What makes a sales lead valuable?

A case for valuable sales leads

Sales folks are rarely enthusiastic about sales leads- which is surprising, or not- depending on how you look at it. There is obviously pressure to get to an opportunity before your competition. But, the worst thing for a sales guy is to have to chase dud leads. What are valuable sales leads?

Leads come in all shapes and from all sorts of sources. Most of them have little information other than a name and a number. Some have an email. And most of them result in nothing. Reasons are too numerous to go into, here.

Lead generation to qualification

Leads to deals to winMarketing generates the most leads for sales. And those are the leads that sales people are the most sceptical about. So, over time, most marketing leads tend to go through at least a level of “qualification”- typically a telecaller who would call the lead and gauge the seriousness or interest in purchase.

The filtering tends to be quite severe. I have seen as much as 80% leads fall by the wayside and only the 20% or less make their way to sales people to follow up. These bunch have a much better chance of closure.

The goals of the telecaller and the sales guys are – even if slightly, misaligned. The Telecaller is the “man in the middle”- he filters the marketing leads. They differ in their understanding of what valuable sales leads are.

Valuable sales leads

The telecaller – typically- is looking to get the lead to commit to a meeting or follow up call – from the sales person. He counts his success as a number of leads who have managed to say yes. This, needless to say is what the marketing guy wants too. More marketing leads result into a follow up call, better his metrics look.

Now, if poor quality leads make into the sales funnel, the sales metrics of conversion will look bad. Which is why I say, the goals of telesales and sales are often misaligned.

On balance, I still prefer the marketing to fund the tele-qualification function. There is of course scope in sales and marketing teams sitting down together and drawing up pre-agreed crieteria for deals qualification.

Okay, so what are valuable sales leads?

Having talked with hundreds of customers in scores of industries – my only answer is that it depends. It varies from industry to industry and even within the same industry, it varies from company to company. And, I am talking of companies who have actually invested the time to define the threshold of information and interest and how they measure both before passing it on to a sales guy.

Interest in the next step

Interest shown by the lead in being contacted it seems is a big factor. Also, the nature of interest matters too. Some would simply want more information to be mailed, while the others might want a visit from a sales person. I know at least one company where professed interest in meeting a sales person is ruthlessly scrutinized because the sales people are so senior and their time, expensive.

Where telecallers inevitably falter

Almost all companies have a script for the their telecallers. But I have seen most falter in sifting through the tyre-kickers and the door-keepers. Sales does not like information gatherers- though in some B2B enterprise sales processes, information sharing is mandatory as part of a long sales process. Sales also wants to talk to decision makers- and most leads tend to be from folks who are merely gathering data for their bosses. You do not want to be at the mercy of people who are not able to represent your case in from of decision makers- though sometimes you may not have a choice.

Action, level and logical fit

Sales love leads where there is clear action plan and it is obviously set up at an appropriate decision making level at the customer place. If the lead is from a customer or industry segment which is a logical fit- that obviously helps. If it is not, the telecaller should try and establish the need or the pain-point of the lead.

To summarize, valuable sales leads are where meeting is set up at a decision making level where a logical product fit can be established.

Lastly, when you work on a common platform for lead capture, qualification, conversion to deal and deal nurture and close, it definitely makes it easier for all. The lead qualification is a learning process- over a period of time and by capturing data of hundreds of leads qualified – your own criteria for evaluating leads will get better.

Everyone sells: make collaborative sales easy

How do your prospective customers contact you first?

  • At the board number, where a receptionist picks it up? Or, a dedicated sales number?
  • Do they send an email to a marketing mail box published on your website?
  • Do they ask the service technician or similar unrelated to sales personnel, for a sales assistance?
  • What about website “Contact us” forms? Visitors who left their visiting cards in your trade fair booth? Customers who came to attend a seminar?

The answer to the question really is, “Most if not all the above”.

In an ideal world, everyone in your company must sell- in the less than ideal world, in which we live, you need to make it easy for your sales-people to get leads and convert them.

Capture –> Assign –> Convert

It is a collaborative process. Sales needs help from other functions. Start by putting together a process of sales opportunity capturing by everyone. Saleswah CRM is a sales collaboration software; it helps precisely in this and tracking those leads down the funnel of every single individual sales person.

Prospects are not predictable. They may choose any of the above methods. How you deal with the incoming stream is going to determine how many turn from prospects to customers. Prospects do not just call you; they call your compeition as well. Who will get back faster; and with the right and most compelling response?

First things first, do you have a way to capture all the leads in all the touch points?

Is your receptionist able to log a sales lead directly into CRM? And, know that it will be instantly assigned to the right sales person and the sales person will receive the details on he mobile on SMS?

