How to Stop Losing Deals at the Front End of the Sales Funnel

By EyesOnSales:

What if I told you that your B2B sales organization was losing lots of good sales opportunities before they even had come in the door? Many B2B sales teams focus on getting more sales leads and closing deals, but they don’t pay enough attention to what happens with the new inbound sales leads that are already making contact with the company. This is a big mistake that is surprisingly costly, but also surprisingly easy to fix! The answer: your company needs to get better at qualifying your inbound sales leads.

According to statistics from Hubspot, the problem of neglecting to qualify new sales leads is surprisingly widespread:

  • Only 56% of B2B sales organizations make any effort to verify valid business leads before passing the leads on to Sales.
  • 61% of B2B organizations send all new leads directly to the Sales team, but only 27% of these leads are actually qualified.
  • 79% of B2B marketers have no established process for scoring or ranking their new leads.

This is insane, right? After all, B2B companies spend lots of money on advertising and marketing and lead generation to find new prospects and motivate new prospective customers to call. But once they get these new prospects on the phone or start to receive email inquiries, many B2B companies are just acting bizarrely passive – by being indiscriminate in waving all new leads through to the sales team, they’re letting good leads get buried in clutter and letting other good leads fall through the cracks.

Here’s what your company should do instead:

Create a Consistent Intake Process

What happens when a new prospective customer calls or contacts your company for the first time? Who answers the phone and what do they say? Many companies don’t have a standard process in place, and this is a mistake. You need to have a clear order of steps to bring a new lead into the company – starting with that first phone conversation or email exchange. For example, is your receptionist trained in how to talk to new sales leads? They often need more careful handling than just a random everyday phone conversation. Do you have a standard email to send in response to new inquiries, with a simple intake questionnaire and sales literature to share with the new prospect? And do you have a tracking system in place to formally start to take notes on the customer relationship? All of these things need to be in place to start getting the most out of your sales leads.

Ask Pre-Qualifying Questions

When you get contacted by a new prospect, you need to start learning about them and asking good questions to uncover their needs and pain points. For example:

  • Why did you decide to contact us?
  • What are some of the issues you’re experiencing with your current solution or vendor?
  • How soon do you think you might want to make a purchase decision?

These three questions are simple, but open-ended – they will help you uncover more details about your prospect, their business needs, and their level of urgency to buy.

Rank Your Sales Leads

Not all sales leads are the same. Some people are very eager to buy and are already well-informed about your solutions; others are not very serious buyers or are just beginning to do research and kick the tires on a new purchase. Your pre-qualifying stage needs to help give you some insights into which leads are which, and then rank and sort them accordingly. Rank your leads on a simple basis of priority – such as “A, B, and C.” Then you can follow up with the A leads first, and leave the lower-priority leads for longer-term lead nurturing and follow-up.

Don’t overwhelm your sales team with a deluge of unsorted sales leads: this creates clutter and wastes time, because sales people get stuck chasing too many bad leads and missing out on the good ones. With that in mind, by conducting careful lead qualifying and ranking, your B2B sales organization can get better at identifying the most promising business opportunities and focusing your effort in the right places – and this will help you achieve better sales results.