Many entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially when they are starting their businesses or their founder is a dynamic evangelical individual, make the initial sales for the company.
Far too often, that’s where the growth stops. The founder drops the sales bag and jumps into production, operations, or development to fulfill the order or contract. While this occurs, most all sales activity stops until the founder either completes their other duties or they realize that the project is almost complete and there is no backlog or pipeline to continue the business once the deliverable are completed.
Typically this cycle continues until the founder burns out, the company grows enough for someone else to assist in sales, or the founder gets help.
Help can come in many ways, at the simplest level notes on prior sales activity is a good start. These notes, formerly in the founders “head” should be committed to some documented form as simple as and a textual document and outlook, or preferably contained in a CRM (Customer Relationship Management System) if there are more than a few prospects or leads. The CRM could be a solution to at least assist in the sales process to avoid a complete “re-starts”.
Lead generation and qualification could be the next interim step to a sales organization. Leads can be active or passive. Passive leads could be any target prospect that needs your product and know of your company and reputation through your marketing or public relations activities or referral. Regarding a passive lead for example, you may be one of the few manufacturers of a product, or supplier of a service, and are a “known entity” when sales “cold calls” the prospect. Note that many sales people not consider this a lead at all, but try cold calling a prospect whom haws no knowledge of your products, or company and you will easily experience the difference (Branding).
Active leads are leads that have some engagement with your company, products, or founder whether it is an expressed inquiry, were involved in a prior sales qualification with non-negative results, or you have a sales person with an active and positive reputation or sales book in the industry you are selling.
A lead generator/qualifier, normally not as expensive as a sales person, can be hired or trained to make initial outreach and qualification for the founder by setting appointments for the founder (by phone or in person). The key here is to qualify interest, for a list pre-qualified by the founder to be appropriate targets, for the founder to follow-up on. Don’t expect these leads to be “in the sales pipeline”, but realistically they should be prequalified to the point of having the appropriate contact information, a validation of some level on interest by the prospect in leading more, and receptive to your calls at the 75% level.