Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Qualified Leads

I was in a sales meeting last week, and one of the managers started exhorting the marketing liaison about not having enough “qualified leads.” I’ve heard that many times before, but this time I started thinking about “qualified leads” and the role of the salesperson.

People buy on emotion and justify with reasons. The primary benefit of a live sales person is to create the emotion that begins the sale. That doesn’t necessarily create an immediate sale, and I had an “aha” moment last year when I had lunches with two of my previous technical partners.

They both said that most of their current business was coming from people we met when we first started our territories many years ago…and that the current sales people weren’t seeing many new people. They were stretching their account administration duties to fill the month, averaging five to eight external meetings.

I make major sales and aim to have 20 meetings a month. First meetings, second meetings, group meetings, abject apologies, project resets, completion celebrations, I don’t care. They are all an opportunity to open more business.
I once had a marketing person ask, “But are they good meetings?”

I asked her, “Have you ever had to create twenty external meetings a month? I’ll take anything!”

“Good meetings” come from our ability to interest others in what we are doing and the total number of attempts. I don’t expect every prospect meeting to generate immediate business, but I have seen them create multimillion dollar projects, referrals to interested prospects, ideas for how to better explain what I am doing, and acquaintances who forward the sale for me when I’m not there.

Then I had one manager who said, “So you’re not interested in closing.” I was stunned. That’s another meeting, and knowing what people want makes it an easy as well as profitable meeting!

It seems to me that salespeople (and managers) who focus on “closing” have a harder life, since the customer defines the close. By focusing on opening, I spend more time doing things that turn into sales.
BTW, I define “closing” thusly: A close occurs each time the customer asks you to do something.

What do you think?