Rank sales leads by value while tracking position in your lead maturity cycle to obtain a realistic picture of opportunities

We use a lead ranking system built on:

  1. Lead Value and
  2. Lead Maturity, meaning the position of a lead in a specific lead maturity cycle

We implement our lead ranking system to provide clients with a realistic picture of sales opportunities over time.

Let’s look at the second of these factors first, lead maturity. Our maturity plan for leads includes the following stages:

  1. Initial conversation with an unqualified contact
  2. Follow up conversation about some information that has been exchanged with this unqualified contact
  3. A conversation about a point of interest expressed by this unqualified contact. This point of interest is somehow related to information already exchanged
  4. An unspecified number of conversations with additional contacts at the same prospect business to determine whether the unqualified contact is someone who can make a decision about a purchase for your product or service
  5. An unspecified number of conversations with additional contacts at the same prospect business to determine areas of interest as well as potential requirements for products or services offered by your business
  6. Assembling a list of contacts at the prospect business who should participate in a discussion about your product or service as a solution for requirements either formalized or at some informal stage
  7. Meeting with a group of contacts at the prospect business who would like to discuss further points of interest or potential areas of need for your product or service. These contacts should be selected from the individuals unearthed through steps 4 and 5 above
  8. Meeting with a contact, or a group of contacts who have been verified as decision makers for a purchase requirement that has been budgeted by the prospect business that calls for a product or service that corresponds to what your business offers

Once the 8th step in this process has been successfully completed (meaning that the prospect business would like to proceed further with the discussion) then the lead can be said, per our system, to be mature and ready for transition to sales for further development as a bonafide sales opportunity.

Our experience is that telemarketing teams present an excellent opportunity to progress leads through our maturity cycle to step 8. The time required to move a lead through each of these stages in development is a variable. The process can be faster or more retarded depending on the type of product and target market. What is important is that enough information be collected through each of these steps to make a best possible effort to ensure that time is not wasted on what Jeff Thull refers to as “Dry Runs.”

Obviously there are many steps within the progress of a lead through our 8 stages of maturity. We would be happy to elaborate on our model upon request. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved


Proceed on Channel Sales Strategies with Realistic Expectations of Value Add

It makes sense to provide leads to channel partners who can be counted on to follow up on leads. This assumption may seem costly, but it makes sense. Here’s why: One of the key value adds for channel partners is their position with regard to procurement for major accounts within a geographically local area. The days are long gone for most major accounts as to doing business with just anybody, let alone a company that is largely under the radar. The probable answer on this one is a very likely “no thanks.” So what’s a poor under the radar company with a channel strategy to do to get a critical foot in the door at that behemoth business down the street? Pass the ball to the channel partner on your team who is listed with procurement and fast track that order along your sales cycle.

Try this strategy and you’ll probably like it. Further, don’t be fussy about what constitutes an acceptable follow up on a lead. In some cases it may be no more than pushing the order through procurement or merely catching it when procurement goes out to the roster of approved vendors to see who can fill the order. Be happy that you had a mitt out there to catch the order and don’t complain.

All of the above is not to say that channel partners will not add value to sales development efforts. Rather, I am pointing out these factors to help you expand your concept of what actually amounts to value add to include just catching an order coming out of procurement. I have literally worked with clients who lacked the public financial credibility to pass a procurement review. Without a channel, there was no recourse but to look to wealthy partners to collect the order, else the business would have been lost altogether.

Of course there will be certainly channel partners who can be relied upon to make tons of effort to promote your product with each and every lead that you bequeath upon them, but be wary. A partner may make that effort to crack into a top account riding along your lead. I applaud a business that will go an extra mile to bring my product home to a new account. But I would rather stake my chips on a partner who is already a prime vendor to the prospect.

In sum, managing channel requires a certain finesse and certainly does not lend itself, at the onset of a channel program, to rigid policies and guidelines. Maintain flexibility to win at this game.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved


Four Essential Methods for Successful Sales

There is a science to sales. Despite rumors to the contrary, sales is really not magic. True, certain personality types have a proclivity to sales, but no, personality types alone will not determine the success or failure of sales efforts. From the perspective of a business owner, or a head of sales and marketing, the success or failure of sales efforts should depend on a disciplined application of several methods including:

  1. Creating a formal sales plan that includes a realistic, achievable and satisfactory (meaning sustainable) dollar (or any other currency) volume of sales revenue to be achieved on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual basis
  2. Plotting a useful chronological model of the sales cycle for the specific product or service sold by the business
  3. Calculating the number of prospect opportunities required to produce the volume of sales revenue required to meet the business plan given the amount of time (chronological length of the sales cycle for the product or service you are selling)
  4. Reporting regularly (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually) on actual activity undertaken to deliver a successful result to the sales plan. These regular reports should include summaries of sales activity, prospect lists, lists of prospects who have expressed an interest in buying the product or service including a record of whether or not identified prospects went ahead and bought the product together with an assessment of why the sale did or did not happen

In my experience, merely the ability to deliver successfully on points one through four often spells the difference between success and failure for a business. Fact is that most managers and businesses lack the stamina and determination to follow through on each of these critically important steps. Realistically, simply following through with these steps can open an opportunity to redesign products or services that have not been thoroughly thought through, effectively buying time to “change the wheels” on the “bus” while you “drive”.

Of course, the question then becomes whether these methods will produce a remedy sooner, or later. The preference is always for sooner, but really the “heavy lifting” in the area of product management is the responsibility of marketing, not sales. The boon and the bane of it is that sales can continue to trudge along regardless of the success or failure of product marketing; hence the close alignment, as I see it, between sales and marketing for businesses with new technology that operate under the radar.

Over time, the practice of these methods will provide management with the most accurate picture of what it takes to successfully operate. Plan on the initial effort to be a crap shoot. Be willing to revise on the fly.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved