Do you know your numbers? Part 1, “@#$% Leads”

Having been in sales and marketing for the last 20 years I’ve always had this aversion to the thought that sales and marketing were number games. It just seemed to me that to treat people like numbers was wrong. And then when I was not making sales, I was just a number to the managers. As I became a sales manager, the numbers started making sense and until I really got into the “Numbers Game” did I become a Director of Marketing and later a business owner. I fought the “Numbers Game” for a long time and until I relented did I “grow” in the sales and marketing INDUSTRY.

At this point I need to let you know that I do not see sales and marketing as a numbers game so stick with me here.

When focused on the numbers only, then sales and marketing does become an industry.

Industry: the aggregate of manufacturing or technically productive enterprises in a particular field, often named after its principal product: the automobile industry; the steel industry.
Here is the turn. Sales and marketing as an “industry” is well deserved of many of the negative connotations it has earned. However, as many sales managers will tell you, it works. The turn for me was when I was taught how to use the numbers. By learning this, I was able to return to and focus on sales and marketing as a Fun/People Industry. This still requires numbers and they vary from product to product and method to method. The difference is in the questions asked and processes adjusted after each group of numbers is gathered. Most sales people see this or something like it and if not, they should:

1000 leads/prospects = 180 contacts = 30 engagements = 15 qualifiers = 10 closed sales.

In the people business you must ask questions beyond the numbers and here we are going to focus on leads/prospects for this first part of this series. This seems to be where most of the blame is placed when the “numbers” are not being met.

“These leads suck!” “These are crap leads!”

Leads come from many places and its very important to track where each lead originated. Did this 1000 leads come from a purchased list or RFI (request for information)? Are the leads being pushed to the sales team 30 days old, 5 days, 24 hours, real-time? Do these leads have recognition of your business? Is there a business relationship? I can go on and on, but you get the gist.

Naturally a purchased list is going to be more difficult to work than real-time RFIs. This is why a purchased list is much cheaper up front than building an RFI process, set up marketing around the RFI, CRM integration and management as well as the distribution of the RFI leads. On the other hand, you will spend a lot more money and effort over a relatively short period of time by purchasing leads primarily around payroll cost, time, and turnover cost (hiring and training). Most businesses initially do not have financial ability or know how to put this together on the outset and do well to get to that point. So looking at the leads as purchased, means that you have to connect with an unsuspecting prospect, that does not really know you, and if there is an expectation on a purchased list, it is most likely not to do business with you. (Win a Free Xbox, vacation, etc!)

The expectation of the customer is secondary to actually getting a hold of the prospect (lead). Looking at a single lead, do you know when the prospect is by the phone and able to answer? No. If the lead is aged more than 48 hours, is the phone number viable? Mostly, but not always? What does this mean? It means that you must have a method to achieve communication. This does not mean that if they answer your call (door knock, text, etc) that you will have an engagement (2 way communication discussing your offering). Some of the more successful businesses using purchased leads will having something of a campaign set up that offers multiple attempts at various times of the day and evening and limit to a period of time. Example:

9 attempts over 3 days. 1st attempt at 8am, 2nd at 1230pm, 3rd at 630pm. 4th attempt on day 2 at 10am, 5th at 4pm, 6th at 8pm, etc.

Another is referred to as the 4321. 8am, the 4 hours later at noon, the next 3 hours later at 3, then 2 hours at 5 and 1 hour at 6.

(Please note that there are laws regarding when and how you call purchased leads and aggregated leads including Do Not Call laws and hours to legally call which vary from state to state and in some cases various cities.)

This is where most solid sales systems stop, but this is a terrible place to stop…more effective than 1 and done, or no system at all; this is not the pinnacle by far though. Looking at the lead type, age, and when contact was made opens many more doors. Over the course of a couple of thousand leads like the above samples should provide an area of focus as to when the best times to attempt are. Keep taking the pulse as these thing change over time.

So in review, sure numbers are important. However its more important to ask questions about the numbers and drill down than just call the number a number. Also as a sales or marketing person, setting up a system and reviewing the system regularly can save you tremendous effort. You should know, based on the leads alone, when the best time to try is. If you don’t, start tracking now as a little effort now can generate more productive efforts next week even.

Feel free to ask questions and look for my next posting in the series of “Do you know your numbers Part 2, Who is the Prospect”.

-Matt Brewster

  1. #1 by dryfroggy on February 8, 2012 - 5:36 am

    Excellent play on the numbers game Matt. I somehow know exactly what this all means. Think of the sales/marketing goals as a business. As business owners, we must allocate our resources properly, which all boils down to the bottom line, which is all a matter of … THE NUMBERS! But to add a level of respect to the number let’s call it a resource.

    So as a sale/marketing rep, the hours in a day are one of our main resources, the calls/appointments are resources. We must conserve our resources as if we are running a business. Manage our territories like we would our branch office. Leaving nothing to the way side.

    Kim Johnson (Hello:)

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