Why more leads is not always the answer.

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What happens in your business if you flip a switch and have 15 more leads coming in every month?

Are you going to capitalize on new leads?

Every business owner, entrepreneur, and salesperson I talk to is always looking for more leads, but most would never see a difference in sales if they added 15 or even 30 more leads per month.

They are not ready to handle that many leads. Their pipeline would look great, but they wouldn’t have the bandwidth to handle everything that they are currently doing and handle the influx of the new leads.

For now, let’s pretend that we start a business together and implement a five count sales process that every lead has to go through:

  • Phone call to set appointment (4 to 6 attempts to reach the lead before giving up)
  • Discovery meeting to qualify each other for a good mutual fit
  • Proposal generation
  • Present proposal and get a yes
  • Onboard them into your product or service

The time necessary to run a process like this will vary wildly from company to company, great companies are somewhere in the 4-5 hour range, but many are in the 15-20 hour range. For the sake of this experiment, let’s say it takes 10 hours to run a lead through the process.

If we flip the switch and generate 15 new leads each month in addition to the leads you already have coming in, where are you going to find 150 hours to handle these leads?  

The average person works 160 hours per month.

The easy answer and one that everyone jumps to is to hire more people.  

Not a bad answer, but we are already working more hours than we should be. When are we going to find time to source, hire, and train the new people?

This isn’t an article telling you to hire more people. This is an article telling you to organize how you sell. Stop winging it.

Have a funnel and a process for sales

Scaling sales is just as much about process as it is about the number of people, but the process part of it isn’t sexy, so it doesn’t get discussed as much.

At Adapted Growth, we offer lead generation services for B2B companies. Originally we offered it as a stand alone service to anyone who wanted it. What we found is that most of the time, a lot of new leads doesn’t equal a lot of new revenue for the company. Most of the prospects have a negative sales experience, and the owner is then irritated about the quality of the leads.

After a couple of conversations with those clients, we decided that we wouldn’t take on anyone who doesn’t have some basic time saving sales steps in place or a solid documented sales process and good CRM habits.

The issue is twofold: a problem in communicating expectations and a bandwidth problem.

Expectations:

I talk a lot about setting expectations. In my opinion, clearly communicating expectations is the jedi mind trick in sales and customer service.

There is a fundamental miscommunication about what leads are and what lead generation actually is.

Most people expect every lead to come in completely qualified, ready to say “yes,” and pay. These kinds of leads are very expensive for a good reason, the hard work is already done for you.

Most companies who sell lead generation will put people through a couple of system forms, but the more in depth the forms, the less you can expect to receive each month.

So you have a trade off: do you want volume or do you want quality?

In most cases, you still have to be able to qualify them to make sure they have pains you can actually solve, their expectations align with yours, and that the budget lines up. If you expect all of this to be handled for you, I know people who make this happen. I would be happy to make an introduction. But 90% of people won’t be willing to pay what it costs.

Bandwidth:

Time is a finite resource, there is no getting it back.  If you want to be super successful in sales and business, you have to manage your time. This will sound counterintuitive, but the key to managing your time is to spend a lot of time on the front end to create systems and processes that will save you time in the long run.

Kind of like money. You have to spend it to make (and save!) it.

There is so much time wasted in business that it is no wonder that every person you catch up with at a networking event talks about being so busy.

A thorough sales process that matches how your CRM is set up is ideal, but here are some very light weight ways to help you save time before you add confusion to the fire and waste potentially great leads.

Automate your lead forms:

Most websites will have a contact lead form that results in someone getting an email.  They will copy the details into a CRM (yaa!), a spreadsheet (boo), or just fire off an email or phone call to the lead (really?). Just about every CRM will allow you to create a lead form that automatically puts the information into your CRM. Take advantage of it.

Automate your scheduling:

Calendly is a tool that I use to make scheduling meetings easier, but more and more CRM solutions are adding this in as a feature to make scheduling easier. Before I started using Calendly, I would exchange 4-6 emails to schedule time for a meeting. Just estimating, it would take at least 20-30 minutes between checking for available time and sending emails back and forth. For every meeting.

That adds up quickly.

Here is the thing, if you only need one meeting type, Calendly is absolutely free.  When you have multiple different types of meeting types, that is when you have to pay the extremely reasonable price of $8 per month.  

At the premium level of $12 a month, you can actually send SMS text reminders to people who schedule time on your calendar.

Some people think that sending people to a calendar tool to let them pick time will run people off, but no one has ever complained about it to me. If someone hasn’t heard of it, they talk about what an awesome experience it is.

Standardize your proposals and your pricing:

I know some people who obsess over their proposals, spending 10+ hours on each one because each one is starting from scratch.  There is no good reason to do this, but I will tell you why so many people do it.

They are counting on the proposal to get the “yes” from their prospect. They think that if the proposal is in depth enough, and if they provide enough value in it, the client will have no option but to say yes.  

This is a terrible way to run your business.

Imagine this:

  • You hire a salesperson.
  • They spend 10+ hours creating a fancy proposal for each and every client laying out what you can do for them.
  • They have no idea if you can actually help the client or if they are even qualified to work with you.

A sales mentor of mine once told me, “If you are counting on the proposal to win you the business, you don’t deserve to win it.”

Every client I have worked with in both this business and the last has been closed because of a solid sales conversation. The proposal is just communicating expectations and gives me something to refer them back to if things go off the rails. They are never more than just a couple of pages long and most of it is standard with names and prices being changed for each client.

At the end of the day, any of these tips will save you a little bit of time, but when you add them all together, it can save a lot.

There is so much more to creating a process that will allow you to scale your sales, but this will put you on the path to getting started. When you detach from your process and look at it from the viewpoint of, “Would I be ok if I had an employee and they wanted to do it this way?” you will see even more areas to standardize and automate to create more time for yourself and your sales team.

And more time means more sales.

 

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