We asked LinkedIn to find out what people thought…
Every now and then, someone says to us that they don’t want too many leads coming in. So we thought we would ask LinkedIn what they thought about this – is there such a thing as too many leads? So we put out a 3-day LinkedIn poll to see what responses we would get.
Here is the result of that poll:
You can see a full list of the responses we had at the bottom, but to summarise them, the reasons people said Yes, are:
- Bad (wrong) leads waste your time, so they are not wanted.
- Leads can take your eye off the ball, leading to poor client service
So let’s look at how you can control the quality of the leads your small business gets, so you never have to worry about too many leads.
When asked who you want as leads, does the word “anyone” get used? Let’s say you’re an accountant. If you say “Anyone with a business”, you are inviting leads that you don’t want. Leads that will waste your time.
The more focused you are, the more likely you are to get the leads you want. Why? Because a clearly defined Ideal Client includes a list of key issues and how you resolve them for that person. That set of resolutions and issues helps you develop the key messages, your marketing content and your evidence. Your messages, content and evidence are what generate the leads, no matter what marketing channels you are using.
Sales vs Marketing
Traditionally these teams, or people, disagree about a lot. One will say the lead is qualified and the will disagree. Both will say they are always flat out and they will both say the other is sitting around doing nothing.
If these two don’t agree on what a qualified lead looks like, you are always going to have a rift between them and you will always have “bad leads”.
Define a qualified lead and your pipeline stages
Your Sales, Marketing and Management teams have to develop an agreed definition of a qualified lead. As a lead moves through your sales pipeline, you have to be very clear about how a lead has been allowed to move forward. As a business, you have to be able to clearly justify why each opportunity is where it is in the pipeline.
As much as I believe Hubspot is massively over-complicated (particularly for small businesses), the way they talk about pipeline stages makes real sense. They always talk in the past tense – has been qualified, had a proposal – etc. If the pipeline stage simply said Qualified or Proposal, that could mean a multitude of things:
- Is ready for a proposal
- Has asked for a proposal
- Has been offered a proposal
- Is waiting for a proposal
- Has had a proposal
Which is it? There is a big difference between the first and the last, in terms of both actual pipeline progress and in likelihood of a sale.
Having 100s of leads in your pipeline is a bad thing. They are only there because Sales doesn’t want to show low numbers. If you have “Warm Leads” that haven’t been communicated with in months, we would strongly suggest they are no longer leads, never mind warm ones!
You are far better off qualifying out those that are unlikely to buy soon. Dedicating time to nurturing those who aren’t buying is a waste of time. Please remember, they can always come back into your pipeline at other time.
If you are getting lots of qualified leads and you believe you will struggle to deliver them, ensure that timescales are a key part of your qualification process. Far better to say to a prospect that you cannot deliver what they want until [insert approx. date] and give them the opportunity to source elsewhere (this time), than to say you can and deliver either late or badly.
Know your numbers so you can predict accurately
How many leads do you need to generate a sale? Do you know? Has that improved or worsened over the last year or so?
If you are only closing a small percentage of your leads, where is the issue?
- If you are qualifying out lots of leads (or they are qualifying themselves out) early on, you are getting bad leads.
- If you are qualifying them in (to an agreed specification), but not closing them, the issue is not the leads.
- If you are then losing clients quickly, or not getting repeat sales, the issue is in operational delivery.
You need to know your numbers for these reasons:
- You’ll be able to see whether the problem lies.
- So you can compare them against previous performance and see if they are improving.
- So you can predict how much business is likely to be coming in, helping you prepare to deliver what those clients need from you.
Revise your marketing
If you are getting bad leads, your marketing needs changing.
- If you are getting leads from outside your geographical area (and it isn’t cost effective to sell outside your patch), you need to ensure your marketing content specifically says where you work. Make sure any Adverts, whether PPC, social ads or even print, are only showing within your area.
- If the leads are after something you don’t sell, your marketing messages definitely need editing to make them clearer.
Remember: the more specific you are, the better your leads will be. This is not just for networking; it is for all your marketing.
Keep talking to them
Finally, something to help you bring them back in to your pipeline when the time is right. During the buying process, prospects can only do one of three things:
- Buy from you
- Buy from someone else
- Not buy
Everyone who goes through your initial qualification process MUST go onto your mailing list. Keeping communicating with them, so that:
- If they bought from you before, they can do so again.
- If they didn’t buy from you, they remember who you are when the company they did buy from stops delivering well.
- When they are ready to buy, you are at least a company they consider buying from.
So going back to our original question: Is there such as thing as too many leads?
If you answer the question in its purest form, we believe there is no such thing as too many leads!
You can have too many bad leads and that is a marketing issue.
You can have too many leads that don’t close. That is a sales issue.
You can have insufficient resource to deliver high sales volumes. That is a management issue. But by working on these six areas, you can move to a place where there is no such thing as too many leads.
We hope this helps.