In his new book, "The Truth About Leads," Dan McDade, president and CEO of PointClear, explores how the quest for leads can ruin the sales process by clogging a company's pipeline with prospects that seem good, but are still unlikely to convert. Specifically, leads that "create the appearance of sales, rather than real opportunities." McDade shares these seven takeaways that anyone who manages a sales force should consider:
1. Your sales force must have clear strategic direction.
According to McDade, "Executive and C-level management owns responsibility for providing high level market, message and media strategic direction." If executives offer their teams generic direction, such as “our market is the Fortune 500” or “we sell enterprise solutions,” those executives may be part of the problem.
2. Markets should be tightly defined and manageable.
"Tight, vertical and geographically defined markets are always necessary," McDade writes. "If you do not have a handle on this, from a deployment and message perspective, you are wasting time and dollars."
3. Vague, strategy-level messaging does not work.
According to McDade, "If you cannot explain what you do with a simple story and/or analogy, you need to work harder on carefully crafting just what you need to say."
4. Long-term lead generation offers far greater returns.
"Close to 95 percent of most marketing investment is wasted due to marketing’s focus on short-term leads and failure to value and capture the long-term leads," writes McDade. He also points out qualified leads that do not offer an immediate sales opportunity can be overlooked, whereas marketers should capture their information and nurture that contact for future sales. "Gathering market intelligence and applying the learnings in the context of a thoughtfully planned nurturing program delivers significant return."
5. Inside sales must focus on selling.
McDade sees too many companies allow their inside sales teams to handle sundry administrative details, perhaps sapping as much as 35 percent of their man-hours. He says, "You can’t afford anything less than a dedicated group of trained professionals focused 100 percent on sales."