Potato ChipDoctors tell us to have a diet of nutritional foods that are low in calories. Instead, many of us tend to eat foods that taste great but have little nutritional value – potato chips as an example.

We then wonder why we’re not hitting our weight goals. Potato chips are “empty calories”. That is, the calories we consume from potato chips provide minimum value. Can leads be have “empty calories” as well?

I once worked with a company who got a huge amount of inbound leads a month and yet they were starving for more.

The problem wasn’t lead flow. The problem was the “nutritional value” of their leads. They simply were not high quality leads. The definition of a qualified lead was not determined, the lead generation team sent just about anyone who feigned an interest as a lead to sales then watched as sales productivity and sales revenue took a nose dive.

Lead quality has been at the center of the “marketing vs. sales” debate forever. “More leads” isn’t the answer to your sales problem – just like eating more junk food isn’t the answer to poor diet. Potato chips are satisfying and lots of leads make us feel we’re accomplishing something, but neither get us to our ultimate goals.

The key to more effective lead generation programs is determining what a qualified lead is, continually monitoring the metrics of those leads to be sure you have the right programs generating interest, and that the quality leads are being followed up on and moving through the sales process and so on.

The more that poor quality leads make their way through to Sales, the less productive salespeople will be.

But what if salespeople don’t have enough quality prospects to talk with? Shouldn’t they pick up the phone and start calling?

Not necessarily. Lead Generation and selling require somewhat different skill sets.

In Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, author Brian Carroll says “Salespeople, it seems, usually do not have the skills or personalities to be teleprospectors, nor is it cost effective for them to spend all of their time on the phone prospecting.”

Carroll further states “To use phoning as an effective lead generation strategy, consider creating a specialized lead generation function within the sales group, or outsource the task to a company expert in lead generation”

It was Mr. Carroll who created the term “Sales-ready lead”. He makes a distinction between an inquiry and a lead. Inquiries are not leads. An inquiry is an interested party who has requested information or needs some level of assistance.

A lead on the other-hand, is someone who has expressed interest and also is seeking a solution to a problem. In other words, leads are not just food, they’re food with substance.

And that difference is key to understanding why the company who received a huge amount of leads a month is left feeling hungry for more. They weren’t really receiving leads, they were receiving inquiries and salespeople don’t get a lot of nutrition from inquiries.

Sources: “Lead Generation for the Complex Sale” By Brian Carroll

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Gail A. Froelicher is Founder, CEO and PathFinder of Kinetic Insights, LLC. For over 11 years, Gail and her team of PathFinders have journeyed with their customers to forge successful paths in rapidly changing business environments.

Gail A. Froelicher, CEO and Founder of Kinetic Insights, is an experienced executive with a proven and consistent record of established and emerging technology businesses. Throughout her 30 year career she has been successful in key leadership positions by motivating and developing teams that stress quality, integrity and respect for associates and business partners. View full bio