We always hear the call from management, “We need more sales!” The call from the marketing team: “Sales needs to do better with the leads, they don’t close enough.” The sales team complaining that “these leads from marketing are horrible.” Same story, new year. 

Fashion, political officials and the weather might change but the same call for “MORE SALES” seems to stick. For nearly 30 years I have been working within the industrial market and have been challenged with the same issue as others: How to get more leads and how to grow more sales. I have worked for a major national distributor, as a manufacturer’s rep, a manufacturer myself and now advise others on sales and marketing strategies and solutions, so I have seen all perspectives. 

Does everyone have good intentions when it comes to driving growth? I would suggest in the vast majority of cases YES. Does everyone or every organization have the right tools, or use the right tools? Certainly not!  

Recall the “black hole”

You might remember an article I wrote earlier this year about the “BLACK HOLE LEAD CRISIS” and the challenge companies have with turning leads into revenue. Since then my partners and I at LeadSmart have continued to build out our product and systems and have done a lot of ongoing research. 

What we have found is that the primary reason businesses are struggling with CRM adoption, developing high-quality leads and with converting leads into revenue is they just don’t have the right technology. 

While most businesses have an ERP system, some sort of a CRM and maybe even a high-cost marketing/email automation tool, we have discovered that getting good internal adoption of these tools and driving revenue from their use is an ongoing struggle. 

Why most businesses struggle

We have discovered the five key reasons most businesses struggle with using technology to actually turn leads into revenue:  

  1. Many CRM products that are designed for and marketed to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are missing essential CRM features and functionality. Most low-cost CRM tools are missing critical functionality needed to track, manage and automate the process of turning a lead into a customer.  
  2. On the flip side, the use of a full-feature enterprise CRM systems like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, etc. can be complicated and overwhelming and employee adoption is poor. People tend to shy away from using what they don’t fully understand. At the end of the day there is an expensive and powerful tool that still doesn’t drive sales or efficiencies in the business! 
  3. In the U.S. nearly $40 billion is spent annually on trade shows and events, yet Forrester Research states that only about one percent of leads ever turn into customers. Why? Businesses have not implemented the right technology and processes to automate the development of these leads into real prospects and opportunities. Your business may already be closing more than one percent of your leads but the right lead development technology can increase close rates on sales leads by 20 percent or more -- which is game-changing.  
  4. Most manufacturers sell through channels (reps, brokers, distributors, etc.) yet many rely on old-school email and spreadsheets for communication and coordination with their sales partners i.e., “go to show, download all leads, sort by state, send to rep, hope rep sends to distributor and hope distributor tells rep they contacted company.” What SMB’s require is a system that brings 24/7/365 visibility and accountability across both their internal and external sales channels.  
  5. The cost of a full-feature CRM system combined with a marketing automation system and a partner management system can run several thousand dollars per month, which is prohibitive for most SMB’s. What is needed is an integrated system that contains the necessary CRM, lead development/marketing automation and partner collaboration features at a reasonable price. 

We have found the above five points to be the major challenges facing small and midsized businesses when it comes to converting more leads into revenue. Unfortunately, companies spend a large budget on technology but don’t get the results and ROI expected.  

That’s what we’ve found with our clients and definitely what I have experienced in my career.  What is your experience? We’d love to hear your thoughts on shows, leads, marketing automation and business tools! Let’s keep the conversation going!