Think about it. Why wait till the competition salesman has already been to the prospect? Get Saleswah Basic now for everyone in your company who has anything to do with client interactions.

Sales leads tracking in Saleswah

What is a sales lead? Why is Sales leads tracking important

A sales lead is an indication and also information that a certain contact (or contacts) should be approached to pursue a sales opportunity.

What information you need typically for a contact to become a lead?
Well, even though there is no hard and fast rule, at the minimum, you need some contact information and the type of product she is interested in.

What does Saleswah count as a lead?
There are two ways of creating a lead in Saleswah CRM.
1. By automated lead scoring method:
Saleswah is constantly polling all the activities that are logged in the system and evaluating them for their potential to lead to a sale.
When acivities related to a contact or even a group of contacts working together in the same company jointly point to a possibility of a sale, Saleswah will automatically trigger a “lead”. A lead record will be created, it will be sent immediately as an email and a mobile alert to the sales executive who will then chase the prospect.
2. By manual lead creation:
A prospect calls your reception asking for product or price details; someone visited your exhibition in trade-fair and showed specific interest in a product, someone filled up a form on your website…
Saleswah allows your receptionist, your trade-fair exhibition booth hostess or your marketing team to log this interest in a product category exhibited by a contact as a lead. Two clicks, if the contact exists in the database; if not, ensure the contact is created in the database first.

Which one will you trust more?
It really depends. If you had superb quality of people, able to separate the wheat from the chaff, then you might trust manually flagged leads more than automatically created leads. But, they will still be inconsistent in quality. One person’s lead will be another person’s waste of time.

Automatically generated leads, have more credibility because they will be consistent.
Firstly, they will play by the same rules; the same definition of what constitutes a lead and what is the threshold of acitivites above which leads will need to be triggered. And, automated leads have more data-points, have a longer interaction history and many times with a bigger team than one.
Saleswah allows you to make a choice: automated lead creation, manual lead flagging or both!

Sales Leads assignment:

Leads created in Saleswah are automatically and without exception assigned to the Sales Executive to follow up. In case the lead is found to be worth pursuing, the executive pursues the lead and converts the lead into a sales deal.

Sales Leads tracking:

All sales leads are tracked as they progress in the funnel; through the stages of the deal, being “qualified” on the way to the “close”; with full visibility to the sales executive and his manager so that they can intervene as appropriate.

 

Are you using Excel to track your sales leads?

Please don’t. Using Excel to track sales leads, that is.

Don’t get us wrong. I am one of those who have been quoted as saying, “In God we trust, rest must be backed up by Excel”. Among all the MS software that we use and we do use quite a few, this software from Microsoft is simply unparalleled in use, power and yet simplicity.

So, why aren’t we using Excel to track sales leads through the funnel?

Excel is free, Saleswah is not. But, as we will see later, even that is not much of a factor. Here are a few things that Excel or Excel based lead trackers (see this, and this) just do not do.

1. Does not organize data in one place; or even link to data in multiple places.

You have a lead; that has a potential value, timeframe and associated contacts. You either will have an impossibly large and messed up spreadsheet or you will have to constantly refer to your email, PDA etc for information that proved difficult to capture in one place. If you know a excel based lead tracking software that does this well, let me know.

2. Welcome to data duplication. 

Most of the stuff you will enter into your spreadsheet will be from information that exists elsewhere. So, you will send a quote elsewhere and copy down the value on your spreadsheet. You will have email addresses on your Outlook, mobile numbers on your phonebook/ cellphone and everytime you need to follow up on a deal, you leave your excel based lead tracker and jump into another software.

3. No reporting capability:

Everytime you want a report, be prepared to spend time pivoting and massaging data. And, this is with basic “how much we will close this month?” kind of reports for single product, single market kind of companies. Excel templates for lead tracking just die when it comes to anything even a shade more complex.

4. No link, to anyone else or anything else

You have a team? Okay, then. Good luck with pulling all the data together and forecasting. Ever noticed how everyone has a different way of formatting data, inputting data or even abbreviations? And, even before we get to that, no sharing or collaboration on opportunities. No one knows what the other person in the team is doing. When a team member leaves, the data leaves too!

5. Does Excel send you email or mobile triggers?  

It does not; but Saleswah and Leadzgenie both do. Everytime you create a sales lead or assign a task to your executive, he gets an alert by SMS and also on email (what is task assignment, Excel will ask 😀 )

Enough said. Say goodbye to excel based lead management systems; get something much more professional and surprisingly, way more easy to use. Get your team on Saleswah.

Some discussion online, elsewhere.

