The process of identifying and adding new names to the list of potential customers with an aim of selling products or services is known as Lead Generation. It is the most critical activity which any business can engage in. However owing to two reasons it remains the most disregarded one.
Those two reasons are –
1) Most of Businesses, successful or otherwise, are able to generate a steady flow of leads, even without managers noticing it. Most of these leads are generated through old legacy sources.
2) Lead Generation being the first of many activities in Sales Process and farthest from generating results Managers somehow don't think it's important.
All businesses go through ups and downs. But very few Managers look at those swings as a process problem and are ready to own those results. Instead, most of the times attempts are made to show bad results as just another passing phase and picture is painted that things will be back to ‘Normal’ soon. Most of big Medium and Big companies have Review mechanisms, even then problem identification remains a tough task. Reason being, most of the introspection and/or reviews happen at superficial levels. Only when sales dry up and chips are down, Managers dig deep. And only a few amongst those few go down to the level of checking the source of it all - Lead Generation activity.
Actually on deeper analysis Managers would discover that none can impact Sales the way Lead Generation can. And sales are down either due to lesser inquires or fewer walk-ins or fewer people visiting the website.
This happens as most of the businesses a get huge chunk of Leads from one or two legacy sources. This makes them dependent on those few sources and that’s dangerous. Because if one those sources stop working it affects the whole Sales Pipeline badly. And eventually the Sales revenue goes down. At times when a slowdown is experienced, it’s blamed on Middle Managers or attributed to market conditions or ascribed to entrance of a new player in the market. While all or any of these factors may have bearing on Sales none of them can be controlled easily. Actually on deeper analysis Managers would discover that none can impact Sales the way Lead Generation can. And sales are down either due to lesser inquires or fewer walk-ins or fewer people visiting the website.
I guess after any such logical analysis most of us will be convinced that Lead Generation is a critical activity. So why do sales leaders miss upon such an elementary activity? Well there are many reasons. Topmost being changes in priorities. What does that mean?
Let me explain through an example. Around a decade back, when I was very new to Team Management role, I was assigned a task of starting Sales Ops afresh in a new city. I was given a team of 12 Sales persons. I knew very well that at the start that team needed Names and Tele-numbers of people from this city. Hence initially majority of my team’s time and resources were used for Lead Generation. In a month or so most of team members had some success in enlisting prospective names of individuals. And some of the aggressive and smart Sales chaps from my team started customer acquisition quickly. Few who were not as aggressive also picked up the trick a bit late, also adapted in a while and sales started rolling. That quarter went very well and things were looking great.
Next quarter also began nicely and we had one of the biggest milestones in sight.
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Surprisingly somewhere in the middle of the 2nd quarter things started slowing down. Only few members were able to acquire new customers, but many were struggling. On questioning and checking their sales pipeline most of them tried to ‘Normalize’ the situation by showing me a healthy prospect list. After a week or so when things continued in same manner, (When guided by my supervisor) I started inspecting the Suspects list and Lead Generation activity log. To my shock, the Lead Generation activity had almost stopped. And most of them were working on old Prospects, who were nurtured out of Lead Generation activity done initially. These prospects for some reason had lost interest, but due to proximity or something else did not communicate same to our man.
To correct the situation I implemented a two pronged strategy. Those who were doing well and had a healthy Sales Pipeline were allowed to concentrate more on Closing. But those who were struggling were taken back to Lead Generation; which helped me to close the quarter on a high.
Hope this blog helps readers understand the criticality of Lead Generation for consistent Sales performance. My next blog will take you through the topic of from where and how Leads can be generated.