Leads can take you up the garden path.

It sounds great - you have hundreds of new sales leads delivered to you via a new partner. Your partner is a big bold player with a strong brand and excellent recognition across a broad customer base. Maybe a little too broad - you are a niche player and you have a ground-breaking product built to complement their mainstream consumer offering, but only for certain customers.

The challenge is that for technical, cost and regulatory reasons, the solution is only suitable for use by a very small segment of your partner’s customer base - and most of them don’t realise that!

We found ourselves in this position with a client company a while back and had to quickly come up with a method to qualify and filter the leads so that only 'hot' ones were presented to the small sales team to follow up. The less qualified leads, the ones that couldn’t afford or use the solution, had to be let down gently and given an explanation of why this was not for them.

The deluge of lead data was coming from a web-to-lead form on the partner’s website, which was exported from the partner’s Salesforce instance on a daily basis. Our client’s CRM system was not optimised for lead management so it was important to set up a specific Salesforce instance to do the lead management for this particular initiative. By categorising and filtering the data into tiers, daily mailing lists were created to provide additional information to all interested leads, with special emphasis on the messaging used for the colder leads that we were “letting down” without compromising their relationship with the big bold partner.

Several thousand self-registered leads were filtered to real sales opportunities which were then allocated to the relevant sales managers for follow up. We were also able to create a real-time dashboard to keep the partner informed of progress. The final result didn't look particularly positive with less than 50 sales resulted from the self registered leads, but we learned some valuable lessons.

Thousands of leads are not always a good thing!

  • Build some qualification questions into lead capture forms, use them to help the leads 'decide for themselves' whether to proceed.
  • Use a system that works, not necessarily the one that is in place already.
  • Let down your cold leads gently - give them information that lets them draw their own conclusions.

With a different approach - you never know where it might lead (.........urgh! Sorry!)

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