Do Salespeople Suffer From Lead Overload?
Updated: Nov 21
Managers should reexamine the salesperson's role and how leads are created, measured, and converted. Lead generation has evolved since my early years in sales to a multi-faceted process combining robust software tools and communication platforms. What balance should we strike, and what have we learned in gathering leads to support customer acquisition and revenue growth?
Can You Hear Me knocking?
My first lead generation experience in radio entailed walking down the city's main streets and entering any business with a sign out front. Lead generation and prospecting were about knocking on doors, and you would introduce yourself to the owner/manager or leave your business card if you missed a decision-maker. I would jot down a few notes on anything discovered while in the business and leverage the information for an appointment in the coming days.
Later as a sales manager, I would use my past success finding leads to help my team. We would meet early in the office parking lot each month. Providing coffee and donuts on the hood of my car to boost their energy, we would go over the "lead generation contest rules." I divided the team and directed them to business districts scattered across town. By 5:00 PM, the top team members with their collected business cards would win prizes.
The lead process was a simple approach that worked to fill their sales funnels with prospects for the next few weeks of selling. This strategy could still work in smaller markets where personal contact and face-to-face meetings are options.
A Case of Too Many Sales Leads
Years later, when walking door-to-door took a back seat to computers and software, lead generation pivoted to large databases. Corporate would drop mountainous lists from third-party vendors on my desk with contact information, addresses, and businesses sized by revenues.
As the number of leads ballooned, we organized formal callout sessions weekly for the sales team to work through these massive lists.
The data quality was often suspect, and sellers wasted more time being human data filters than securing great appointments. Some companies stayed the course, cleaned up the data, and improved lead generation strategies; unfortunately, many did not. As the quantity-over-quality ratio depressed results, the lead generation responsibility ultimately returned to individual sellers.
Complex Sales Solutions Take Time
Fast forward from the years of forced callout sessions with extensive lead lists, and we find a new problem with sellers managing lead generation and time management. Sales teams are constantly acquiring more offerings for their "solution toolbox." These sophisticated solutions make sales more complex due to expanded options and required training. Educating prospects on the value of more offerings is difficult and takes time.
Too many leads can stifle a seller's performance, and pure lead generation does not guarantee sales success. Sellers are also busy building their brand online to stand out and get appointments. Even with new sales tools like email video clips getting appointments takes more time.
A Balance in Leads and Content Marketing
In a sales world with companies looking for speed and the benefits of volume selling, it's hard to slow down the focus on lead volume. Everyone agrees lead generation is essential to fill the top of any sales funnel and will determine top-line revenues. How you manage lead generation and where your leads come from is key to optimal results.
Sales teams need more training on lead quality over quantity to move past the stale volume metrics of activity driving success. Managers can help sellers shift the emphasis on the number of leads needed with changes in performance expectations not driven by lead counts.
To balance lead generation efforts, managers should also plan investments for content strategies that bring quality leads to the team. There is an urgent need for full-time content managers in sales departments to educate prospects and inbound marketing tools to generate more qualified leads. Here is a link to my "Sales Content Manager" article, "Who Is Your Sales Content Manager".
Lastly, Ford Motor Company spent millions of dollars branding the phrase, "Quality is job one." Outside sellers do not need more leads; instead, the focus should be on quality to protect the time required to get the appointment, identify the needs, and provide the right solution for a close.
*This article was originally published in the September 2022 issue of Radio Ink Magazine
Thank you for reading this article.
As President of Drake Media Group and a revenue management advisor, I am working to share thoughtful content focusing on best practices to enhance sales performance and revenues. Drake Media Group offers a range of expertise on sales operations, team and individual coaching, yield and revenue management strategies, sponsorship sales, and support for content marketing.
Drake Media Group, LLC retains exclusive rights to any original content in articles written by Alec Drake or published on any third-party platforms and in any podcast.