“What’s your toughest sales challenge?” The sales leaders, CEOs and presidents we ask this question tell us right now it’s finding qualified leads. Here are the reasons they say it is so difficult.

  • Their reps don’t have / make time.
  • Their reps are not good at prospecting.
  • Prospects not interested in talking.
  • Lead lists and databases are inaccurate.
  • Poor marketing.

We find it is usually because no one in the company has created the lead development strategy or is ignoring critical new tools and best practices. No strategy. No plan. No leads.

Ensuring qualified lead flow is often low priority, and sometimes ignored completely, by sales leaders. (Or they assume marketing is handling it). Instead, the sales leader’s priorities in most companies are the high visibility often reactive roles they are asked to perform. Think of your business. Is your sales leader your top closer on big deals, first responder to difficult client situations, chief presenter at internal deal reviews and primary negotiator during finance’s revenue planning sessions? If yes, who is planning, managing and measuring the ‘above the funnel’ activities like lead generation?

The answer to this question is that most sales leaders expect their front line / outside sales teams are performing their own lead identification, qualification and cultivation. It is not uncommon for companies to assume sales reps should – and are – developing leads along with their other responsibilities for creating and managing opportunities, closing deals and negotiating contracts. It is a poor practice that fails for three reasons.

  1. Phone-based lead development and cultivation are unique skills, very different from developing face-to-face rapport with C-level prospects and managing big deals.
  2. For high quota reps, lead generation is the first activity to drop when large pursuits come along or complex negotiations are needed to close a deal.
  3. Increasingly, the companies which are deploying new practices, tools and technologies for lead generation are out-executing the old model and finding those prospects who are buying.

A significant evolution is occurring in respect to lead generation and is redefining both ownership and approach for this critical activity. Marketing driven solutions wrapped in 2.0 technology and smart labor models have become best practice. These solutions are highly impactful when well designed and smartly executed and far more measurable, effective and lower cost than old approaches.