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Cold Calling: Balancing lead quantity and quality

Jul 28, 2008
Sales people know there are two critical decisions that must be made before starting a cold calling campaign. How many leads do you need, and how qualified do you need them to be?

While these are two questions, they're really two parts to the same question.

Let's say you start up a telephone prospecting program and ask the caller to refer you to all interested prospects.

It's almost a guarantee that you'll get many more leads if you don't put constraints on how "qualified" these leads are. But, you're also more likely to get tire kickers and individuals who are not serious about purchasing.

On the other hand, when you stipulate that each lead must be fully qualified, your telephone prospecting program is likely to generate fewer opportunities. But, virtually all your leads will be "the right" kind of prospect. Ready to buy!

You see, there is often a trade-off between quantity and quality.

What is a "qualified lead?"

Simply put, a qualified lead is an individual with a near- term need for your product or service, who also has decision making authority and the required budget.

To a lesser degree a qualified lead is someone who may need your product or service in the future and is shopping now.

What kind of lead do you get when you don't apply stringent qualification "constraints?"

Of course, you still will get the qualified leads, but you'll get others, too. Some will turn into sales. Others will turn into future sales. Others may refer you business in the future. Others will amount to nothing. You may have to work harder at selling, because many may not even realize you can help them.

Should every company choose quality over quantity or vice versa?

Every company has its own sales strategy, and should establish a telephone prospecting campaign to fit this strategy.

You probably want to accept only highly qualified leads if: you want immediate revenue, your product or service is simple to describe on the phone, the decision making timeframe for your product or service is short, and/or your sales team cannot dedicate time to relationship building.

You probably want to accept less qualified prospects if: you are entering a new market or geographic area, you want to establish relationships that could result in future sales or referrals, your sales team has available time, the decision making timeframe for your product or service is lengthy and/or you have a product or service that is not quite so easy to describe in a 15 minute phone conversation, or requires technical knowledge a cold caller may not have.

Here are two Case Studies from VSA's prospecting experience:

Company A: Willing to meet anyone

One of our clients, in the commercial property improvement business, wanted us to forward anyone who expressed interest in a face to face meeting. This company felt prospects who wanted to talk about their product were worth the time investment.

This company was entering a new geographic area and needed to develop name recognition, and business relationships.

In the end based on our leads, our client sold several accounts, and developed relationships with many companies who may purchase in the future or refer business.

Company B: Wanted appointments with qualified prospects only

Another client, also in the commercial property improvement business, wanted a completely different strategy. This company wanted us to forward only very qualified leads.

This company was already established in its target geographic area, and employed a small sales team. The reputation was extremely positive. This sales team wanted to focus on leads that could convert to immediate sales.

In the end based on our leads, we helped this client generate sales and revenue, without wasting the sales team's time on leads with little likelihood of closing soon.
About the Author
Visit Valerie Schlitt's site for information on business to business prospecting and telemarketing programs.
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