Resurrect Your Dead Leads

By Heather Baldwin

One of your sales reps calls a lead on a list provided by the marketing department. The lead answers the phone and, contrary to the information provided by marketing, says no they’re not in the market for a CRM system and hangs up. Another bad lead from marketing, right? Not necessarily, says Larry Dillon, CEO of the Wendover Corporation, a Haverford, Pennsylvania-based company that helps businesses grow by supplying refined sales leads (

Sales reps routinely discard leads that may, in fact, be good prospects, says Dillon, noting that the average B2B organization successfully uses only 6% of the leads it generates and never effectively pursues nearly 80% of its leads. As a result, he says, most companies have millions of dollars tied up in disqualified leads.

How do good leads get disqualified? Take the example above. What the CRM sales rep doesn’t know is that the person who told him that her company is not in the market for a CRM system is late to her kid’s soccer game because she just had a heated discussion with her manager. “The person is involved in something more important than talking to a sales rep, even though her company is interested in a CRM system,” Dillon says. But overscheduled reps, he adds, usually won’t take the time to find that out.

Here’s another reason reps disqualify leads: If reps see the lead is from a company with which they have done business in the past, they’ll call their contact rather than the contact on the lead sheet. When the contact says no, the company isn’t planning a CRM purchase and goes on to say he would definitely know if they were, the rep crosses the company off the list. Yet the person on the contact sheet may be spearheading a CRM purchase for a different department.

In all, there are about 50 nonintuitive reasons why companies fail repeatedly to develop leads for new business. “Organizations don’t need more leads; they need to requalify the leads they have,” says Dillon, who specializes in putting organizations’ old, dead leads through a requalification process and then reintroducing them into the sales process. For example, one of Dillon’s customers had disqualified a lead because after playing a drawn-out game of phone tag, the company decided if the lead was truly interested, he would have tried harder to get back in touch. “I got this contact as a discarded lead, requalified it and my customer has an appointment next week. It could potentially be up to a million dollars worth of business in the first year alone,” says Dillon.

Dillon guarantees that every lead he reintroduces will be good. “If you buy a mailing list, they only guarantee 80% as deliverable. With us, if even one lead is bad, we open a case on that piece of information and requalify the lead.” His bottom line: Don’t spend more money on more leads. Go back to the ones you discarded, figure out why they were discarded and then dig a little deeper to see which ones are actually good leads. Chances are there’s a lot of gold buried in your pile of dead leads.