Imagine if 80 percent of your company’s inventory vanished without a trace. Would there be some accountability on what happened? Then think about what lost sales leads are costing your company. That’s how the article (first of two parts) on p. 5 gets your attention; it outlines a program for managing what traditionally has been the fuzziest part of many distributor operations.
Managing sales leads effectively is tough for any company. But too many distributors have thrown in the towel and instead focused only on what’s in front of them today. As more markets in distribution converge and consolidate, the odds are better that your prospects will be touched early and often with alternatives. Too often opportunities, whether generated by a supplier or internally, are thrown at a salesperson without a formal plan or program for development. It’s no surprise when that list gets lost, if there isn’t a structure to manage the process.
The only way to prevent potential customers from slipping through the cracks is to improve lead management. Do your sales managers know what percentages of leads have been followed up? How much pipeline has been created? What leads are still open or in progress? What are the recent hot leads? How well can a certain salesperson close leads compared to peers?
Distributors who execute on lead development with feedback to their manufacturer partners have seen some great results in gaining market share with specific programs. But it’s like any data. If you don’t have a process to manage and execute, it overwhelms you and disappears. Are there any markets left that are large enough where business just keeps walking through the door?
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