At some point, every sales manager on the planet has heard a sales rep gripe about how and when they’re getting their leads.
“Who’s deciding this?”
“Why aren’t I getting more leads?”
“Why aren’t I getting more leads from industry X / hot leads / leads for large accounts?”
Most companies struggle to find and keep a consistent stream of good, warm leads, and handing out a fresh, qualified lead can almost feel like an event in and of itself—but that doesn’t mean a rep asking these questions is out of line.
However the decision is made, the fact is that lead distribution is a selection process. Somewhere along the way, someone is making a decision about how leads are being handed out. Even if the decision is totally random / ad hoc, that’s still a decision.
In our experience, there are typically seven ways leads get distributed:
- Vertical market
- Potential account size
- “Fairness” (equal numbers to all)
- Speed (who is available to respond quickly)
- Skill (agent has the skills to respond well, good product knowledge, industry background, large account experience, language, etc.)
- Discretionary (Management / the Sales Manager decides who gets the leads).
Depending on your organization, any of these can be appropriate—but our research shows that if you want to maximize the value of your leads, not all of these options produce the same results.
Our Northwestern / Kellogg School of Management research showed that for best results on qualifying a new lead as a prospect:
- Speed and Skill increases qualifications.
- Fairness, Size, Vertical, or Discretion are neutral.
- Pure geography decreases qualifications.
For highest impact on deal close rates:
- Speed, Skill, and Size increases close rates.
- Nothing else has any impact on bottom-line close rates.
Notice the common denominators in both: Speed and Skill.
If you haven’t thought about it recently, take 20 minutes in your next sales meeting, and discuss how you might speed up the lead management process, and get the right leads to the most qualified reps. You’ll probably see an immediate impact on your bottom line sales results.
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