Not too long ago, before the advent of social selling, if a salesperson needed to add new opportunities to the pipeline, there were basically two options:
- Make cold calls; or
- Call existing customers for referrals and introductions.
Interestingly, this choice was not a no-brainer! I observed that for every three salespeople who would call customers for referrals, there were always two who preferred to make cold calls. This was not because they loved making cold calls, but because in their minds, it was a more comfortable option for them than asking for something from customers.
Of course, things are quite different today. Most salespeople are the beneficiaries of a nice supply of leads from their company's marketing, advertising and online efforts. I typed that "things are quite different", but is that the same thing as, "things are quite better"?
I don't know about you and your leads, but a lot of the "leads" I see aren't very good at all. They're actually more like names with email addresses and a good percentage of them can't really be considered leads at all. But because a small percentage of them turn out to be really good ones, all of them must be followed-up. One can't distinguish the good from the bad until the follow-up calls have been made.
With salespeople so busy, following-up on mostly crappy leads, they probably don't even give a thought to calling customers and asking for referrals. Suppose I was given the option to phone one of two leads:
- A potentially crappy internet lead where the form was completed by the assistant of a branch sales manager or
- An introduction from an existing client to the CEO of a growing mid-market technology firm who expressed interest in getting our help.
I know who I would rather call...
I know all the statistics about lead follow-up. If you don't place a follow-up call within the first 10 minutes, your chances of connecting decrease by...I know. I also know that it takes 8-15 attempts to reach one of those leads...
We all know that the introduction beats the crap out of the lead follow-up 95 times out of 100. If that's the case, why are so many salespeople spending all of their time attempting to generate and follow-up on the leads that produce results 5 times out of 100?
If you've been reading my blog for the past 8 years, then you know that according to Objective Management Group (OMG), 74% of all salespeople are ineffective. So we already had this huge class of sucky salespeople and now, with leads making life so easy for most salespeople, we have created a new class of sucky salespeople who are also lazy.
Have your salespeople pretend it's 1985. Have them each call 5 customers or clients every day for the rest of the month and ask for referrals and introductions. If they don't do it, shame on them. If they don't know how to do it effectively, shame on you.
Image: Chin Kit Sen via Shutterstock