Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedin

Web Lead DetectiveIs your sales team working your Web leads effectively?

Your reps probably tell you that they’re milking every lead for all it’s worth. And you have no reason to doubt them, right?

Perhaps you should take a closer look at what’s really going on. The truth might just make your head explode.

InsideSales.com recently did some research on lead response. We asked members of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals how fast they respond to Internet leads and how many times they contact each lead before they give up. Then, we performed tests to independently verify their performance.

Below are the results. Read ‘em and weep.

Web Lead Immediacy Results

Web Leads Persistency Results

As you can see, there is a big difference between perception and reality. Many sales managers think their reps are responding to leads a lot faster and being much more persistent than they actually are.

We asked a few sales industry insiders to react to these findings. You can find their responses below.

Anthony Iannarino, Author of The Sales Blog

Anthony IannarinoHave you seen this type of delusion among sales teams you’ve worked with?

The challenge we have here is that salespeople expect ready-to-buy leads. That’s a unicorn. It’s a mythological creature that doesn’t really exist. We take our prospective clients where we find them. If there is some interest, then you have to find a way to create value for them at whatever stage they are at in their buying process. This is the root cause of the delusion. And it’s why salespeople don’t do a good job following up on leads. Their expectations are out of line with reality.

What causes this discrepancy between perception and reality when it comes to Internet leads?

We want selling to be easy. We want a lead that comes to us to be further along in the process. Part of the perception problem belongs to marketing, too. They believe they’re supplying ready-to-buy leads and that salespeople should be grateful for the leads they provide. But if the lead was really ready-to-buy, you wouldn’t need a salesperson. You could take the order online, couldn’t you?

What can sales managers do to fix this?

Read Andy Paul’s book “Zero Time Selling.” You need to follow up on every lead. Immediately if not sooner. It makes a tremendous impact on sales results. But you have to be willing to engage and create value. Sales managers need to insist that leads are followed up, and they need to follow up to make sure it is being done.

If you were managing a sales team, what would you do with this information once you got it?

Counsel salespeople on the value of leads. Make sure that the leads are distributed based on some intelligent criteria. I’d also want to make sure the right leads are given to the salespeople best prepared to win them.

What specific steps or tactics would you use to improve sales team performance?

For my money, sales leadership is about coaching, training, and developing the sales force. It’s notching the sales force up one rep at a time.

Nancy Nardin, Author of Smart Selling Tools

Nancy NardinHave you seen this type of delusion among sales teams you’ve worked with?

Yes! It’s more common than not.

What causes this discrepancy between perception and reality when it comes to Internet leads?

Most companies don’t measure it. Nor do they have a system in place to ensure leads are followed up on quickly.

What can sales managers do to fix this?

I would make sure I knew what the current situation was. It does no good to assume what the response rate is – or to guess at any of the other key metrics you’ve mentioned. As your study points out, perceptions are mostly incorrect.

If you were managing a sales team, would you want to know the truth about how your reps were working your leads? Or is this a case where ignorance is bliss?

Companies spend a small fortune generating inbound leads. If reps don’t respond quickly (or at all) to the leads, then the company would be just as well off having lit that money on fire. Responding quickly is imperative partly because of the importance of “interest momentum.” Salespeople need to connect when prospects are at heightened interest and before competitors respond. In today’s world, the first one in the door wins most of the time.

If you were managing a sales team, what would you do with this information once you got it?

I’d figure out the root cause of the delay. Where is the process breaking down? What needs to happen in order to eliminate the barriers. I’d take a look at the mechanics of following up as well as the availability of resources salespeople need before they can make the call. And I’d take a look at what salespeople are doing instead of following up with new leads. Perhaps the problem resides there.

What specific steps or tactics would you use to improve sales team performance?

Again, I would first make sure we had a way to measure the key metrics.

How would you convince your sales reps that immediacy and persistency really are important?

Salespeople are “coin-operated.” They follow the money – which is what you want them to do. I’d educate them on why immediacy matters and how lack of immediacy impacts their revenue and their commissions. If they have concerns, for instance, about the quality of leads, then those should be addressed. Regardless, I’d have them pledge to hit certain response metrics for two weeks and judge the results for themselves.

Free eBook: 31 Inside Sales Must Haves

Gain access to 31 inside sales tips to help drive leads, appointments and sales.

Receive email updates from the Sales Insider

Photo credit: chrisbb