How to QC Your Lead Follow-Up System Without Touching a Computer

Business.com / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Looking at sales reports can certainly be helpful to sales managers and sales directors, but it has its limitations.

Looking at sales reports can certainly be helpful to sales managers and sales directors, but it has its limitations.

Most importantly, staring at reports on a computer screen gives you no qualitative insight about how well your lead follow-up system is working—and without qualitative insight, you cannot make the system function any better.

Reporting is an important necessity for all areas of a company, marketing and sales in particular, but without analysis and action items, it's nothing more than a historical log.

The Danger of Over-Reliance on Reports

Let me share a real-life story to illustrate: Our marketing agency was about to be fired from a pay-per-click advertising campaign because the computer reports the client was looking at showed a lot of phone calls, but no closed sales.

Statistically, the campaign looked like a slam-dunk failure. However, when a member of the client’s leadership team got away from her computer and actually listened to what was going on—lo and behold—it turned out there were flaws in the client’s initial phone screening procedures. Once those flaws were addressed, our campaign started producing sales.

The client dodged potentially fatal bullets here: First, data may have caused the client to curtail a marketing campaign that was working; second, its internal follow-up system would have continued to limp along ineffectively, causing it to squander sales leads from any and every source.

Why Look for Follow-Up Problems?

Lead follow-up systems usually flow through three basic steps: initial screening, preliminary qualification and closing. Sales managers must take care to personally examine what is going on at each step, rather than take someone’s word for it. Here is why:

Nobody understands sales like a salesperson. If a receptionist or the customer service staff is doing initial phone screening, the office manager or customer service manager may think calls are being handled properly when, in reality, they are not.

This is no knock on other departments; sales is a profession, and people who have not been specifically trained in it are not in a strong position to evaluate sales performance.

Along similar lines, a sales associate or assistant manager often oversees preliminary qualification, but what if this individual is new to the business? What if the individual lacks the experience and judgment to make a proper assessment?

Without seeing for yourself what is happening, you cannot help this individual acquire more knowledge—knowledge to improve this step of the process.

Related Article: Circle Back Like A Serious Pro By Automating Sales Follow-Ups

Where to Look for Follow-Up Problems

Important qualitative issues to monitor in the field include:

Initial Screening

Listen to what is happening.

How many times does the phone ring before it is answered? How are sales leads being greeted when they first call? Enthusiastically? Confidently?

Do the people greeting them have a script? Are they executing it? Do they know how to channel inquiries? Do they fumble answering questions when the conversation goes off script?

Breakdowns in any of these areas will affect the close rate.

Preliminary Qualification

Listen to or observe what is happening.

Is the prospect getting a clear, concise and compelling overview of your company’s unique value proposition, product/service lines, and business style?

Is your company getting a clear picture of the prospect’s reason for making contact, specific problems or objectives in reaching out? Is your company getting a clear picture of the prospect’s level of interest, decision timetable and decision-making team members and influencers?

Breakdowns in any of these areas will affect the close rate.

Related Article: What's In Our Sales Toolbox? The Essential Prospecting and Management Tools

Closing

Listen to or observe what is happening.

Are all necessary decision-makers being included in the conversation? Are all of the prospect’s concerns and objectives being addressed? Is your offer aligned with the prospect’s problems or objectives? Is the proposal reasonable?

Does the proposal offer sufficient motivation for the prospect to act? Does the proposal make it easy for the prospect to say yes? Is your representative asking for the order?

Breakdowns in any of these areas will affect the close rate.

The more time a sales leader spends on a computer, the less time he/she has to investigate all the areas listed above.

No matter whether the data points to a 50 percent close rate or zero close rate, if these areas are not monitored and continuously improved, your close rate will never be as good as it could be. When sales leaders review the follow-up process from top to bottom, huge strides will be made—guaranteed.

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