Many Sales Professionals are very comfortable maintaining long term relationships and developing repeat business from existing clients. However, it is the goal of every Company to retain existing business and to develop new clients and new sales. This involves identifying a pool of sales leads, and converting some of these leads to new business.

Key Points with Sales Leads
There are several key points when it comes to beginning work on developing your leads.
1. EVERY lead is precious, do not dismiss it easily.
2. Keep an open mind about every lead. Sales people make assumptions about the potential of each lead, whether this person is likely to buy or whether they will be interested in our products. Unfortunately, clients that prove to have a huge spend do not come with a label on their foreheads! Work every lead until you have firm evidence that this is NOT a prospect.
3. Think of yourself as competing with another very good Sales Person rather than an opposing Company. If this lead is a real prospect, they WILL buy from someone. Is it going to be you, or is in going to be the other guy who gets the sale?
4. Plan how you will work those leads effectively, develop a good personal management system.

Set Targets
Sales is a numbers game, the bigger the numbers the better the Sales Person! However, when it comes to managing leads, it is better to think in terms of conversion rates rather than flat numbers. The reason for this is simple. Take 2 sales people, one with 10 sales and one with 20 sales in a week. You might at first think that the second sales person with 20 sales is the better of the two. However, you then find that she contacted 100 people to generate those 20 sales, while the first sales person contacted 20 people to get their 10 sales.

The sales person with the 50% conversion rate is by far the better sales person. Indeed, the first sales person, with the 10% conversion rate may well be a liability. It would be much more productive to give her leads to your good sales person. This is the way to think about your own leads.

Plan how you will manage each batch of leads and set your targets in terms of conversion rates. Set a target of –
• How many leads you will convert to contacts
• How many contacts you will convert to clients

Managing your Sales Leads
To manage your leads effectively there is a useful model called the Sales Cycle. This gives us the stages from lead to advocate.
1. Leads
2. Contacts – we make contact with the decision maker, perhaps on a telephone call or casual meeting
3. First Contact Meeting – our first sales presentation meeting, where we build rapport, establish needs, present our offering and, hopefully, close a sale
4. Active Prospect – we have met, and the prospect may buy, but hasn’t made the decision yet
5. Client – the client buys from us
6. Advocate – the client is so pleased they recommend us to others
The idea is to work at each phase to improve our conversion rate and effectiveness at sales. The more leads we convert to contacts, the bigger the pool we have for the next phase. Work conversion rates for each phase of the cycle.

Improving your Conversion Rates
We improve our conversion rate at each phase of the Sales Cycle by using skills, recording and tracking systems, and good motivational techniques. Above all, every good sales person plans HOW they will improve each week and each month. As well as managing the normal weekly activities, they focus on an improvement area so that they are constantly increasing their potential.

For example, you could concentrate one week on improving the first phase of the Sales Cycle, generating more contacts from your leads. Isolate a time for making appointments. Prepare a list of contact names and telephone numbers, and anything else you will need to carry out an effective period of calling. Set a target of number of dials, or number of contacts or number of appointments made. Work out how you will motivate yourself to keep going till you achieve your target. After the batch of calls, review your performance, and use this review to plan your next session.

Spend the next week focussing on improving your recording and tracking system, with the target improving the conversion from your Active File to Clients. A good sales professional is always working at his or her role and is always working at improving.

Author's Bio: 

Kate Tammemagi works in Management Training. She also provides customised Professional Sales Training.