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Since directly linking sales growth to some marketing program is unrealistic, measuring the ROI for these initiatives is often based on monitoring the number of newly generated leads, tracking these through qualification to proposal.

But what if the lead-to-proposal process is not being monitored? According to a recent report, 80% of qualified leads get wasted…they never get followed-up by the sales team.  

A qualified sales lead is a prospective customer whose need has been validated and is deemed ready for the next stage in the sales process. These leads have a shelf life. If they are not promptly followed-up, then the opportunity is lost to convert them into proposals and orders; the marketing investment is wasted. Why does this happen?

Lack of Sales Commitment – Busy sales people don’t often differentiate between qualified leads and raw leads. Chasing raw leads is time-consuming, frustrating and usually unproductive; it’s easy to become discouraged when nothing is yielded by following-up. Instead, investing precious time to call on existing customers, fix known problems and increase transactions is much more efficient than pursuing leads that might, someday, produce a new customer or two.

SOLUTION: Qualify raw leads before you assign them to the sales team. Use an inside sales person or team for this, or outsource it. If a salesperson is unable to follow-up on “qualified” leads, then that person’s selling competency should be assessed.

Lack of Process & Tools – Sales leads are dead within 90 days. Many sales teams have no process or tool to facilitate lead follow-up. Leads are often assigned to sales people with no direction regarding follow-up or goals.  Without feedback from the Sales team to the Marketing team that could refine the lead generation process, opportunities to identify new prospective customers are lost.  

SOLUTION: Invest in an affordable, user-friendly CRM tool and demand that sales people use it. If it isn’t simple to learn and easy to use, if it doesn’t save them time and help them succeed, then they won’t use it regardless of your direction. Build a database to identify new opportunities and to improve lead management from first contact to new orders.

Lack of Leadership – “Qualified” leads are assets that are wasted if not pursued. Many organizations fail to establish goals for securing new customers or to compensate accordingly. They don’t bother to evaluate the ROI on marketing initiatives – it’s just a budget line item. Generating leads requires investment; treat it like you would other investments.

SOLUTION: Establish new customer goals tied to sales compensation. Evaluate the ROI on your marketing investments based on qualified leads produced.

What percent of your leads are qualified? What percent of qualified leads is pursued by Sales?

How can your lead management process be improved?