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How Companies Waste Leads

How Companies Waste Leads

By: Patty Azzarello, president, Azzarello Group

Big Help for Small Business: How Companies Waste Leads

I have worked with many different sized companies and one of the universal truths I have seen is that sales people basically hate leads that are generated by marketing.

Unless of course, the prospect has money that he will lose if he doesn’t spend it today, and he is calling you to place an order.

Sales people only like HOT leads.

I don’t say this to take a shot at sales people. Effective sales people do a heroic job of cultivating their own business, and getting their own leads based on referrals.

Warm or cool leads generated by marketing by comparison are viewed as “action items”, which get in the way of developing the business they are working on.

So why bother generating leads?

If you are in the marketing role, generating leads is built into the DNA of your job description. It’s also makes for a clear measurement: how many leads did you generate and how much did it cost?

The basic goal is to spend the right amount of money and generate high quality leads that sales people use and turn into business.

The real goal is to leverage that same marketing investment to generate more HOT leads.

I have seen two basic practices make a huge difference.

Don’t Throw Away Warm Leads

This is one of the most well studied and most ignored marketing practices.

Companies spend money to generate leads and have a process to qualify them. The HOT leads get worked on and the rest get thrown away. Then you do another marketing program to get a whole new crop of leads, work the new HOT ones, and throw the rest away….

This is very expensive and also, it is well proven that the few hot leads have far less value long term than the warm and cool, but qualified ones.

For starters, the warm and qualified cool list is a much larger list. And people who expressed interest once are way more likely to buy eventually, then a brand new crop of leads from your next marketing program.

Keep building your warm list and keep marketing to them. You will get more HOT leads coming out of that group over time than from your new campaigns alone. And they will be even HOTTER because they will have a longer term familiarity with you as you’ve been consistently marketing to them.

Actually Use Your CRM System

So many companies’ CRM system becomes a “write only” database for leads. The information in it gets stale and out of date because it is not used as a day-to-day tool for developing business.

One time I investigated the leads that were in stage one in a CRM system, and in a fit of honesty from all involved, I got some real answers.

• A small percentage of the stage one leads were being worked by sales people who had qualified them and moved them to stage one. This was the minority.

• Some leads were there because the sales people were getting measured on qualifying leads, so they just moved them to stage one to meet their objective then ignored them.

• Some leads were there because they were in later stages, but no one updated them in the system.

• Some leads were there because the sales rep left the company and they were never reassigned.

• Some leads were there because the sales rep thought THEY had generated the lead, not marketing, so they entered a duplicate that they would get credit for directly.

• Some leads were there because they were actually not qualified, but no one closed them out.

You get the picture.

The way around this is to actually use your CRM system.

Sales teams have weekly business or revenue review meetings. The most effective sales teams also have lead review meetings.

Imagine each week, if every sales team was looking at their assigned leads in the CRM system and every sales rep had to report on progress on each and every lead that was assigned to him.

This is not just about forcing sales to use the system, so everyone can have a nice neat system.

This is about developing business and making sales. This is how the sales team turns warm leads into HOT leads and then closes the business. This works.

The more focus sales teams have on the development of leads the more business they get.


Marketing will always generate leads and sales will always prefer their own leads.

The two most impactful ways to make the most of your investment in leads is to build a marketing database and continue to market to you warm leads to create more HOT leads, and to build a sales management process specifically around lead review.

You will be maximizing your investment in marketing and closing more business.

Patty Azzarello became the youngest general manager at Hewlett Packard ever at the age of 33. She ran a $1B global software business at the age of 35, and became a CEO for the first time at the age of 38. A few of her roles were the VP and General Manager of HP OpenView, CEO of Euclid Software, and Chief Marketing Officer for Siebel Systems.

Patty is the CEO of Azzarello Group, a unique services organization focused on helping business leaders actually get done what they want to do, and get a bigger payoff from their hard work. Azzarello Group delivers practical, experience-based tools to business leaders, through products and services including articles, e-books, 1-1 coaching, public speaking, and business execution workshops.

More Azzarello Group resources at:

[Photo courtesy of papersave.]