Sales managers know there are never enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done.
The fact that it takes a variety of skills and competencies to succeed is the very thing that makes sales so rewarding. But if you’re having a bad week - you’d tell me that’s what makes sales so challenging too.
While all good sales managers thrive on the excitement and pressure of the role, even the very best can sometimes find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer avalanche of tasks and responsibilities.
Juggling multiple leads at different stages of the pipeline can melt your brain. You can’t afford to waste time on activities that don’t help you close. But you also can’t afford to miss out on hot leads because you’re managing too many tasks and responsibilities.
Process and prioritization will help you scale your sales management.
We want to give you the strategic advice you need to build a foundation for scalable sales growth.
Specifically, you need to find a repeatable way to find and focus on the hottest leads fast. We’ll help you stop those hot leads getting lost in the mess of that avalanche of tasks you’re wading through each and every week.
A Lead Qualification Process Will Help You Find and Focus on the Hot Leads
Lead qualification comes in many different forms. For some enterprise companies, lead qualification programs might need a PHD to understand.
For entrepreneurs in the first months after launching a startup - lead qualification might be a pencil and paper checklist that changes every day.
If you want to scale your business effectively - you need a repeatable lead qualification process to help you find those hot leads regardless of how busy your job may be.
You need to face up to the reality of life in a fast-paced business. You’ll always be busy. But you can’t accept the possibility that a red hot lead might drop out of your pipeline because you missed the opportunity.
Maximizing the Leads at the Top of Your Funnel Isn’t a Scalable Sales Strategy
It is unsettling to discover that many companies have no real system for scoring or managing leads.
The “if we push enough leads into our pipeline, some of them are bound to convert” approach is not the solution to drive consistent revenue growth.
This spray and pray tactic is a massive waste of time and effort.
Worse still, you risk your hot leads going cold while your team works frantically to try and service this huge deluge of new leads. You spread your sales time so thin between these prospects that none of your leads are treated to a quality experience.
You’ll spread your sales resources too thin in an attempt to capture everyone.
The result is business-crippling, boss-angering and soul-crushing:
Your hottest prospects become lost faces in a massive crowd of generic leads. They drift quietly away from your brand... often to a competitor.
Failure to follow up with hot leads at the right time is one of the most common reasons why salespeople lose deals.
But there is a solution.
Instead of focusing on collecting a huge number of leads, you must set up a system that allows you to separate poor leads from good ones early on - automatically, if possible.
Once you feel confident your process is consistently allowing you to find the hottest leads fast, you can add a step to the process that forces your team to regularly find and drop the worst leads.
That’s how you scale your sales operations.
You accept that every salesperson will always be busy. But you make sure every salesperson can prioritize the time they do have to focus on nurturing the best leads.
Anxiety levels will plummet as you and your team boost close rates and miss out on fewer sales.
Maybe one day you might even be able to go back to working an eight-hour day...
Are You Ready to Let Go of Leads to Make More Sales?
You’ve probably worked very hard to get all those leads into your pipeline. Hence the tendency to stubbornly cling to every single one of them.
Don’t let anyone tell you there’s no such thing as a bad lead.
If you want to scale your business and work less than 24 hours a day - you need to detect and discard the bad leads from your sales pipeline.
If your pipeline is filled with low quality leads you may be in a worse position than if you had no leads at all.
Time spent pursuing low quality prospects is time spent away from following up with hot leads.
You need to be brutally honest and start clearing out your pipeline immediately. Next, spend time identifying what makes these leads useless. The idea is to come up with a checklist that will help you identify cold leads quickly and accurately.
- How many sales calls or emails without response does it take for you to feel that a lead is dead?
- How many objections can you endure before it’s worth your while to move on?
- What is the minimum budget a decent prospect needs for you to continue a conversation?
- What are the characteristics of the customers you have closed that you must leave off your lead cleansing checklist?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking they haven’t explicitly said ‘no’ so it may be worth trying again. Set a limit and stick to it ruthlessly.
Your sales team probably has a very good idea of what a dead lead looks like, and hates following up on them. Ask them to help you identify when to cut your losses and move on.
The more time they can spend chasing quality leads the less of these they’ll miss.
Slow and Steady Doesn’t Win This Race
Our old friend Aesop wasn’t a closer.
You can’t afford a tortoise in your sales team.
It is a truly blessed (and possibly mythical) business that has a great product with eager customers and no competition.
The rest of us living in reality are down in the trenches fighting a relentless battle against one or several tribes of competing companies and sales teams.
You gotta be the hare.
If you’re in first, you have a better chance of winning.
If you can contact prospects before your competitors, you’ll be dealing with much hotter leads and a higher percentage of them will close.
We dedicated an entire article to helping you learn how to find and focus on the right prospects. You need to develop a structured process that allows you to make that first conversation with a prospect before anyone else.
Make Sure You Develop a Killer Lead-Scoring Process
One of the most pervasive and damaging sales myths sounds a little something like this:
There’s no such thing as a bad lead, only a bad salesperson.
