Premature leads may cause sales abandonment

Rod Griffith

By Rod Griffith
February 2, 2014

The fact is: today’s savvy technology decision makers are much deeper into their purchase cycle before they’re ready and willing to talk to your sales people. That’s at least partly due to the vast spectrum of information, advice, testimonials, technical papers, online demonstrations, and video tutorials available to research and review—delaying the need to reach out to vendor sales people.

According to the National Sales Executive Association, 80% of complex B2B sales are made on the fifth or later sales attempt to reach a contact. So what’s the problem? Well, that same research also shows that 82% of all sales reps give up after three or fewer sales attempts!

As you can see, there’s a problem if you’re sending prospective leads to your field sales people and those leads have had just one or two contacts with your company. Those leads are premature, and your sales people will exhaust their efforts and abandon further attempts before the customer is truly ready for engagement.

The unfortunate irony is that the lead may be highly qualified, but your sales people (or resellers) will abandon it  just shy of when the lead was ready.

Synchronizing your lead generation efforts

There are two possible solutions to overcome this sales abandonment paradigm:

  1. Convince your sales force to significantly extend the sales attempts they’re willing to make—well beyond the third unsuccessful attempt.
  2. Develop marketing campaigns designed to create at least three engagements with prospects before the lead is passed onto the sales force. This way, the sales person’s three attempts will be numbers four, five and six, thus improving their chances of success.

Changing the sales people’s behavior will require top-down involvement of the sales organization, and may also require very specific incentives. Clearly, the better solution for most marketers is Solution #2: creating marketing campaigns that are designed specifically to acknowledge and overcome this sales abandonment issue.

Lead incubation programs

Lead incubation (or lead nurturing) programs are designed for Solution #2. They establish and maintain an ongoing relationship with your sales prospects, engaging with them through a series of outbound and inbound marketing communications (assisted by marketing automation tools, if applicable), with the specific intent of identifying when these prospects are truly qualified and ready for sales engagement.

Lead incubation programs encourage the first few engagements with the prospect in a manner that does not involve a sales person. The lead is not distributed to a sales person until those first three efforts have occurred and key qualification criteria have been met, thus avoiding premature abandonment.

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