Straightening Out Lead-handling

Sales and marketing are joined at the hip. Think of marketing as the big umbrella under which sales, advertising and public relations all fall. Advertising and public relations can be organized and managed. It’s salespeople who typically are the wild cards in the marketing mix.

Salespeople are by nature extroverted and inclined to be persuasive and persistent in order to close the deal. Yet, some of my clients have spent tens of thousands of dollars on fancy Customer Relations Management (CRM) systems, only to have their salespeople enter inferior prospect data – or none at all. Sloppy data-collection is a waste of very expensive technology.

Here are some steps for managing leads:

  • Educate your sales staff on the importance of accurate data-collection.
  • Add website resources that will require prospect data to be entered as a condition of receiving free white papers or other useful information.
  • Pre-qualify your current client and prospect lists every six months to ensure accuracy.
  • Prioritize leads as Hot, Warm or Cold, and educate your sales force about the criteria that determine these descriptors.
  • Collect business cards to ensure the accuracy of all prospect information, including email address and title.
  • Assign an administrative person to download mail lists into Excel in order to discover missing data and fill in the blanks.
  • Purchase new lists annually for your target SICs and have a mailing house run a “de-dupe” on the list to find duplicate entries. Once this is complete, pre-qualify the new list to ascertain decision-makers.

Data is a moving target, so it’s incredibly difficult – but critical – to keep prospect information complete and current. Only then can you market to your Hot, Warm and Cold prospects with unique messaging designed to appeal to each market.

Help your sales force understand that accurate data and efficient handling of leads will make a positive difference in your marketing program. And that will make a positive difference in everyone’s bottom line.

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