Our research shows that many sales organizations truly manage only 40% of their sales costs. We hear sales executives still describe their sales process starting when sales people follow up on qualified sales leads. Very few include lead discovery as part of their sales process. The most common explanations we heard were “we follow up on Marketing Qualified Leads and our leads are generated by our inside sales”. True, starting with a qualified leads is a critical part of every sales process but this represents less than 40% of the sales cost.

Sadly what frequently is not stated is the cost that every sales organization spends on discovering and qualifying sales leads. Every sales organization has to spend the necessary effort to discover and qualify new sales leads. This is what goes into every sales pipeline.

Discovering and qualifying sales leads consumes over 60 % of sales effort. Finding the right contact, getting a live conversation and converting that contact to qualified prospect has never been more difficult than today and this task is getting increasingly more difficult every day.

In our research all sales executives confirm that this stage of the sales process is the invisible time consumer for all sales organizations. Every single person we spoke with confirms that finding and qualifying new leads is extremely difficult today and new approaches are needed. Many are experimenting new approaches that may include; digital marketing, social media, content marketing, SEO, and blogging to name a few. They also admit that these experiments are extremely difficult to correlate directly to improvements in sales lead discovery. And yet they continue to experiment because everyone else is doing it so it must be the only right thing to.

Every business sells something. If you are a bank, you will prospect for new accounts, new loans to sell and/or investments. If you are Service Company, you will sell your products and services. You will be looking for new leads to sell to. It’s a given fact that every business needs new sales leads and that no business can grow without them. Finding new sales leads involves more than just new experiments. The process still involves many front line sales people doing the hard work of contacting new prospects and answering inbound inquiries.

Today a sales prospecting by front line sales people still includes; insight sales, 3d party call centers, tellers, financial advisors, client support and individual sales people doing the hard work. Front line sales people engage potential prospect daily; they have conversations with them, convert some and lose some. These daily interactions generate critical sales information about why they won or lost potential prospect at this critical early stage. They know which sales pitches or delivery methods were effective in starting a conversations and which were not. They know which counter arguments worked and in which situations and which arguments did not and when. This knowledge is every sales organizations critical Soft Data. This is where mistakes are repeated and repeatable best practices are missed. This effort costs every sales organization over 60 % of their sales cost.

If your sales organization manages sales effort starting with qualified leads, you are only managing 40% of your sales cost. Sales data that starts with a qualified lead is your hard data. In sales, hard data are the qualified leads that are being nurtured by sales people. The critical sales Soft Data still remains mostly stored in the heads of the front line sales people and is lost over time.

Our research shows that many sales organizations do make an effort to tap into their soft data. Many hold weekly team huddles, group and one-on-one discussions to learn more about their lead prospecting successes and failures. These methods do reveal snapshots of the moments. What they don’t reveal are the critical changing trends that are never constant.  Would sales organizations not want to know and measure if their company marketing campaigns helped increase new lead prospecting? Would they not want to know how and when competitor’s offers are impacting new lead discovery and take early actions to effectively counter them?

If you are like most sales organization and you are spending over 60% of your sales cost on lead prospecting, you need to understand your sales Soft Data not just on a snapshot basis but you need to monitor it as frequently as you are prospecting.

In our next articles, we will share insights on how sales organizations can tap into their critical sales Soft Data and trend it for maximum benefits.

Posted by Jerry Witkowicz on 31 October 2017
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