By Todd Smithee

Generating qualified leads is a constant concern for sales teams in nearly all organizations.  How many times have your sales executives asked for more “qualified” leads from marketing?  If your organization is like most, it is a very common request.  You can invest more money in trade shows, email marketing, print ads, and pay-per-click activities to generate more leads. Is this really the answer, though?

Before investing more in lead-generation activities, you may want to consider reviewing how your organization processes the leads you are currently generating.  This can be done by asking just a few simple questions:

Question 1 – What is Your Distribution Process?

If your answer includes the terms “email” or “delivered to managers for distribution,” you will want to take a timeout.  These delivery methodologies provide little or no opportunity for success tracking and ongoing lead management.  Leads can also get lost in the “noise” of day-to-day activities.  There are web-based lead-management solutions available that will automatically distribute leads and notify the appropriate party of any new lead opportunity.

Question 2 – How Many Attempts Do Your Sales Reps Make to Reach a Lead?

Most marketing teams cannot answer this question, especially if they do not have appropriate lead-management processes and technology.  It typically takes up to three attempts to connect with just sixty percent of a list of trade show leads.  Web lead contact rates can be even lower.  An effective lead-management process can ensure maximum contact rates for all of your leads.  A well-thought lead-management process will also allow you to contact your leads much more rapidly, resulting in better conversion rates.  “Based on our research, our key findings are that personal contact and timeliness are the most important elements of an effective lead follow-up strategy.”  KnowledgeStorm and The Artimis Group

Question 3 – Are Your Leads Being Nurtured Over the Long Term?

Face it.  Sales teams have monthly and quarterly quotas that drive activity.  Nothing is going to change that in the foreseeable future.  This pressure often results in leads receiving less than optimal attention.  An effective way of dealing with this is to keep all leads in marketing until the prospect has a need for your firm’s product or service.  An ongoing nurturing process that utilizes multiple touch points (email, telemarketing, newsletters, etc.) ensures that you will stay in front of the prospect until they are ready to buy.

Lead generation is only a part of the equation.  A well-designed lead-qualification process will ensure maximum conversion and ROI on lead-generation programs, without the expense of implementing new campaigns.  Lead process definition and development can quickly deliver improved results.  It is a great place to start.