If you’re past $4m-$5m or so in revenue, this post isn’t for you. You’ll have figured this out, at least mostly. But if you are on either side of $1m in ARR, there are 3 things you can almost always do from a pure process standpoint to squeeze materially more revenue out per lead. Do ’em now! 🙂
First, implement Lead Scoring. But also make sure every lead is called back — fast. Hopefully, if you are coming up on $1m in ARR, you have some sort of lead scoring, but many of you don’t. Most marketing automation and some CRMs have at least very rudimentary lead scoring built in these days. Lead scoring, simply put, matches a lead to a set of actions (e.g., what they do on your marketing site or app) with some data (company size, fit for your app, etc.) to score each lead. Then, you can prioritize them for the sales reps and make sure the highest value leads get the fastest, most attention.
Without lead scoring, your junior reps will often quickly get overwhelmed, and spend all their time equally on all leads. And your more senior reps will do the opposite. They’ll do their own informal lead scoring, eyeballing each lead, and only calling back a handful. That might be OK if they were perfect at their own lead scoring, but they’ll often get it wrong. They’ll index on names and companies they’ve heard of.
One key point though: don’t accidentally turn lead scoring into an excuse for the organization as a whole not to follow up. Have someone call even the low-scored leads. It can even be an intern. Worst case, it can be someone outsourced. Low-scored leads are also a great way to train new junior sales reps, or even give SDRs a chance to close. Call almost every lead in the early days. It’s almost always worth at least the cost of an intern’s time.
Second, implement dynamic Lead Routing (i.e., segment your sales team). Different reps are better at certain types of leads. Some are better at bigger leads. Some are better at consultative deals. Some can do the more technical deals. Figure out who is good at what. And route the leads dynamically. Don’t just use round robin or territories, at least not without an additional layer of analysis. Every-rep-in-a-segment-is-equal lead routing maybe is OK later, when you have tons of reps. But it’s a wasted opportunity when you have 2-10 reps. When you have a handful, getting each rep the type of lead they are best at can dramatically increase your overall lead yield. There aren’t so many reps that you can’t learn what each is best at.
Third, implement Lead Rationing. In the early days you won’t have enough leads. But then quickly, you’ll often swamp the handful of reps you do have. Especially if you are cautious in how quickly you hire salespeople. There will quickly come a point where if you send just 1 more lead to a rep per month, their productivity goes down. And this can vary a lot. Some reps are fast closers. Some like to take more time. On my sales teams, I’ve seen a variance of as much as 2x in terms of how many leads good reps can process. But measure it and figure it out. And once a rep is at capacity with a certain number of leads per month … send the rest of the leads that month to another rep.
And importantly, implement an SLA of some sort. I.e., make sure any lead not followed up with quickly is automatically assigned to another rep. This will start to be pretty common once you have more leads than your sales team can effectively process. An SLA will both ensure leads get the attention they deserve, and as a side benefit, discourage natural secondary “lead scoring” by the reps themselves.
At scale, everyone does all 3 of these things. And at a level a lot more sophisticated than described above. But we often get here a little late. That’s a bummer. Because you could have closed more from your precious, hard won leads … with the exact same sales team you already have.
Implement all of the 3 L’s even just at $1m ARR, and I’ll bet you get 20%-40% more revenue just out of the leads you already have.
(note: an updated SaaStr Classic post)