The following is a guest post by John Paterson. 

John has used, implemented and overseen a number of CRM systems as a salesperson, sales manager, sales director, COO and CEO.  Off the back of his experiences as CEO of CRM vendor Oxygen Solutions, he saw a gap in the market for a simple, straightforward hosted CRM system that was aimed specifically at SMEs, and set up Really Simple Systems.

With over 5,000 users Really Simple Systems is one of the world’s largest providers of Cloud CRM systems and has offices in the UK and Australia.

Most sales and marketing processes work like this – the marketing department generates sales leads that are passed to a sales person. The sales person does an initial qualification, discarding maybe half of them. During the sales process further qualification may happen, either by the prospect or the sales person, and finally maybe one qualified lead out of four is converted into a sale. The numbers may change depending on your business, but on average something like ten leads from marketing are needed for one sale.

So what happens to the leads that have been discarded by the sales team? At worst, they are deleted from the marketing database, having been passed over to the sales team by the marketing team, and now aren’t on any system at all. At best, they remain in the marketing database, but aren’t flagged as being special. Hold on…why should they be special? Instinct may say that they are worse than special, having already been qualified out or lost. But what if that’s not the case…?

Take us for an example. At Really Simple Systems we get a steady stream of leads in the form of people looking at our Cloud CRM. Some get qualified out early because they don’t have the budget, or don’t want to go Cloud.

Later on, they might be lost because they have specialised requirements, a strict budget or simply preferred another vendor and went with them. Six months later, some come back. Perhaps they decide that they now have the budget, or that Cloud isn’t so bad, or that the competitor they initially chose disappointed them.

Even though the initial attempt at converting them failed, they are statistically much more likely to convert than the others in the marketing database who we know nothing about. At least we know these ‘failed’ leads want a CRM system, and we have some idea of what their requirements and budget are. Sure, they fell at the last hurdle, but at least they started the race. Whatever tripped them up the first time, they might get over if they start the race again.

So, don’t throw away your ‘failed’ sales leads. Keep them in the marketing database and segment them into a special campaign. For us, six months seems to be the time when ‘failed’ leads come around again, so we start emailing them once a month after three months. Your cycle time may well be different. Of course, you’ll need a CRM system that integrates the sales and marketing processes together so you can move prospects with all their previous sales and marketing history back and forth between the marketing and sales teams. But however you manage it, make sure you get those failed leads back out of the trash can, because they may not be so ‘failed’ after all!

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