This is the mantra of the lazy sales manager.
Developing a lead scoring process is hard. This project demands significant strategic and analytical work.
So why not simply insist that all leads are created equal and be done with it?
Without a lead scoring system, you’re handicapping your sales team and you’re delivering a poor experience to your prospective customers. Besides, once you’ve put in the time to understand what your ideal customer looks like, you’re more than halfway there.
If you’re unsure of how to set up a system to score leads, I want to direct you to the simple guide we developed to help you with this very quandry: 7 Steps to Help You Focus on the Right Prospects
What Does Your Ideal Customer Look Like?
This is a deceptively tough question, and the answer definitely isn’t ‘anyone who’ll buy our product’.
We spoke to Paul Wander, co-founder of The Inviqa Group about their lead qualification process. The case study is a fascinating read and a helpful, detailed example of a rigorous, fact-based lead scoring system that you can use to inspire your own process.
Even though it may seem like overkill at first, Paul’s lead scoring mentality is sound:
“We’re trying to take away all of the soft crazy discussions that you have with salespeople. To be rigorous and disciplined about what makes an opportunity get to each stage is really important."
And why is it important? Because it then becomes scalable.
"If all the salespeople are following the same definition, you can trust the pipeline.”
You’re probably screaming this question in the back of your mind right now:
“That’s all well and good. I know what a good lead looks like, but how do I separate the good from the bad? I have so many leads and more of them are coming in all the time!”
Time to share some practical ways to help you make sure you’re working with the very best information while you’re building out your customer profile. This makes repeatable lead qualification faster and more accurate.
1.) Be smart about data gathering
If you’re not using it already, check out our Smart Contact Data feature. It’s your ultimate, all-in-one prospect research tool.
Designed to scour the web and collect information on your leads, this tool saves you plenty of hours that would have otherwise been spent on doing the research manually.
2.) Lay the foundations early
When using digital marketing to generate leads, automatically getting that data into your CRM is best way to make sure no data is lost in transition.
Pipedrive’s Web Forms in combination with the Smart Contact Data feature will allow you to make your forms much shorter and easier to complete. You can rely on Smart Contact Data to gather a load of supplementary info which means you can focus your forms fields on the most crucial information to help you qualify leads early.
Without the background contextual info from Smart Contact Data, you’ll find yourself needing a 10+ field form.
Less form fields = less friction = more submissions from the right leads.
3.) Customize to optimize
Let’s say the difference between a hot lead and a lukewarm one is company size.
You’ve found that people who have a staff quota over 20 but lower than 40 convert at a greater rate than those falling on either side of these parameters.
Obviously, it would be great if you had a way to filter for these prospects quickly and easily, and luckily there’s an easy way to do that in Pipedrive.
Partner this couple with the Web Forms and Smart Contact Data combo and you’ve got yourself a double date of lead qualification superpowers.
4.) Use Zapier to trigger lead scoring actions
Automation can also help grant data enrichment super-powers. Lead Score by Zapier, for instance, lets you run every new prospect you get through workflows that scour the internet for publicly available info, building up a profile for each lead and scoring it.
This data can build a database that you can further sift through for connections to existing customers, or matches throughout other products, or you can feed it straight into your CRM after being filtered as needed.
And even when a lead is already in your system, Zapier can make sure to keep them updated with all new information that happens elsewhere, so new orders, transactions, or other information updates can keep you in the loop and ready to capture every new opportunity.
Just find the tools you use, and set up workflows in minutes.
Crunch the Numbers
You may be in a situation where all leads are created equal (at least initially) and that certain triggers during the sales cycle move a lead from neutral to hot or cold.
If this is the case, you’ll want to know what these triggers are and exactly when they occur for each lead.
Luckily you have an array of Sales Tracking Tools at your disposal. Get to grips with the statistics and data behind your sales to refine lead qualification, and make sure you spot hot leads quickly and efficiently.
Turning these insights into more actionable results will help you prevent hot leads from slipping through the cracks.
Nothing Beats the Best Customer Experience
Of course nothing spoils a great lead quicker than sloppy service.
Missed calls, late meetings, or non-delivery on promises will cripple your chances of closing a deal.
Fast scaling revenue demands a market-leading customer experience.
And to consistently deliver a best-in-class lead nurturing experience, you should use an activity-based sales approach.
You cannot control the outcome of your sales process, but you can control (and scale) the activities or outputs your team should deliver at any given stage of the buyer journey.
There’s simply no better way to make sure you can deliver right customer touches at the right points than following an activity-driven sales model.
This concept demands more attention from you than a paragraph in this blog article.
We’re so passionate about helping you base your sales process on activity-based selling that we developed an 11-part Sales Pipeline Academy email training course to help you and your reps take your sales operations to a new level.
Enroll now for free and you’ll receive a series of emails that walk you through the step-by-step process you need to scale your sales program by pinpointing the right activities to deliver at each stage of the buyer journey.
In the meantime, start developing that structured lead qualification process!