Bridging the gap between Marketing and Sales

If you are relying on marketing to generate the buzz, the excitement and leads, Saleswah Basic puts the focus on bridging the gap between marketing and sales. Capturing leads and managing them through the sales cycle is what Saleswah does.

What is the cost of missing a lead?

Let’s do the math- a classified ad in TOI Delhi for property costs about Rs 5000/- and those in online portals costs anything between Rs 1200/- to Rs 2500/-. A property dealer in hot markets like the Delhi NCR, Pune, Bangalore etc would easily spend Rs 50,000/- a month advertising. And these are dealers that have 2-3 sales guys and perhaps do 1-4 “sales” transactions and “2-5” “lease” transactions. In order to do this level of work, he has to make sure he gets at least 400 “leads”- folks who call him up and inquire about the properties he has a mandate for and he has advertised.

The trouble about advertising is not that 90% of it is useless spending; we know that. The trouble is, we do not know which 90%!

How do you get the leads anyway?

Do your customers call you/ email you/ sms you? How many walk in through your front door? And, surely, no one, no one these days ever writes in? Do they leave their details on your website?

What is your process of capturing a lead?

Once you get an sms, or a phone call or a email or queries forwarded from the website/ newspaper where you may have placed a classified, the fastest you can note it down and send it to your sales team to follow up, the better your chances of closing business.

What in reality happens is that you note down the call details or the number sent on email and send it to the sales guy in your team. “Most of the time”. And, your sales guys will follow through and make the connect- “most of the time”. And you will remember the leads you passed on to them in the morning by the time evening comes and you can review the day with your team- “some of the time”.

Do you want to guess what happens to the leads that get missed out on? They go to competition “all the time”!

  • Do you know what proportion of your leads get addressed, which ones were followed up and which ones you closed?
  • Do you know where you got most of your enquiries from?
  • Do you know enquiries from which source are normally more productive?

Presenting Saleswah Basic:

Log and assign all leads, as they come: Saleswah Basic helps you quickly and efficiently log all incoming calls. Note down name, contact details – phone, mobile, email- as much or as little as is available or useful and click a button to send the details to your sales guy on sms. The incoming call logging can be done by anyone with an access to the system; your receptionist, your secretary, you, your marketing team member, the salesman himself..

Update lead status and track through stages, online: The fact that you have done this is remembered by the software; and when your team updates the status of the follow up, you get to see it too; online! The status of the lead, as it goes through stages can be seen by the The Sales cycle and funnel mapped to lead nurturingsalesman and his superiors.

Assign and schedule tasks/ activities: You can use Saleswah Basic for scheduling meetings, assigning work to your team – go pick up the cheque, schedule a site visit, draw up the agreement- whatever. And, track the status of the tasks as well.

Who is Saleswah Basic for?

Saleswah Basic works for sales teams, small and big – who depend on getting sales leads from new customers to make their target.

If your organization has an ongoing marketing programme for lead generation: you advertise in websites and newspapers, you participate in roadshows (in malls and in group housing societies etc), you participate in trade-fairs: then you should get Saleswah Basic for everyone of your sales team.

If you are selling credit cards, SIM cards, insurance policies, pest control services, dealing in properties, have a large number of repairmen out repairing white goods, trying to attract and enrol students to your institute of higher learning; Saleswah Basic will work for you.

Free to try, for a month!

CRM at Hanover Fair or at Pragati Maidan

Why participate in trade-fairs, if you have no follow up plan?

Have you ever participated in one of the large trade fairs? I mean, actually stand behind the counter? Man the booth?

What’s your takeaway from the fair? More awareness for your brand and/ or products? Hopefully. Some good partnerships signed up? Perhaps. A few large orders? Maybe. But, if you are in a competitive market and new customers are your lifeblood, then quickly having your visitors turned over to your sales people to follow up is important.

In a nutshell, that is what Saleswah Basic  does.

Think about it. Your prospect came to your booth, spent time looking at your exhibits and then,  either filled out a form or dropped his card in the fishbowl. If you wish to make an impact, sell to him when the visit is still fresh in his mind; not a week later, when the sales team gets handed out these “leads”.

How about following up the same day? How about calling his mobile as he is leaving the fair-ground, seeking an appointment to meet?

You sell automotive car seat covers? And you have tens/ hundreds of dealers? What if you could directly send the sales lead to the dealer best placed to serve him? What if, you did it right in front of the customer and told him, “the Monday after, when you go back to Cochin, please land up at this store where I have already made an appointment for you. And, someone will call you to confirm”. And, someone actually does?

Whether your customer is best served in Cochin or Cologne, Begusarai or Budapest, a delay in passing on the lead to your sales team is not going to help anyone.

Except perhaps the competition. Get Saleswah! Try for a month, absolutely free.

