The Perishable Lead: Why Don’t Good Leads Ever Get Recycled?

31 May

At this point in my career, my marketing teams have generated hundreds of thousands of leads that never received a call. If sales and marketing alignment had been perfect, these leads could have generated billions of dollars of pipeline and many hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. In addition, these teams have generated more than 100,000 leads that have been followed-up just one time, often with a single email, voice mail, or phone conversation.

For most organizations, recent leads are an incredibly valuable asset that is inevitably underutilized.Why?  The fact is that most B2B organizations do not have sophisticated enough lead scoring and routing processes to recycle great leads that, for one reason or another, never turned into sales opportunities.

So what does it take to effectively recycle leads?

  • A sophisticated scoring process: To effectively recycle leads, companies need to score the lead at least two times. The first score is based on the initial inquiry and the successive score is based on time-based degradation as well as subsequent prospect engagement. Unfortunately, this is very difficult to get right. According to Sirius Decisions, “Best-in-class companies define and execute targeted nurture efforts specific to disqualification reasons, product interests, industry and buyer role. An emerging best practice is to score disqualification reasons and weight responses to nurture-specific offers distinctly from non-nurture actions to recognize progress along a prescribed path designed specifically for reactivating recycled leads.”
  • A multi-pass lead routing process: To effectively recycle leads, you need the ability to present aging leads back to sales for follow-up calls and conversations. To get this right, organizations need to be able to granularly track the initial disposition of the lead and then to re-present the lead to sales at the appropriate time based on prospect activities or time-based follow-up best practices.
  • Strong Lead Generation Analysis Capabilities: In most organizations, sales follow-up capability is limited. Smart organizations are able to dynamically prioritize sales follow-up by balancing the quality of the lead, the level of prospect engagement, and the degradation of the opportunity resulting from the passage of time. According to Sirius Decisions, “Best practice organizations perform deal reviews on recycled leads that progress into active opportunities to determine common attributes. When observable events are identified (e.g. contract expiration with a competitor), marketers can incorporate them into recycle-specific scoring models.”

For many organizations, the first step to lead recycling is to drive second or third contact attempts to recent leads that have never been reached. Beyond that, organizations typically focus on nurture marketing programs to recent leads with the hope of driving prospect re-engagement. As CRM and marketing automation tools continue to improve, smart companies will figure out how to value and prioritize aging leads and to target sales efforts towards the highest value prospects.


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