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Don’t Let Your Leads Fall Into a Black Hole

Don’t Let Your Leads Fall Into a Black Hole

Brian Gardner No Comment

Where do you get your leads from, and how do you know they are qualified?

Leads are the start of the sales cycle. They are part of what I call the front end of the sales process (along with opportunities). A lead is a broadly defined term that includes potential customers that may have shown interest in your products and services. Key word here is interest. At this stage, the lead is not yet qualified. You may refer to them as prospects.

For many industrial reps and distributors, leads are funneled to them through manufacturers, usually collected at trade shows or online. Some distributors and reps have implemented their own online lead generation strategies, but this is typically the exception rather than the rule.

The problem: Most of these leads haven’t been qualified. So many times leads are essentially falling into a black hole. So before handing that lead off to the salesperson, it’s in the distributor’s best interest to vet it.

So what’s your process for doing so? I know it’s a cost, but you don’t want your highly paid outside salespeople spending time on non-qualified leads. And consider this: Leads you put into your sales funnel can increase or decrease the chances for sales success down the line.

In a perfect world, leads from a supplier would be qualified before arriving on the distributor’s doorstep. But if they aren’t being qualified, implement a process to do some even base-level qualification.

You could hire a student who is interested in industrial sales and has an aptitude for this. Let them make some low-level phone calls and manage an Excel spreadsheet (if you don’t have a CRM system) with the leads for a couple of hours a day. Or use someone internally who can dedicate a portion of the day to this. Come up with a list of questions to qualify each lead that may include:

  • Why is the person inquiring about your products and services?
  • How did they find out about your company and products?
  • Is there an approved project or funds for your products or services?

Your sales team will appreciate the time and resources spent to qualify the leads, rather than just forwarding every lead and expecting the sales team to take it to the next level. A system that ensures quality on the front end – with qualified leads – will improve the results you see on the back end.


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