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Mike DamphousseMike

Green Leads' Founder, CEO and CMO, Mike Damphousse, writes frequently about b2b marketing, demand generation, appointment setting, lead gen, and marketing in general.

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Lead Gen Strategies: Sales People Should Be Selling, NOT Prospecting


This past week a prospect commented that she wanted to explore a third-party lead gen program because their sales reps were spending too much time prospecting and not selling.  She said that if they had enough leads they would be SELLING and CLOSING -- not having to do lead gen.

How many sales reps are caught in the prospecting grind and not closing?  Sounded like a LinkedIn Poll to me.

Lead Gen Strategies

The results seem to make sense, right?  About half the people spend somewhere between one and two days a week doing lead gen. 

Wrong.  If I'm a salesperson who knows how to sell and close, why on earth would I be wasting up to half of my time doing lead gen?  

Salespeople should spend their time on activities that result in more revenue: 

  • Talking to prospects
  • Building rapport
  • Handling issues
  • Putting proposals together
  • Negotiating and closing 

All of these activities require prospects, and prospects start from leads, mind you.  But salespeople shouldn't be the ones generating the leads. Inside sales teams, outsourced lead gen companies and other lead gen techniques that marketing or sales operations can run should be on the top of chosen lead gen strategies.

This is my desired curve.  What is yours?

