Lead Generation: Turning a Cold Call into a Warm Call

By Jim McAvoy Founder & President, JWMcAvoy & Company Ltd. | June 11, 2010

Question: What do "gargling bleach," "crawling over broken glass," and "having a root canal done without Novocain" all have in common? Answer: These are all activities that high-performing sales professionals have claimed they would do rather than spend time "cold calling" and focusing on lead generation–related activities.

While lead generation has always been an important topic, it is an issue that has really jumped onto center stage over the last couple of years. Although the growth of technology has helped in the gathering of leads, the conversion factor has not increased. So the critical question we need to explore is: how do sales professionals reliably increase their reservoir of qualified leads, and ultimately convert them to revenue?

Sales professionals consistently acknowledge that the initial step in most sales processes is prospecting-an activity they typically don't enjoy as they don't have the time or the interest to efficiently and effectively execute the tasks associated with successful prospecting. It is no wonder that 60% of sales leaders say their sales departments are not qualifying leads as well as they should.

Recent research shows us just how important effective lead generation is to sales force effectiveness and productivity. In fact, the 2009 B2B Lead Generation Benchmark Study found the following:

  • The overwhelming majority (94%) of survey participants use more than four different lead generation tactics to get the job done, which is a major drain on time and staff resources.
  • Companies that invest a larger percentage of their marketing budget in lead generation generally have better sales results than those who invest a smaller percentage.
  • A majority (60%) of the companies reported that their outside sales teams find less than half of their opportunities in the sales pipeline on their own, and 40% reported that their outside sales teams find less than 30% of the pipeline opportunities needed.

A proven approach is the five-stage process known as L.E.A.D.S.TM that aims at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the front-end portion of the sales function within an organization. Said another way, no matter what industry you are in, L.E.A.D.S. will provide you with strategies to convert a "cold call" into a "warm call" and in turn drive organic revenue.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.