When it Comes to Leads, Quality Trumps Quantity

To hit your sales goals, there’s more involved than just finding quality leads to put in the pipeline. Your sales results only improve when you also pay careful attention to your quantity of leads.

It’s a bit like winemaking. Conventional wisdom used to be that great wine could only come from tending to and harvesting grapes by hand. Thus, vineyards were kept small. However, smart winemakers today know they can produce a consistently great vintage and in larger quantities from a steadily growing vineyard. The secret: investing wisely in technology including machine harvesting. The more you can fine-tune the harvesters, the more efficient you can be in separating good grapes from bad and apply a systematic way of making great wine.

The key takeaway applies just as much to sales: tackling quantity in your pipeline is as vital as quality. As I’ve explained before: unless you keep it filled with good prospects and growing to suit the needs of your market, you risk stagnation.

Six fundamentals of quantity lead management

It’s important to have a well executed, scalable plan for how you build and manage that growing quantity of leads. While there many tactics you employ here on an ad-hoc basis, there are six fundamental ones that every business needs to focus on weekly.

1. Define your ideal buyer

A subset of the timeless principle of know you customer: know who among your buyers gives you your best experience as a seller. Fill your pipeline with more prospects who can emulate that experience. This is where it’s important to have your sales and marketing teams working together: by mining your CRM for meaningful data and defining that ideal buyer as a team, you help ensure your selling process stays in alignment.

2. Get referrals

There’s no greater power in marketing than word of mouth. As I explain in my book, Non-Stop Sales Boom, referrals close at double the success rate of other prospects. Just as important: like attracts like. When you ask your best customers for referrals, they tend to put you in touch with more people who are like them. Develop a repeatable process for your team that they can implement to ask for those referrals. Build it right into your CRM to ensure referral opportunities are never missed.

3. Keep networking

There are two kinds of networking activities. First, there’s the old fashioned kind: going to industry association events, meeting people who are either prospects or who can refer you to prospects and listening carefully to the business problems that they are dealing with. There’s a second kind of networking that you need just as much: your online presence. You build that presence by providing useful content that helps people solve those business problems that they struggle with. You do that by posting podcasts, writing articles, creating how-to videos, publishing books, and sharing slides of your most recent public speaking events. LinkedIn is the bare minimum I insist my clients use for online networking. With 75% of business buyers using LinkedIn as a resource today, can you really afford to not be there?

4. Find the linkages in data

You can surprise yourself by how many people you actually know. Here’s an example from my own business. I went looking through my CRM at Engage, looking for the contact name of a new sales director within the organization of one of my clients. In my search, I discovered the company directory, which revealed to me that I had more than 82 contacts within the organization! Each one was someone with whom I’d had a direct experience—either working with them in a classroom setting when providing sales training or in a boardroom setting when providing sales advice.

5. Use social media for listening

The best advice for networking applies just as much to social media: talk less and listen more. Too often, we use social media only as a broadcasting tool for talking about ourselves. Sure, there’s value in that if you are delivering value in your “talk, but if you are not listening carefully to what your clients and prospects are saying on social media, you are missing out on lost opportunities. Here’s an example: an Engage client pays careful attention to the social media feed of their State Governor. Why? Because they noticed that this particular Governor was in the habit of announcing new business and new investments on social media first—ahead of traditional media. This means they can prepare business proposals in response and reach out to these new businesses days ahead of the competition.

6. Maintain the personal touch

Technology complements but does not substitute personalized marketing. I see that fact get overlooked far too often, especially with email. People can tell when you’re blasting out a cookie-cutter message to a mass audience. And they tune it out. It pays to think carefully about the needs of your best prospect or customer and then give them something valuable, meant just for them. Here’s an example, again from my own business. Engage identified a superb prospect whom we knew would be a great customer. But after months of trying to earn their attention and land their business, zero results. So we tried a new tactic. We sent a copy of my newest book, Non-Stop Sales Boom, with a handwritten note and yellow stickies identifying in precise detail how we could help them solve a tough business problem they had. The phone rang the next day and we landed them as a six-figure account as a result.