DIS-qualify losers

Problems occur when a launch program's success is measured in leads. We run a promotion and count the leads. Sure, it's easy to do, but is the number of leads relevant? This type of measure often encourages bad methods. Fine, we got 10,000 leads. But were any of them good leads? Hot leads? The "Glengarry" leads?

A quick tip for ensuring promotional success is to disqualify leads. Disqualify obvious losers: consultants (a.k.a. the unemployed); trick-or-treaters (those who just want trinkets); tire-kickers (people who aren't in the market, but are just checking out your stuff).

It seems to me that salespeople don't want Marketing to do any filtering of leads--"give 'em all to me"--but then they complain when they get these "loser leads" from Marketing.

Marketing folks should disqualify obvious losers. Define a short set of rules or attributes for a successful customer relationship, and turn over only those good leads. I used to market a product that monitored the performance of Oracle databases. Can you think of a question that we should ask prior to setting up an appointment with a salesperson? Right! "Do you have any Oracle databases?"

Another product that could save a customer millions of dollars each year also had a very complex implementation, involving hundreds of hours. A typical implementation cost $250,000. Unfortunately, novices would sometimes confuse our product with a much smaller solution that retailed at $25,000. We decided to position it with the phrase "A typical implementation costs $250,000"--and scared away those who couldn't afford to buy. We disqualified losers, so sales people didn't have to waste their time doing it.

Here's my approach for defining a hot lead:

Do you have the problem?

Are you looking for a solution?

Would you like to schedule an appointment with a salesperson?

[H]ave the problem; [O]pportunity; [T]alk to Sales...equals a HOT lead. Get it? H.O.T.

What three questions can you ask on a web form or a tradeshow questionnaire that will quickly disqualify losers? A few loser leads in the salespeople's hands will tarnish all the rest of the leads. Give Sales only the good ones. As for the losers, we'll slam them into a marketing database, and send them a note once in awhile asking, "Are you still a loser? Yes or No?" (Your marketing writers may want to wordsmith that a little bit!)

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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