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The case for sales management

Reprinted from News-To-Use, Vol.6, No.2.
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We've been preaching the value of sales lead management for years, and we're clearly not alone. But if you're one of those holdouts who still let inquiries from advertising, trade shows, press releases and other sources collect in the bottom drawer of your desk, consider these thoughts of Jim Obermayer, vice president of Inquiry Handling Service (IHS) in San Fernando.

According to Obermayer, the long-established "Rule of 45" indicates that on average- regardless of industry- 45% of the people who inquire about your product will buy it from somebody within a year.

Whether or not it will be you depends in large measure on whether or not your sales force has already given up when the prospect is ready to buy. The truth is that most follow-up inquiries- by you and your competitors- ceases after 90 days. That means that if you can somehow build persistence into your sales effort at a corporate level, you'll be facing decreasing competition for the sale as time goes on.

As Obermayer says, "You must resist the temptation to believe that only 10% of inquires (the percentage who buy in the first 30 days) turn into a sale." The facts are, he says,

• 76% of the people who inquire actually intend to buy.
• 40% of the people who inquire about your product
don't approach another competitor.
• More than 50% of all leads aren't followed up at all.

All of this suggests there is a gold mine in the inquiries you receive... if you have the discipline to follow them up. A good ad agency- Ripley-Woodbury, for example- can help you develop a program for enabling your sales force to make a repeated contact with your prospects throughout their buying cycle.

And that idea is what we would call good management.

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