Where Bad Sales Leads Come From and How to Avoid Them

Bad sales leads are not inevitable – yes, it’s true that some sales leads are just not going to be the right fit for your company, not everyone is going to buy from you.

Avoid Getting Bad Sales Leads

Lots of small business owners and sales people complain about not having enough good sales leads, or feel like the sales leads that they have are not good enough. It’s true that not all sales leads are equally promising – some sales prospects are ready to buy immediately; others are less serious about wanting to buy, and others are never going to be a good fit for what you sell. But before you complain about having too many “bad sales leads,” it’s important to give some consideration to where these bad sales leads actually come from.

When we say, “these sales leads are bad,” what do we really mean by this, and how can we avoid getting so many bad sales leads on our to-do lists?

Here are a few of the common causes of bad sales leads:

Not Asking Lead Qualifying Questions

Many companies make a mistake in dealing with sales leads: they treat all sales leads the same. Every time someone calls or sends an e-mail inquiry, the prospect simply gets passed along to the sales team. If your sales people are getting sales leads that have not been pre-qualified by asking questions to find out more about the sales prospects, you are going to end up with lots of bad sales leads. If you don’t have any process in place to ask lead qualifying questions upfront, and start to sort and rank your sales leads based on which ones are the best priority and fit, then you’re going to end up with a lot of clutter and noise, and your sales people will be frustrated by having too many “bad sales leads.”

Asking the Wrong Lead Qualifying Questions

Some companies ask lead qualifying questions, but they’re asking the wrong ones. The sales person will be on the phone with the prospect, saying things like, “Do you already have a budget for this purchase?” or “Are you definitely ready to buy a new solution this year?” These questions are too direct and have the effect of putting pressure on the customer, causing them to become defensive and shut down the conversation. Also, if you ask too many “yes/no” closed-ended questions, the customer might not elaborate any further, and you will miss a chance to uncover additional information and learn more about the customer.

Not Following Up Promptly

Another mistake that many companies make is failing to follow up promptly with new sales leads. For example, you might get online inquiries or e-mail inquiries that get routed to an automated reply system. Automated replies can be helpful, but most sales leads want to hear from you soon – and want to hear from a real person. Especially when buyers are highly motivated and want to make a decision quickly, they are probably contacting multiple vendors/suppliers (in addition to your company) and so if you don’t get on the phone to talk to them, they’ll probably be on the phone with your competitors. If you don’t follow up with sales leads within 24 hours, you might find that you’re only left with “bad sales leads.”

Bad sales leads are not inevitable – yes, it’s true that some sales leads are just not going to be the right fit for your company, not everyone is going to buy from you. But most sales leads can offer significant sales potential if you know how to manage them correctly. Ask lead qualifying questions. Follow up. Work through your sales process by building relationships and building trust. Stop complaining about “bad sales leads” and spend more time building “good lead qualification processes.”

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