Lead Gen Strategies



Maybe that sounds right, but since I am a company of ONE, I seem to have trouble delegating the lead gen job. Oh I guess I could hire it done, and be flooded with leads that I would not be able to keep up with, then what? Maybe I am reading the wrong blog.
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 10:46 PM by Doug Miller
It may seem that a one man sales shop wouldn't consider delegating or outsourcing lead gen, but we have several clients that are in that situation. They aren't our largest clients, but they are steady. We have one Marketing Services client that gets one appointment per week. His close rate is such that that keeps his pipeline full.  
Just options. But the message is that if you are at your best selling. Then sell. Don't do lead gen.
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 10:53 PM by Michael Damphousse
Well, I stand corrected. Maybe you have a better approach to lead gen than I have seen before. What are the options that might help me?
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 11:31 PM by Doug Miller
Mike, I'm going to have to quote you on this one, "But salespeople shouldn't be the ones generating the leads. Inside sales teams, outsourced lead gen companies and other lead gen techniques that marketing or sales operations can run should be on the top of chosen lead gen strategies." 
Spot on! It is very difficult to recruit, retain and continuously train strong consultative salespeople who can really qualify, develop and deliver customized proposals/demonstrations, handle objections and close.  
To a certain extent, some of these skills are needed to identify a good prospect and set appoointments. But, usually, someone who is interested and strong at dialing at high volumes, handling rejection from hang-ups and getting through gatekeepers is not the same person that is great at the later stage sales steps.  
To Doug & Mike,  
When I was a 2 person shop, I tried outsourcing lead gen to an appt setting firm and found it an expensive thing to figure out. The first job of any solopreneur is to generate demand for their product/services. If they can't do it, it's going to be difficult to outsource. I learned that the hard way. In my experience, the two most common ways a solopreneur builds their business is a) networking and ultimately referrals from happy clients and b) inbound marketing for lead generation through their website.  
(Without knowing the full story)... I'd argue that any marketing services company that isn't practicing inbound marketing/inbound lead generation stopped studying their own discipline about a decade ago.  
Here's a humorous marketing video about it.  
Posted @ Thursday, December 03, 2009 6:54 AM by peter caputa
I guess to get deeper in discussion about this data and it's meaning/implications, we really need to understand what is a "sales rep?" And while we are at it, how do we define "selling?" I like the way the Pragmatic framework deals with the delineation of the sales (and marketing) process: one to many and one to one. That is, a separation in the duties and responsibilities of those that engage prospects/leads one to many (lead generation) and one to one (sales).
Posted @ Thursday, December 03, 2009 8:17 AM by Peter Eggleston
I agree that Sales Reps should not solely be responsible for lead generation- I make a living ensuring they are not, but I don't think that doing lead generation is "a waste of time." When you are prospecting, you should be doing research to build and support your value proposition. No one wants to buy from someone that hasn't taken the time to educate themselves about their business. You have to earn the right to "sell" (aka engage in a meaningful dialogue) to someone....
Posted @ Thursday, December 03, 2009 10:15 AM by Stephanie Richman
I agree with @petercaputa that inbound marketing will help with lead generation, but for one person to a good job at inbound marketing and sales is a tall order. It's really a full-time job in itself, as is sales. I guess by extension, you really need a minimum of 2 people in a lead gen/sales team. Then of course you need one or more product/services folks and a bean counter. Hmmm. Doesn't look good for a one-person shop!
Posted @ Thursday, December 03, 2009 11:29 AM by John McTigue
The ultimate goal is for a sales person to be selling, face to face or over the phone. If that's what they are best at, then that's what they should be doing.  
So the question we should ask ourselves, be it a larger organization or a one man shop, is "how to maximize that selling activity?" 
If in a perfect world a sales person should be selling and not prospecting, then strive for it.  
Inbound marketing, outbound marketing, inside teams, outsourced vendors, qualified lead gen or appointment setting. The ultimate goal is to get the sales rep engaged with the prospect.
Posted @ Thursday, December 03, 2009 11:38 AM by Michael Damphousse
I think I'm an accomplished, professional sales exec - in my career, I've never worked for a company that had a marketing or lead gen program that delivered any significant number of leads. 
I've found that to be successful as a quota carrying salesperson, I have to devote my time in the following order and priority: 
1) Prospecting for new clients 
2) Working the elements of a pipeline deal to move it along 
3) Working to close a pipeline deal 
If I prioritize in that order, I avoid the "roller coaster" effect of not having enough valid deals to work and close. 
In transactional, short sales- cycle, 1-2 call close, deals a lead gen program may be effective. I've not experienced any success with these programs in a complex strategic sale transaction.
Posted @ Friday, December 04, 2009 9:20 AM by Keith Dukes
Sorry for the bolding in my post. I tried to get fancy to bold tag the word "never". Guess I neglected to indicate to stop the bolding.
Posted @ Friday, December 04, 2009 9:23 AM by Keith Dukes
Your last point about lead gen not being effective in a complex sales transaction is one I have to challenge. 
The comment came in as I was having coffee with a sales rep from a billion dollar software company with 12 month sales cycles. He's a client and was in Boston for an appointment we set him and he wanted to stop by and review his program while he was in town. I showed him the comment and asked what he thought and what his mix is.  
His answer: 
- He does NO prospecting other than networking and referrals 
- He has an inside sales partner who handles inbound leads and other marketing generated leads, nurtures them and filters out the best for pursuit...then pursues 
- He has Green Leads mining his target accounts with outbound activity, breaking doors down, and setting appointments with C/VP/Dir level prospect executives. 
In his words, all three activities generated about equal amounts of pipeline activity for him last year - referrals and ex-clients being slightly in the lead. He also confirmed one part of my thesis. The best use of his time is talking with, selling to, negotiating with and closing deals.  
With that, he hopped in his zipcar and headed to his appointment. 
There is a program for every situation. Internal, external, inbound or outbound. Good Selling!
Posted @ Friday, December 04, 2009 3:21 PM by Michael Damphousse
I Hope Now a days things are going online only. so better we go for some online leads for our business for that email marketing will help a lot.. I totally agree with this article.
Posted @ Monday, February 07, 2011 3:07 AM by Oracle Users List
Nice blog for sales people too!  
It can be too easy for a salesperson to fall into a trap of doing "busy work" instead of what they should be doing - "SELLING"!
Posted @ Monday, June 20, 2011 12:33 PM by Michael Thompson
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