You Can’t Buy Customers… But You Can Buy Leads

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ID-10068830I’ve always found it interesting that the people that talk to us about our Autopilot Prospecting service have almost a subconscious calculation going on.

In other words, when they talk to us – and, I’m sure, when they talk to other lead-generating / prospecting companies – there is a calculus occurring in their minds that essentially says, “If I give this company X thousands of dollars, I’ll get back Y thousands of dollars in terms of profits and/or new clients.” Unfortunately, this statement is partially true.

The investment in lead-generating activities will, over time, produce customers; but you have to realize that there is no mathematical formula that says X dollars of investment will produce Y dollars of profit.

Rather, you should understand that generating new clients is a long-term commitment and activity. Lead-generation activity, regardless of the nature (SEO, PPC, cold-calling, webinars, you name it), will produce inquiries. Inquiries have to be qualified, nurtured, profiled and cultivated prior to their becoming sales-ready leads.

Sales teams are looking for sales-ready leads.

Tragically, many sales teams define a sales-ready lead as a preprinted P.O. ready to be picked up.

This expectation is a surefire method for building disappointment, acrimony and disagreement into the lives of the lead-generating service and the company that has hired the lead-generation service. It’s far more productive to understand that lead-generating activities will produce inquiries; that’s when the work begins.

Out of a number of inquiries, few (if any) are sales-ready at the date that the inquiry is created. If you expect a lead-generation service to produce a mathematically predictable number of sales-ready leads, you and that company have a problem.

You should be prepared to nurture those leads. So, before you hire any lead-generating company, make sure that you have the following components of success in place.

  • Web visitor ID software: All lead-generating activities, regardless of who conducts them, will, to one degree or another, increase traffic to your website. Remember, 87% of website visitors never – and I mean never – leave their name, phone number and/or email. Consequently, 87% of the dollars that you spend to generate that traffic will be wasted. If you have a web visitor identification tool attached to your website, you will dramatically lower the percent of investment and effort that is wasted.
  • Strict qualification criteria: The fact that someone says they are “interested” does not mean they are sales-ready. Make sure that your qualification rules and/or criteria are set up so that there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind regarding the sales-readiness and/or the efficacy of an individual inquiry.
  • Closed-loop / nurture system: The Aberdeen Research Group published a study a few years ago that indicated that companies that utilize closed-loop marketing realize a 36% increase in top-line revenue. If you’re engaged in a lead-generating activity and do not have the ability to nurture any and all inquiries until they become a sales-ready lead, you are letting money run down the drain.

So, before you start your next lead-generation campaign, make sure that you have anonymous website visitor ID (like caller ID for your cell phone) as well as a closed-loop marketing capability in place for your company.

Lastly, make sure that all leads, regardless of their quality, are accounted for. Studies show that as much as 90% of salespeople abandon all pursuit of new leads after four attempts. This is tragic.

So, when you consider all the money that you invest to generate leads and the very low return that you get, you can see why it’s important to have these three components of your lead-generation system in place.

Accountability and follow-through on all leads is mandatory, a website ID tool is mandatory, and a closed-loop marketing capability is mandatory. Take care of these three items, and you’ll have a tremendous sales future.

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