Are you chasing too many rabbits?

Don’t waste time chasing after weak sales leads.

One of the challenges of inside sales is dealing with an inbox box flooded with inbound leads. Usually, these leads come about because the Marketing Department sent out a promotional email at a targeted group of prospects.

The email sent out usually has teaser information and a link where someone can click to download a special report or some other information. But there’s a catch – before you can read the information, you must first attend a one-on-one or group webinar or agree to speak with a salesperson over the phone.

Sneaky? Maybe. Effective. That depends.

You see, there’s nothing wrong with receiving inbound leads. Far from it. The problem is distinguishing between good and bad ones.

How do you correctly set priorities before contacting inbound leads?

First, are the inbound leads decision-makers, influencers, or curiosity seekers?

Let’s face it – most decision-makers are not going to download reports because they’re too busy making decisions. That leaves just the influencers and curiosity seekers. So, your first task is to determine which one is which. You can do this quickly by doing research on LinkedIn or a company’s website.

Second, you need to determine what size company (e.g., revenue, employee number) is the best one to contact first.

So true.

Third, but be careful – the company size isn’t always the best determining factor. You also need to ensure if the lead works at a company or organization that would need what you are selling. Are they a good fit?

Fourth, some inbound leads will provide bogus email addresses or phone numbers. Others will leave a generic email address like Gmail in hopes that you can’t find out where he works. Clever, but rarely effective, because you can always check on LinkedIn. And, in some cases, the inbound lead may already be on your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) under the correct company name and email address. You need to look.

If that’s the case, should you waste your time in contacting them? Again, it depends. If you can tell through your research that the lead comes from a hot prospect company that you have been trying to reach for a while, do yourself a favor and use a lead generation tool to uncover the best phone number and email address. Sure, the lead may be surprised that you contacted him. But…he also may be impressed that you were persistent enough to find him.

What you want to avoid is chasing rabbits. But that, I mean you don’t want to waste so much time tracking down every single inbound lead, that you lose sight of targeting high priority ones first.

I know it’s overwhelming to receive a lot of inbound leads simultaneously. But you need to take your time, do your research and take a steady aim.

Better to bag one big rabbit, than no rabbits at all.

How to Avoid the Inbound Sales Lead Trap

Inbound Sales Lead Trap

Be careful that you are not getting trapped with useless inbound sales leads.

It’s always nice to receive inbound leads, especially if you are spending most of your time prospecting for new business.

Inbound leads come in many forms.

For example, someone visits your website and completes a short form to request a download of a report, e-book or some other content.

Or, maybe someone is doing research and requested a salesperson contact them to gather more information.

Or, your marketing department did an email blast promoting a new report, survey or upcoming webinar, and suddenly, your inbox is flooding with leads.

But are inbound leads worth it?

Think about it for a minute. Who is more likely to become an inbound lead? Is it a key decision-maker juggling a hectic schedule, or a low-level employee surfing the web?

In most cases, it’s the latter.

You see if you are indeed a key decision-maker you are probably not going to spend time researching websites or responding to email marketing. Why? Because you are too busy… making decisions.

So, you have an intern, a secretary or a junior employee do your research for you. As a result, before you get too excited about an inbound lead, take the time to find out who you are speaking to before calling that person. Are you contacting an intern or a CEO?

(I know a sales department that spent nearly 15 years contacting the same inbound lead before realizing the person wasn’t serious. The guy just liked talking to salespeople).

LinkedIn, of course, is your best choice for research. A company’s website may also help you.

Inbound sales lead trap

Traps are for animals, not salespeople.

Inbound leads can also help you uncover customers that you didn’t know existed or you would think would not be good candidates. Depending on your industry or the size of your market, it’s usually challenging to discover on your own all the potential customers you need to contact. Thus, email blasts and good marketing content on your website are like fishing lines dangling from a boat with juicy bait waiting for a catch.

What you don’t want to do is fall into the trap of thinking that every inbound lead you receive will be the crucial decision-maker. In 99% of the time, that will not be the case. Instead, view the incoming lead as someone who can open doors for you. Hopefully, that person will be your advocate and shepherd you through the bureaucratic maze of reaching people who will assist you in closing the sale.

Receiving inbound leads is nice. But too much of a good thing could turn into a bad outcome if you are not careful with your time. Don’t be ensnared in doing a lot of busy work contacting the wrong people or developing false hopes of sales that will never close. Instead, view inbound leads for what they are – a way to get your foot into the door for more substantial opportunities, or to unearth hidden gems.

Traps are for animals, not salespeople.

NoteIf you like this post, please read my book  — Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.