Search Marketing and Lead Management vs. Sales Prospecting

The old school sales prospecting approach to generating leads appears to be out of fashion, especially if you read about marketing and selling online.  Every blog and webinar you can find will tell you that investing in search marketing, a good website built for conversions and lead management systems are the future.

80% of businesses still not using Lead Management

So why is it that 8 out of 10 businesses that I speak with are still doing it the old fashioned way?  I would think that customers interested in our online crm are on the more forward looking end of the spectrum.
Even if you’re inexperienced with search marketing and lead management technology, the arguments are compelling…

  • Sales people consistently point to lack of quality leads as their number one frustration
  • Sales management is required to constantly micro manage the sales prospecting process in order to ensure sales people focus on it and keep filling their pipeline of future business
  • Sales people generally don’t enjoy cold calling, networking and prefer to spend time with existing clients or doing presentations, etc.


But, the technical learning curve seems to be too great for most small business owners to take on themselves and the cost to bring in outside expertise to implement online traffic campaigns and lead management solutions appears prohibitive.

Dollars and Sense – Lead Management

So, I put pencil to paper, or rather keystroke to excel sheet, and did the math.  We can debate whether a full blown lead management system or business crm is required or maybe just a simple client database like ACT software could work.  However, what’s certain is that to replace the leads generated by sales people, you’ll need a consistent campaign to drive quality traffic to your website and a website that compels visitors to become leads.  Assuming you’re not a web designer or search engine optimization expert, then you’re going to have to spend some money on that.


You may even need to bring in a consultant to help you develop the overall process for lead management.  Once a lead comes in, what happens to it?  Who calls the lead?  What do they say to the lead?  What do they ask the lead?  At what point does a lead become a prospect and go into our client database?  Do we send the lead emails?  Do we need an email marketing solution?


Let’s assume that the average small business would need to invest between $15k and $25k upfront in web design, campaign development, process mapping, lead management systems and sales training.  Then you’d still have an on-going cost to consistently drive traffic to your site.  Depending on the size of your sales team and the specific online marketing techniques you choose, costs could range from $2k to $10k per month.

That sounds like a lot of money, especially when its not money you’re redirecting from some other area.  You’re not firing sales people.  However, based on the assumption that search marketing and other online traffic campaigns combined with a well constructed website can increase the number of qualified leads by just 20% vs. traditional sales prospecting and that the close rate will increase by 5% due to the fact that sales people now spend all their time qualifying leads and closing them, rather than 25 or 50% of their time finding leads, these upfront costs pay for themselves in the first two months in most scenarios and overall sales in 12 months increase by 50 to 100%.

That’s compelling!  Of course, you won’t find anyone in the online marketing business promising this type of results.  Lead Management vendors won’t either.  It’s because the results they can control are leads.  The business still has to re-train the sales team to respond to these leads properly, use the online crm and lead management systems fluently and close the business.


So, in my view the battle has been one both intellectually and practically.  What we all need now is a sales training program build for online lead generation and lead management programs!