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What is a good sales lead?

(MoneyWatch) Sales teams and marketing teams often argue about what makes a good lead. Here is an easy definition, in five simple rules.

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RULE No. 1: A good lead is pre-qualified
Almost every lead generation program operates under the assumption "the more leads, the better." Hey, want a lot of leads? Buy a booth at a trade show and run a raffle for a new iPhone. You'll have business cards coming out your ears. But your cost of sales will go through the roof because the sales reps will be chasing geese.

RULE No. 2: A good lead is easy to convert into a customer
Any lead that peters out and doesn't convert adds to the cost of sales. Every second that a sales professional spends trying to develop a lead that doesn't convert is money down the toilet. If you like, you can blame the sales rep for not being able to close the lead, but the truth is that if a lead is really good, virtually any moderately skilled sales pro can close.

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RULE No. 3: A good lead is easy to close
This isn't to say that you should expect to make a $1 million sale after a 10 minute meeting. What I'm talking about here is spending as short an amount of time as possible developing the opportunity so that there's a short sales cycle compared to the amount of revenue that's generated. Because the sales cycle is short, such leads are more profitable than leads that take a long time develop and then don't generate much revenue.

RULE No. 4: A good lead includes quantitative data
The best way to tell is a prospect is likely to buy is to gather accurate quantitative data about that lead's business situation, organizational structure and events (like trigger events) that might influence their buying behavior. Ideally, a good lead should be similar to customers who've bought your product (or something like it.)

RULE No. 5: A good lead is measurable and measured
Almost nothing is as important as measuring which leads convert and why. As your firm continues to sell, you track which "good" leads actually closed, so that you can continuously correct course, and create a profile that more accurately identifies those small number of leads who are quick and easy to close.

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