Most salespeople are familiar with the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross. In it, good ol’ sales leads are given an especially prominent role. Salespeople fight over them, especially the good ones. They aren’t happy when they don’t receive them. (Also, coffee is for closers… but that’s another topic for another time.) After viewing the movie, you might think that sales leads are the golden ticket to more sales and that more leads equal more sales.

I’m here to tell you that you don’t necessarily need more leads in B2B sales. In fact, studies show that only 27% of leads are ever contacted. So more leads may simply result in more waste.

What you really need is more quality conversations. Not with just anyone who will take a phone call; you need to speak with key decision makers who are trying to solve a business challenge that you solve. If you just focus on ‘more leads’, you miss the important part: converting the leads you already have.

Sales Leads: The Research

Here at FRONTLINE Selling, we’ve conducted almost two million outbound prospecting calls over 15 years to companies for both our own sales efforts and for companies that hire us to conduct outbound sales campaigns for them. We also train our clients’ salespeople on how to make such calls themselves.

Here are 2 critical discoveries:

  1. Lead lists are inherently inaccurate. Often, they’re 20% to 40% inaccurate. That statistic right there should take the bloom off the rose for you for any “I need more leads!!” thinking you may have.
  2. The typical sales prospecting approach of bombarding just one targeted key player in a company with calls, voicemails, emails and even social messages just doesn’t work anymore.

Quality Conversations

For each company you are prospecting into, you want to have a quality conversation with either a key player in that organization who has the power to approve what you’re selling or someone who has the power to recommend such a purchase. That’s a no-brainer.

But taking a lead list and just calling each one of them wastes your reps’ time. You can accomplish your objectives by effectively leveraging a contact within an organization to help you reach the right person. How? By using a company’s own formal and informal communication protocols, or what we call the Social DNA of the organization. By using a perfect cadence of calls, emails, and voicemails to various titles in the organization, your message will be routed to the right person based on their established protocols. Essentially, you enable your prospects to spread your message, overcome sales objections, and build awareness for you and your company’s product or service.

For example, the CEO may forward your email to the VP of Marketing, who then forwards it to the Director of Sales, who she believes would be most likely to purchase a product like yours.

It’s like a mini-brand awareness campaign with a target organization.

The key is taking a lead and uncovering all the other possible leads within that company using the Social DNA. Maybe the lead you got isn’t the right decision-maker. What good is it to burn unnecessary cycles on someone who may not even have the budget to buy your product?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that leads are bad. But you can’t simply call a bunch of leads and blame marketing for their perceived lack of quality. It’s more likely that you don’t employ an effective way of converting them to quality conversations.

In addition to creating more sales opportunities, using a company’s Social DNA eliminates that sales/marketing ‘blame game’. Marketing and Sales can live in harmony when leads are converted more easily. Leveraging the Social DNA is the key.

Mike Scher is Co-Founder at FRONTLINE Selling.