Lead Problems vs. Lead Leaks

Increase success in generating and converting leads with better leads management
Madeleine MacRae
January 28, 2019
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, FABRICATION : SALES

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Many business owners and managers seek my help to create more sales leads. While lead generation, marketing messages and advertising can be tough nuts to crack, the problem may not always be lead generation. Before spending time, money and effort fixing a “leads problem,” an owner must make sure their team is making the very best use of the leads already in hand. 

To determine if a company has a leads problem or a leads leak, I recommend owners look into inbound leads management processes and sales conversion rates.

Inbound leads management

Many of the small businesses I’ve worked with have told me that they never let any leads go cold. I’m skeptical of that. According to InsideSales.com, a company well-known for its extensive research on lead conversion, the average lead is only contacted 1.7 to 2.1 times before it’s abandoned. The lead is not put into a nurture program, is not earmarked for re-targeting and is not called or emailed. 

Consider the time, effort and energy—both direct and indirect—that goes into creating a lead. Businesses work hard on branding, messaging, websites, reviews and social media, not to mention the resources that go into advertising and targeting. 

Reaching out once or twice to make contact to new leads is not only a waste of marketing energies and dollars, but also a huge opportunity cost. So, the first leads leak a company can plug is to have a set process to follow up with potential customers. 

I’ve seen businesses tackle their leads leaks a few different ways. Two examples: 

A client who thought she had a leads problem was ready to hire a sales person and amp up her ad budget to accommodate the increased need for leads. Instead, I suggested she hire a part-time admin whose only job was to carry a cell phone. The business line was routed to that phone and the employee answered it any time it rang, day or night, and booked appointments immediately. This strategy solved the leads problem as bookings doubled. 

Another client—a good-sized business with plenty of leads—had a receptionist whose job was to call back all its leads first thing in the morning. But the company lacked a systematic approach that ensured those leads would be tried at least six times. The company also hadn’t considered targeting their leads at times that would yield higher call-to-answer ratios. By implementing some structure around the time of day, frequency and modality (adding email and texts to follow up on calls), the company saw an increase of 7.5 percent in appointment bookings. 

Sales conversion rates

Sales conversion rates are, by far, one of the most popular and one of the least accurate statistics that companies use. From organizations with multiple salespeople to smaller owner-operator type businesses, many employees are flat-out guessing their sales conversion rate. They “get a feel” for the number and make an educated guess. My experience is that, on average, people guess about 10 to 20 percent higher than their actual close rate.

However, estimating sales conversions is an easy metric to track. Count the number of sales appointments each week and divide it by the number of closed sales. Then, multiply the result by 100 to yield the weekly percentage close rate. 

When owners know the exact close rate, they can focus on improving it. And, making improvements in close rates can make a huge impact on overall business. Think of it this way: if a company is closing at 30 percent and works to increase that rate to 50 percent, the company just made more money from the same number of leads it had in the first place. The fact is that those companies closing less than 30 percent of sales are throwing away seven out of 10 leads and wasting marketing dollars. 

Additionally, companies that accurately track close rates get better at reviewing sales that didn’t close, providing an opportunity to try and recapture that business. Paying more attention to the reasons for lost sales can provide insight on how to improve. 

To address leads leaks, owners should run their numbers, implement a proven sales process and make more money from the leads they already have on their desk. 

Madeleine MacRae is founder and owner of MM MacRae Coaching & Consulting. She can be reached at info@businessmentormadeleine.com.