What's Your Company's Biggest Waste?
I guess if you knew the answer to this question, you probably wouldn't be reading this blog.
From my experience in Sales and Operations, as well as my experience as an Operations Consultant, I can answer this question with one single word.
But leads are the lifeblood of your business, surely!? The right ones are, for sure. But let me tell you what my experience has shown me.
Everyone has a different definition
There's the age-old dispute that Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are garbage in the eyes of the Sales Team, and the Sales Team being overly ambitious in what they need in the eyes of the Marketing Team.
Then, leads which are qualified by the Sales Team (SQLs) are so far down the funnel before they ever appear on a CRM system that you'd basically need to be drafting the legal docs before someone in Sales opens up Salesforce.
This very often results in piles of leads by the Marketing Team which Sales won't touch with a 6-foot barge pole. Which is a monumental waste of resource for what is basically some brand awareness.
The solution here is such a simple one, yet I rarely see any company do this well (please introduce me if you know of one!). The Sales team and the Marketing team sit in a room together (an actual room, not a Zoom room) and flesh out what a Qualified Lead actually needs to look like. If everyone is in agreement, the number of leads which come in should ultimately go down - which is scary for Mr Marketer - but should produce some warmer leads, which will please Miss Sales.
I've moderated many a discussion like this one, and let me tell you - they are always worth investing the time.
They land in different places
From business cards at a conference which end up in a drawer, to forms which get filled out on a website and get sent to an inbox that no-one monitors. Even leads which go directly into a CRM somehow end up in different queues or lists. Or they have a Close Date which is unrealistic and they end up being filtered out of reporting and sit in a black hole.
This means, no matter how much effort has been put into building out triage queues or slack alerts, there are simply too many places to check to make it even a little bit efficient.
Companies get fixated on this tsunami of leads which are inevitably going to come in (which never ever happens) so they try and filter and queue them before they get swamped. The result here is that you get a tiny trickle into half a dozen different places - none of which are rich enough in high quality leads for anyone to give the tiniest toss about.
The solution here is to worry about the "too many leads" problem when you actually get it. Send all the leads into one place, and set a starting KPI for a whole team (marketing, sales, whoever) to have reached out to every single one of them by the end of each week. Then, if you are getting too many, only then do you start to split them up or triage them (more on that later).
Nobody wants to call them
I can tell you now, I've never met a Sales person who laps up leads that are handed to them on a plate. Never.
There seems to be some kind of shame associated with making contact with a lead who isn't from your own little black book. Plus, reaching out to someone you've not spoken to before is hard.
Some of this stems from the leads not being effectively qualified beforehand, so calling them feels like throwing mud at a wall.
Sure, you can start emailing them, but we all get about 4 billion emails a day - how is yours going to stand out?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if you've got lots of warm-ish leads coming in and teams who are reluctant to make the first contact, you might want to consider bringing in the professions. By this, I mean an Outbound Calling Company. These companies can be targeted on making appointments for Sales Teams, or getting them to complete a survey, or so many other things. But, done well, they can be your first level of triage.
Imagine having a team of people making those 4-8 calls for every lead to squeeze as many warm ones out of the pile as they possibly can.
Letting them go cold
I see very often, the hottest of leads coming in, and they are left to stagnate in an inbox or CRM system. Reasons for this can be vast. They are going into dead-end queues; they want products you don't sell; or you simply don't have the bandwidth to contact every single one of them.
If it's the latter, and you have a conversion rate of less than 10%, you need some automation further up the chain. This is where triaging some out because they don't meet some basic criteria (wrong geographical location, incomplete contact info, etc) can be the most effective.
My step-one solution for this is to set some mandatory fields on sign-up forms on websites, and check where the leads go once they do come in. Make sure your pool of leads is a Pool of Joy, not some Bog of Despair.
Steps two, three and beyond will depend entirely on your business, what you sell, and to whom.
I love helping businesses with lead qualification and lead conversion. It almost always feels counterintuitive to end up with fewer leads than you started. However, when the quality increases, followed by your conversion rates, not only does your Cost To Acquire come down, but your scalability significantly improves.
Call me, or set up a meeting to discuss how I could help you.