Turning salespeople loose on the market and having them bring in all the leads used to work well. Bringing in leads, qualifying them, and following up used to be part of the mandatory skill set of any salesperson.
In today’s world of specialized specialists, this is no longer the efficient option for your company’s money or time.
Your sales team should be selling.
That sounds redundant, but the time involved building the relationship (especially in high dollar areas) and solving the problems of your customers are the most important tasks your team can focus on. How much of your team’s time is taken up hunting leads? How many hours are put into prospects that go nowhere? What if those hours were put into closing the business of prospects who were already a good fit for your service or product AND in a position to purchase?
Salespeople are often some of the highest paid people in the company. This is assuming you are not using a commission only, make-it-or-break-it strategy. If you have your well-paid people to do time-consuming, low-value activities, that makes it difficult to scale your operation without hiring more highly paid people. It is cheaper, easier and more efficient to hire someone to find, then qualify prospects to hand off to your skilled sales people. You could even build in a commission for them when your Sales Team seals the deal to encourage your Lead Generation Team to build lists of quality leads.
Salespeople like selling.
That seems a given since no one stays in that industry who does not enjoy it, at least, a little. It’s too much of an emotional rollercoaster for people who aren’t cut out for it. However, I have never met a salesman or saleswoman who enjoys sorting through leads. It is tedious, time-consuming and there is no surefire way to tell from a sentence or a look if the prospect is a buyer. If they aren’t a buyer, most salespeople consider someone a waste of precious time and resources.
If you do not enjoy doing something, chances are you will not be good at it. It takes an extraordinary amount of self-discipline to practice something you dislike on a good day. There are many great salespeople in the world who are terrible at prospecting. Conversely, millions of people dislike asking for money and most of them would make poor salespeople. Conveniently, there are millions of people who dislike asking for money, but love talking to people. That is the exact type of person you want hunting down and qualifying your leads before they go to the people who do enjoy asking for money.
None of this is to say that your salespeople should NEVER search out leads. Like English grammar, there are exceptions to every rule. Many industries rely on their sales team to bring their contacts with them when they move to a new company. This works. Salesmen are great for high-profile prospects or people who refuse to work with the “underlings.”
There will always be the type of sales that require building a great relationship before the money is put on the table. Give those to your sales team.
But most new business and new markets ought to fall into the hands of your Lead Development Team. The Lead Development Team saves you time by separating the gold from the dirt. They save you money by allowing your Sales Team to focus exclusively on what they are good at. Finally, happy salespeople are just better salespeople. Give them support and they will support you.