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B2B Sales leads success checklist

You’ve spent a great deal of time, effort and money putting together your business-to-business sales lead generation programs. How you handle B2B sales leads once you get them makes the difference between a happy sales team and new customers or an unhappy sales team and lost sales.

Here’s a checklist of questions to ask yourself to determine if you have the best chance of being successful with your sales lead programs:

Are you prepared to send requested information immediately?

Prospects have their own agenda and timeline, not yours or your firm’s. So, you need to be efficient and strike while you have the opportunity. Timing of your inquiry handling processes are of paramount importance. Your firm needs to respond to all inquiries quickly—the faster, the better.

Here are some questions to keep in mind:

* Do you know what to send in response to different types of inquiries?
* Do you have electronic versions for those who want the information by e-mail or via downloads from your Web site?
* Do you have adequate supplies of printed materials ready for those who prefer them?
* Do you have the people, systems and processes in place to get the requested
information out the door quickly?

Are you prepared to capture all inquiries in a database for ongoing nurturing and qualification efforts?

To avoid having any of the golden sales opportunities represented by your inquiries fall through the cracks, you need to capture all of your inquiries in a database so you can properly manage their fulfillment, nurturing, qualification and distribution. With this in mind:

* Do you have the database ready to go?
* Do you have the data entry people or outside services lined up to get the inquirers into the database?

Do you have a program in place to “qualify” sales leads before sending them to your salespeople, reps, dealers or distributors?

If your business-to-business marketing-for-leads program is to succeed, marketing, sales and corporate management need to share a unified definition of qualified sales leads. If you all agree from the start on what a qualified lead is, then deliver leads that meet that definition, your sales team will be able to effectively and efficiently follow up and close more sales.

* Have you agreed with sales management on which questions to ask in order to determine which leads are qualified?
* Have you agreed what information is required to know which sales contacts to route the qualified leads to?
* Do you have proactive programs in place to contact and qualify your leads?

Do you have a process in place for distributing qualified leads to sales contacts as they are identified?

Sales leads are worthless unless they are quickly handed off to the right sales contact for follow up. Your lead distribution process has to be well defined and ready to go—in advance—so as to prevent delays or misdirection when leads are qualified and ready for sales attention. It also has to be easy for your salespeople, reps, resellers and distributors to access the qualified sales leads and manage their lead follow up.

* Is your sales leads program designed to get the leads into salespeople’s hands without delay?
* Have you made it easy for your salespeople, reps, dealers or distributors to use?
* Can they access leads over the Internet?
* Does it integrate with their existing contact management or email systems?

Do you have a program in place to nurture or cultivate your not-yet-qualified leads?

Salespeople generally focus on those one-in-four sales leads who are ready to buy soon. However, research shows that three of four sales come from longer-term prospects who are frequently ignored by sales. As these longer-term leads represent the lion’s share of the potentional sales, your sales lead management program must be designed to help nurture the longer-term leads until they are qualified as being sales-ready opportunities.

* Does your company have a prospect relationship marketing program in place to keep in touch with these longer-term prospects, using email, fax, mail and phone contacts, until they are identified as being qualified and ready for sales attention?
* Do you know what messages to send as part of your prospect relationship management program?
* Do you know how often to contact prospects with these messages?
* Do you know what offers to use to get them to further identify their needs and situation so you can determine if they are ready for sales?

Do you have a program in place to measure and track the results of your various sales-lead generation, cultivation and sales follow-up programs?

A marketer I know recently reported to her management on the results of the company’s lead generation programs: Awareness of their company and its products among targeted prospects more than doubled; the cost per qualified lead delivered to sales by marketing dropped by nearly 40 percent; 58 percent of the opportunities in the sales pipeline were found first by marketing; and 48 percent of the sales closed; and 62 percent of the revenue during the past 12 months came from marketing-generated leads.

The result? She got a bigger B2B marketing budget and senior management no longer doubts marketing's contribution to the company's success. Can you answer these questions and show your management how your lead generation programs are contributing to your company’s success?

* Can you determine your cost per lead, cost per qualified lead and cost per sale?
* Do you know which lead programs generate the highest return on investment?
* Do you know which nurturing techniques worked and which didn’t?
* Can you prove to management that your lead generation programs are paying off in increased sales and market share?

Refer to this checklist of questions to guide the development or improvement of your company’s sales lead management programs and processes and you’ll have the best chance of being successful.

About the Author: M. H. “Mac" McIntosh is described by many as one of America’s leading B2B marketing consultants and an expert on the subject of sales lead generation. For the latest sales lead response-producing tactics that are working NOW to drive leads and multiply sales subscribe to Mac’s FREE Newsletter, Sales Lead Report®, at

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