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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?


  1. "Closing" is sales management short termism.

    Developing relationships leads to long term success.

  2. Wow!
    Once again Comments are the bigger value!
    Thank you!

    Years ago Bill also said, "Sales Management is life in Covey's quadrant three, Urgent/Not Important"

  3. Ever have a meeting and later get a call from one of the people in the meeting that went to another company? I have. Sell yourself and then sell your solution.

  4. Alex George from TFCN posted "The Leads" from Glengarry Glenross" Hilarious!
    Thanks Alex. Yeah, that's what I'm talking about!

  5. My experience has been in companies that measure success in revenue and the input to success in terms of activity. I have seen targets of up to twenty contacts (face-to-face) per week and I also vividly rememeber one CEO chiding a person who responded to his question "How was the meeting" and the response was "It was a good meeting" by syaing the only good meeting is one when you walk away with an order. Leads, activity, sales management, pipelines, etc. are nothing but tools in creating wealth. Sucessful sales people are good, lucky and have down performance times. Then they move on to thier next success - I have never met a good sales person who did not measure success in dollars.

  6. Success can be measured in dollars, but there are other measures as well. A salesperson who ONLY measures success in dollars may likely become frustrated over time. Those salespeople risk falling victim to "make every call a 'closing call.'" When that happens, opportunities will go sailing over their heads, unnoticed. I know from painful experience.

    That said, a successful salesperson must ENJOY making money. But I think that occurs more easily when money is not a salesperson's only focus.

    Dick--great post. A great salesperson might create emotion, but more often, he or she is a master of finding it, magnifying it, and channeling it toward a sale.

  7. Chuck has a strong point. But it sends me to to ol' Abe Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs." After we have sufficient money, we play other games. How else do you explain senators?

    I think Linus Torvalds is a master salesman, but focus on his own money would have been an impediment to his success.

  8. Dick,

    The right activity leads to productivity. I thnk understanding how you can help others accoplish their goals will lead to you reaching yours. It woeks all the time.

  9. Great topic I love the purpose of the sales person."The primary benefit of a live sales person is to create the emotion that begins the sale." How many sales people would agree with that?

  10. Dick - Thanks for reminding me again of the definition of "closing".

    Redstick Marketing