A small business CRM for hunters

What is a CRM for hunters?

What do you think a CRM should be good at doing?

A CRM software supports the work the sales and marketing team does to increase business. Depending on the emphasis of its creators, a CRM software may be better at handling different parts of the sales cycle. A CRM might be brilliant at Contact Management (or even “Social Listening”), or it might be great at managing the sales process from the time a sales person sees a lead to the time he “closes”. Some CRM softwares manage your activities (invoices, quotations, mailers), some do a great job of integrating with telephony or calendaring.

These are all features. But, at the heart of it all is the intent- the strategy. What is it that you want the CRM to do? That really depends. It depends on fundamentally what the nature of your business is.

Do you need a CRM for hunters or farmers?

Do you get business mostly from new customers or from existing customers? Or, even, do you have different teams to focus on different segments- a team which scouts for new customers (the “hunters”), which depends on a constant stream of “inquiries/ leads” to chase and the other team (the “farmers”) focusing on deepening relationships with existing customers  and repeat sales.
If it is the former (more new customers, lots of leads and enquiries) go for a CRM for hunters; if it is the latter, for a CRM for farmers.

Traditionally a CRM has always been a relationship management tool; adept at managing existing relationships and mining them for more business. So, “farmers” made use of a CRM- the saw value in the past data, logged interactions and purchase history- because it helped them cross-sell, up-sell and so on. The hunters, stayed focused on the their phone and email software. So, what does a CRM for hunters bring to the table? To understand that, consider:

It left two lingering problems

1. In the real world, the hunters and farmers co-exist- often part of the same company, if not the same team or even reporting to the same boss. The customers the hunters acquire need to move to the farmers for nurturing at some stage. If the hunters left no trace of their interactions; assuming they even captured basic contact information- the farmers would be starting from scratch.
2. If the hunters were really big game hunters, relying on couple of deals, their CRM needs will likely be far too complex. But, what if their income really comes from a stream of inquires? What if their sales model is “transactional”- many misses for a hit? What if the numbers of incoming calls is large and leads need to be “qualified” before passing on to the direct sales team? CRM systems traditionally do not help hunters much. Nor do they accommodate roles like telecallers etc.
3. Hunters rarely hunt alone; hunting in a pack fetches more success. In a company, many others including receptionsists, telecallers, sales department secretaries need access to CRM- to capture customers voice, leads and enquiries. A CRM for hunters helps them.

Why use Saleswah Basic

Saleswah Basic is a CRM for hunters. The folks who take a lead, run it though the process and close it. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to use. For creating a contact record, for logging an inquiry and immediately passing it to the person who can make best use of the lead- the salesperson. We built it so that everyone in the company can get access to the CRM- anyone in a role requiring customer interactions.

How does Saleswah Basic work?

Saleswah Basic logs the milestones- the “where is the opportunity now?” or “when will we close this deal?” and it does expect you to log them. But, other than that, it is surprisingly lightweight. It does the basics really well- passes on the inquiries on SMS to the right sales person and updates dashboards and reports automatically which gives a picture of the sales funnel- for the executive as well as the manager.

Dare we say, finally we have a CRM for hunters? Not big game hunters, mind you- but if you are shooting ducks or pigeons and want to keep a track of the hits and misses, give Saleswah Basic a try!

Fifteen days usage absolutely free to try for all users.

 

Never let go a sales for want of follow up

We all want leads, but it is important to track them through the sales process

Saleswah keeps the focus relentlessly on sales; the process including keeping track of the sales cycle and progress of the opportunity through it is important. As important as the activities that the sales team performs- send literature, meet and present, demo, collect cheque.

For small businesses, spending money getting noticed by customers and generating “enquiries/ leads”, it is important to ensure that

1. All enquiries immediately land up with the right sales person.

2. The sales person is able to log the stage and size of the opportunity, his chances of converting it into a purchase order and the customer influencers.

3. Furthermore, he should be able to log what the next action should be and schedule a task for himself in the calendar.

His boss knows it too!

Saleswah’s team management ensures that the salesperson’s manager always stays updated about

– the state of the sales funnel and the monthly forecast.

– the individual opportunities: their stage, status and chances and the actions- taken and pending.

How does Saleswah help convert your leads?

Saleswah is a hosted total sales lifecycle management tool. It allows you and your team to track a sales opportunity from start to finish, through all stages of qualification to close.

Who would use Saleswah?

Saleswah is useful for all businesses, big or small – with one salesman or one hundred- who want to track the sales leads that they receive and take appropriate action to close them. This can be property dealers, insurance agents, office equipment vendors, trade-show exhibitors, companies running seminars, those who primarily get their leads from vertical portals etc.

Want to know more? Call us.