Building a Successful Lead-Development Program Part I: The People

If you have read any of my previous posts or heard me talk, then you know how I feel about the importance of building a lead-development team.  But you can’t build a strong lead-development team if you don’t know the distinction between lead qualification and lead development:

  • Lead qualification is the process of taking inbound requests and qualifying them before sending them to sales.
  • Lead development is the process of taking leads attained from avenues such as white papers and convincing registrants to hear more from your organization and then qualifying them.

Today, you may have a lead-qualification team.  If the volume justifies it, keep the lead-qualification team.  However, if you want to succeed with third-party-generated leads (such as white paper or webinar leads), it’s time to build a top-notch lead development team.

There are many aspects to the process. First, let’s concentrate on the people.

Lead development is essentially a sales vehicle, so the people involved in this process have to be able to:

  • Face rejection. Remember, the average third-party white paper converts from 4 percent up to 20 to 30 percent.  That means that a large number of these leads will not convert. Your lead-development reps have to be ready for a healthy amount of rejection.
  • Overcome objections. See above. Just because you’ve been rejected doesn’t mean you should give up.  You’ll likely never receive the response “I want to be sold by You.” A good objection-handling strategy (see below) can help handle these contacts.
  • Be engaging. Nobody buys anything from people they don’t like.  Plain and simple. The core trait of great sales reps is their ability to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do without their realizing it.
  • Dial, Dial, Dial. The best sales development teams manage their reps by output.  Tailor them to your organization, but watch your numbers.  Work backwards from “passed to sales rep.”  How many connections does it take before passing a lead to a sales rep? Ideally one. How many attempts does it take to connect? You need to have quotas, and those making the calls need to be overtly aware of those quotas.

Where do you find these people?

  • The “straight-out-of-college” model. I like this model a lot.  The lead-development team can be a farm team for your sales force.  The key to success here is training, training, training, as well as a real understanding of the “type” of person that will be successful. You need to follow your gut, because they usually lack tangible experience.
  • The “stay-at-home mom and dad” model. This model is hot.  A lot of the outsourced lead-generation vendors are going to this model.  A number of my customers have built rock-solid teams using stay-at-home folks.  The key here is you can get lots of experienced reps.  I do not think this is the best model for low ASP (average sales price) or fast sales-cycle type sales, but more for larger deal size, enterprise type sales.
  • Outsourced. People ask me this all the time: Outsource or in-house?  Outsourcing can work,  but it is not plug and play.  You have to put in the same amount of effort you would if you are building it in-house.  And it won’t work initially, you will need to come out of the gate slowly, but you can make it work over time.

Stay tuned for the next step: Process

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter