Business owners and sales people are always preoccupied with getting more sales leads – whether it’s from online lead generation (email marketing, SEO, PPC ads, etc.) or traditional outbound lead generation tactics like cold-calling and direct mail. Your business needs a constant influx of fresh business leads in order to survive. Your company has invested lots of time and money to find those new sales leads and lay the groundwork for a future sale – sales leads are a valuable commodity.

So even though we all agree that sales leads are valuable and important, why do so many companies treat their sales leads so carelessly? At many companies, sales leads fall through the cracks – whether it’s poor organization or bad follow-up, there are many sales leads that never result in a sale, and it’s often because the sales team or the company management isn’t doing a good enough job of managing sales leads.

Here are a few key reasons why sales leads tend to fall through the cracks:

No Initial Lead Qualifying

This happens so often that it might shock you, but it’s true – often when companies get new sales leads, they don’t have any initial process in place to qualify the new leads by asking questions and finding out more about how ready the buyers are to make a purchase. Instead, they just hand the leads off to the sales team. This is a terrible mistake, because you’re not getting any real insights into these new prospective customers – you don’t know what they need, you don’t know how urgent their situation is, and you don’t have any basis for starting a real sales conversation. As a result, too many bad sales leads get mixed in with the “good” ones, your sales team gets overwhelmed by chasing bad leads, and the good opportunities get lost in the clutter.

Lack of Lead Nurturing

By the same token, many companies might have an initial lead qualifying process, and they do a decent job of separating the wheat from the chaff to sort out the good sales leads, but then they are too eager to follow up only with the “good” sales leads that are urgently ready to by. As a result, the long-term sales leads that would benefit from more extensive follow-up and relationship building get ignored – when instead they could have build a long-term pipeline by nurturing these leads for several months until they’re ready to buy. Don’t focus only on low-hanging fruit – be ready to invest in building a longer-term dialogue with sales leads.

Disorganized Sales Processes

Some companies have a disorganized sales process. We’ve all seen this in our own lives as consumers or as buyers for our businesses – have you ever gotten 4 different follow-up phone calls from 3 different sales people? Have you ever had your doctor’s office ask you the reason for your visit 3 teams, even though you were just there last week? Sometimes at sales organizations, there is bad information sharing behind the scenes, and the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Avoid this by utilizing a good customer relationship management (CRM) system and take regular notes about the results of each customer contact.

Managing sales leads is a long-term, never-ending effort of communicating, listening, building trust and establishing credibility. If your company can change just a few simple things about the way you handle your sales leads – by putting in additional effort on the front end or back end of the process, or by re-examining how you track and share information about your sales leads – you’ll be more likely to win customers’ trust and close more sales!