The black hole lead crisis: Do you know where your leads are?
Like many of the readers of this article, for more than 25 years now I have been working with and struggling with sales leads. From the late ‘80s and ‘90s when ISHN and others sent you the “bingo card” responses from the magazine by snail mail (is that still a phrase?), then fax, to electronic lead flow process today we’re all still trying to close leads. Regardless of if you’re a brand or manufacturer exhibiting at national or international shows or a distributor exhibiting at local or regional shows, the struggle is the same: “How do I turn leads into revenue?” or Lead 2 Revenue “as I like to call it.
Once upon a time…
In the past we collected business cards, then later scanned cards into machines and now we have QR or bar-code readers. We end up with big lists, well hopefully big lists, from the shows and events we attend, and the story is the same, isn’t it? Our sales support or marketing team sorts the database by salesperson, independent rep or agent, etc., and the lead is sent by email or from a CRM of some sort. We hope and pray that they get it to the distributor partner and something eventually happens and someone in the food chain notifies us.
Your system might be a little bit more advanced, but no matter how you slice it, we all struggle to turn show, event, or other marketing and lead generation endeavors into revenue. I like to refer to this as a “Lead Chasm” where leads can easily fall into the “Black Hole of Sales Leads.”
The “Lead Chasm”
The “Lead Chasm” isn’t a little problem haunting only the safety and industrial markets. In the U.S. more than $30 billion are spent each year on trade shows and events, with well more than $10 billion spent on other lead generation activities. Yet according to Forrester Research only one percent of those leads turn to revenue.
Statistics also say that more than 50 percent of attendees at shows have specific intentions to buy and a far greater number have the ability to purchase and the authority to purchase. Here are some interesting stats to consider when evaluating your tradeshow/event leads and processes.
- U.S. B2B companies spend more than $40 billion a year on events, shows and other lead generation activities’
- Nearly 50 percent don’t know what percentage of trade show and event leads convert to sales; and
- Only 47 percent have a system to track, share and manage sales leads.
Following up on sales leads is hard. Following up on sales leads becomes much harder when you have a multi-channel distribution model utilizing third-party partners like manufacturers reps and distributors. It’s not about bad intentions. Everyone wants more sales, but we still have the Black Hole leads fall into.
What about CRM or lead management tools? A large number of robust and functionality-rich CRM tools exist, such as SalesForce.com, SAP CRM, RPMS or Macs for Mfg Reps, Microsoft Dynamics and more. These systems range in cost from free online CRM tools to $200+per month/per user. You’ll likely need to configure and customize these systems to align to your business needs and goals, requiring more expense and resources. Still, most companies struggle to get full adoption and rarely use the full functionality of the product they choose.
Why isn’t there a better way?
When I come home from a trade show, enter 300 leads into a CRM and send to the sales channel, it always feels like a futile use of my money.
Coming to the rescue
Well, that was then, this is now. At LeadSmart Technologies we’ve developed an automated solution that is more than just another piece of software or a “new and improved” CRM. The LeadSmart solution combines technology, automation, and processes into a complete system for rescuing Black Hole Leads and converting these leads into revenue and customers.
The core of the solution is LeadSmart Connect™. LeadSmart Connect was designed and developed to address what we call Lead Chasms and Stale Leads.
This is how it works:
- As leads are generated they are immediately loaded into LeadSmart and assigned to the appropriate member(s) of the sales channel.
- The lead is categorized and mapped to a specific stage of the business cycle which is customized as part of the Quick Start program. This sets your individual companies’ terms, processes, timing, sequences, etc. to manage your leads and channel partners.
- When a lead is assigned all members of the sale channel (company salespeople, reps, distributors, etc.) are notified and given access to a custom, mobile-friendly lead portal where they can access their assigned leads, make updates, change status, update lead value, and track activity and sales progress. This information is automatically made available to the businesses sales team and management through a series of systematic reports and dashboards.
- All leads are colored-coded. This makes it easy to visually track which leads are being moved through the sales process and turned into revenue, and which need attention.
- All members of the sales channel (including all third-party sales partners) receive a regularly scheduled email that contains a list of all of their assigned leads, their color-coded status and recent activity. From this email, the sales team member can directly access the LeadSmart Portal to update a lead or a series of leads.
- Finally, the business has a full set of real-time dashboards and reports where all leads can be tracked and managed ensuring full visibility, accountability and intelligence for each and every lead. Plus, LeadSmart Connect can be programed to access your ERP or accounting system to bring full data regarding not only your sales leads but your company, sales team, and channel partners’ financial performance.
LeadSmart has built this game changing Lead2Revenue tool on the SalesForce Unified Platform Services. LeadSmart is built on the same platform as SalesForce.com, bringing customers nearly all the functionality of the world’s most popular CRM, but most importantly adding the LeadSmart layer to eliminate Black Hole Sales Leads and drive Leads2Revenue. All this at a price significantly less than CRM or other tools lacking the functionality of LeadSmart.
Imagine if you increased your sales lead conversions by 5, 10 or 15 percent. Imagine what that would that do to your company revenues. And imagine what it would do for your channel partners commissions and profits.