead-generating machine (more advertising, trade shows, sales events, etc.) and the salespeople start pounding on doors. Of course, in a small company, the marketing department and sales department is often just one person who might also be the only employee, and so the marketing and sales roles need to be efficient.
All too often, salespeople are chasing bad leads – tire kickers, inquirers, folks who will attend a trade show to just pick up promotional give-a-ways, folks who collect literature, and those who won’t buy anything or can’t buy anything for any number of reasons. The goal of generating leads is to generate qualified leads (with emphasis on the “qualified” part) so that the time and effort invested in the sales process is spent on those prospects who are most likely to make a purchase.
Non-productive leads can be minimized, but certainly not eliminated, by using positioning statements in marketing strategy and asking the prospect probing questions relative to their real interest or their ability to purchase what you sell. It isn’t necessary to ask “in person”; your advertising can ask those questions also, often in very subtle but meaningful ways.
- An investment firm’s advertising states “If your portfolio is over $500,000… “
- A home improvement contractor’s website asks prospects to fill in a number of blanks about a proposed project before committing to send out a salesperson.
- At a trade show, a salesperson of industrial equipment takes an inquirer’s contact information and asks a series of qualifying questions to determine whether to schedule an appointment after the show.
- An employee training firm asks questions to discover how many employees a prospect has to offer either a “distance-learning” or “in-person” training package.
- A children’s day school clearly states the acceptable ages of children and then asks about the age of a prospect’s children before offering a complimentary tour.
Sure, if you ask to respectfully qualify prospects, you won’t get as many responses, but you will be wasting less time chasing unqualified prospects, and those who qualify will be more likely to be really interested in and able to purchase your product or service. The net result of attracting better-qualified leads is that salespeople will spend their time more productively, selling more while prospecting less. Isn’t a small group of qualified leads better than a ton of bad ones?