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How to Increase the Quality of Your Sales Leads

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There are certain movies and shows that you have to watch if you want to be able to contribute to the water cooler talk on Monday morning or discuss the latest happenings on the show with a client. If you are in advertising, Mad Men was a must-watch for several years. For computer programmers, it might be Halt and Catch Fire. If you are in the business of sales or lead generation, Glengarry Glen Ross is that movie. If you are a sales manager or salesperson and haven’t seen it, you need to spend some time next weekend and catch up on this classic movie.

When I recently re-watched Glengarry Glen Ross, it made me think about how frequently the salespeople in the movie complained about the quality of the leads and made such a differentiation between the “good leads” and the “bad leads." If you are in sales or sales management, at some point in your career you have probably made a similar statement about the quality of leads being provided to you or your sales team. Soon after making a judgment on the quality of the leads, most sales managers start to focus on how to improve the quality of leads for their sales team.

Top 5 Reasons Salespeople Call a Lead a "Bad Lead"

When you think about the number of reasons why a lead might be considered "bad," there are 5 specific reasons that come to mind:

  • Not in the right geographic area
  • Not qualified (no budget) or ready to buy
  • Not actionable (no phone number or bad email)
  • Unresponsive to emails and phone calls
  • Not looking to buy (doing research)

How to Improve the Quality of The Leads You Give to Sales

When looking to improve the quality of a company’s leads, one of the first things you need to take into consideration is the lead capture process. Are leads being captured when they're doing research for the buying process, or are you using a more outbound approach, such as collecting email addresses at a tradeshow or obtaining business cards at a networking session? Typically content marketing produces higher quality leads than other sources because the leads are coming to you and seeking out your product or service.

Regardless of the method of lead generation, here are a few ideas to make these leads better.

Not in the Right Geographic Area

Generating leads that aren't in the geographic area you're targeting sometimes happens with online lead generation — visitors from out of the country or outside your target geographic area fill out a form to access an eBook or newsletter and then the leads get passed directly to sales.

Leads that are not in the correct geographical region can be easily identified by using a field in your lead generation forms that asks for the lead's state or region. When a state or region is provided that you don’t sell to, there is no reason to pass this lead onto sales. You don’t want to bother sales with leads that they can’t follow up on and close. 

Not Qualified (No Budget) or Not Ready to Buy

While these leads are not ready to buy and thus might be disqualified by your sales team, there is nothing that says you can’t continue to market to them and put them in your “nurturing funnel” to continue to educate them and provide them with information. They may be ready to be passed along to sales in a few weeks or a few months. So while these leads might not be quality leads today, they could become customers down the road if you don’t put them in the "bad lead" pile.

Not Actionable (No Phone Number or Bad Email)

For leads that come in without a phone number or a legitimate email address, there are a few things that you can do to turn this bad lead into a hot lead. The first thing you can do is research. Using a basic search on Google or LinkedIn can sometimes provide email addresses or phone numbers. You might have to actually make a few calls to the office they work out of to get their direct phone number or look for the structure of their company’s email addresses to figure out their email address, but it’s possible with a little work. Doing a little homework can turn a bad lead into a good one. It’s important to have a process for researching these leads and determine who will be responsible to research these leads.

Unresponsive to Emails and Phone Calls

If you have a lead that doesn’t respond to your phone calls or emails, you might want to put him or her into an automated email workflow that provides some additional information / education. With most automated workflows, you can create if / then statements that allow you to send a different email to someone that opens an email vs. someone that doesn’t open an email. Changing the subject line to make it more provacative can sometimes get your email opened.

Not Looking to Buy (Doing Research)

When a lead comes in and you can tell that he or she is just researching your company, that’s not all bad. If it’s a competitor, you will at least know that you are on their radar and they are trying to get a peek at what you have going on. Of course you can’t turn a competitor or a college student doing a research paper into a buyer, but you can identify who they are through their company domain (like john@mycompetitorscompanyname.com) and not pass that lead onto Sales.  

Don’t Give Sales Bad Leads

Remember, one of the primary goals with lead generation is to not just provide a high quantity of leads to Sales but to also provide a high quality of leads to Sales. So don’t be worried about spending some time and doing some research before passing a lead to Sales. They will appreciate you not filling their days with following up on leads that aren’t qualified or who are not ready or able to buy, and can instead focus on the high quality leads and closing new deals.

One of my favorite lead generation sayings is “Garbage in, Garbage Out." So make sure you are feeding your sales team high quality leads and not passing along the leads that will just frustrate your sales team when they find out they are not qualified in the first place. Keep your sales team happy and only pass along the Glengarry Glen Ross leads.  

Lead Generation Lessons

Topics: lead nurturing, Sales