Sales Saturation: Is Your Sales Team Getting Soaked?

January 21, 2016

b2b marketing

Editor’s note: This post was contributed by Mike Weir, Vertical Director for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions’ Technology business.

Here’s a scenario I’m sure you can relate to as a tech marketer: You generate an abundance of leads for your sales team only to find out that the reps have barely even touched them. What gives? Don’t your sales reps realize there is gold in that mountain of leads you’ve presented to them?

The unfortunate reality is that upwards of 80% of leads generated by marketing are neglected or never acted upon by a sales rep. Why does this happen? There are the common scenarios discussed such as lead quality, lead readiness for a sales person (aka SRLs or sales ready leads) and lazy sales people… but let me share the least discussed reason in marketing circles, Sales Saturation!

All too many marketers believe their objective is to deliver as many leads as possible to their sales teams - and even sometimes, dare I say, this belief is really just to have a big number of leads to plug into their “sales contribution” calculation to show their CMO how much they helped. But politics aside, marketers tend to look at their lead generation goals too broadly, not taking into account the sales teams’ structure and focus. The most difficult, and therefore overlooked, is the amount of leads each individual sales person is able to contact on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The result? Sales Saturation: sales people have more leads than they are physically able to follow up with.

How is a marketer to know if they are hydrating their sales reps or soaking them? Here’s a simple equation. Multiply the amount of available time a sales rep has in a week to follow up on marketing leads by the amount of time it takes to follow up on each lead. This is the number of leads a rep is able to handle each week and, therefore, the number of leads you should be delivering to them. Additionally, remember that each lead comes at a cost. That cost must be factored into the equation as well, in order to understand what is happening to the marketing investment made to deliver these leads. Because when leads go ignored, marketing dollars are wasted; it’s just a matter of how much.

Let’s run some hypothetical numbers for a smaller sales team:

Sales Capacity

Time each week each rep has to follow up with leads: 2 hours

Time it takes to follow up with one lead: 30 minutes

Number of leads each rep can follow up with per week: 4 leads

Number of sales reps you have to call on leads: 10

Total Sales Capacity per Week: 40 leads                                      

Marketing Investment

Marketing’s cost per lead: $75 per lead

Number of leads delivered to sales each week: 100 leads

Marketing’s weekly investment in lead generation:  $7,500

Sales Saturation

Number of leads marketing is delivering each week:  100 leads

Number of leads sales can follow up with each week:  40 leads

Number of leads neglected each week:  60 leads

Total marketing investment wasted each week:  60 x $75 = $4,500

…Each Month:  4 x $4,500 = $18,000

…Each Year:  52 x $4,500 = $234,000

In this situation for a SMALL sales org, $4,500 in lead generation investment by the marketing department is potentially wasted. Every. Week. Which accumulates to a minimum of $234,000 a year. That’s a huge amount of waste. Additionally, every week those leads are compounding exponentially into neglect (upset clients if they directly asked to be contacted) and lost potential revenue (if they’re highly qualified buyers).

When we, marketers, generate leads where leads are not needed or able to be called on, we overwhelm and frustrate the sales team and waste valuable marketing resources. Run the sales saturation equation and start making the change today. Once you have a better understanding of the sales team’s capacity, here’s what you need to do:

  • Set more realistic goals: Adjust your efforts to focus on quality leads that fit your sales teams’ focus and deliver a realistic number of leads your sales team can follow up with each week.
  • Amp up your lead nurturing strategy: Refine your lead nurturing efforts to further qualify and prime your leads. This way, Marketing delivers a fantastic client experience with continued education during their process and the leads you do hand off will be of higher value to your sales reps and more worthy of their time.
  • Work to deliver both quality and quantity: Focus on providing the leads your sales team needs, both in quality and in quantity. Communicate with your reps to understand the quality of the leads you’re delivering and how they can be improved.

Consider this a call to arms, folks. We have access to the range of ad tech and marketing technology that makes this approach more of a reality than ever before. Let’s use it to begin optimizing our lead generation strategies to set realistic goals, have marketing own more of the education process via lead nurturing, route quality, sales-ready leads and watch as sales closes them like pros and we all succeed together.  

Is your tech brand among the top 50 influential? Find out in The Content Marketing 50: High Tech Edition infographic.