Why your SQL's Get Ignored at the End Every Quarter

During my career and at most of the companies that I have supported, I noticed a strange cycle that occurred at the end of every month and especially at the end of every quarter.  At these times, Sales completely ignored the Teleprospectors' SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads).  The worst time was at the end of every quarter when SQLs would not be called until 15 days or longer after they were passed to Sales. My managers and I started to track this cycle which we called the “Care Factor.”

We dubbed it so, because field reps were very interested in (cared about) SQLs during the first weeks of every month and the first month of every quarter. In contrast, they ignored SQLs during the last week of every month and the last month of every quarter. During the last month of the quarter, after the 15th day, the field wouldn’t touch any new SQL until at least for a few days after the quarter ended.  This was often as long as two full weeks after the SQL was passed.  By then, the SQLs were stale.  Stale SQLs require requalification.

We had a SQL follow-up rule in place for the field.  SQLs needed to be contacted within 48 hours; however, there wasn’t one Regional VP of Sales who cared about this rule at the end of the quarter. Our company, like most, suffered from the ”hockey stick” factor; a few deals close at the beginning of a quarter while most deals are closed at quarters end (spiking up, like a hockey stick).  The “hockey stick” factor caused the field to be super busy with trying to pull in revenue.  They had no time to review potential opportunities (SQLs).  The combination of these two factors, “hockey stick” and “Care Factor,” created a vicious cycle that impacted pipeline and revenue growth.

I developed a solution to the “Care Factor” problem.  Each regional sales office should assign one person to review SQLs as they come in.  SQLs should go to the sales rep that has the bandwidth to work the deal at the time the lead is passed over.  It is far better for your company to be responsive to the needs of your prospects than to let quality SQLs slip away or to stall due to lack of timely follow-up.  If you must, create a commission sharing model to keep the peace among your field reps.

In the end, your company will build quality sales pipeline a lot faster. The Teleprospecting resource will be used efficiently, as time will be spent garnering new SQLs vs. re-qualifying old SQLs.  The benefit to your company will be a consistent flow of opportunities to your sales pipeline which will mean more revenue each and every quarter.

How Does the Care Factor Impact Revenue?

  • Constant requalification of leads is a waste of limited resources.  Most companies don’t have enough Teleprospecting horse-power to support their sales organization.  Rather than going after new prospects, Teleprospectors are then required to regularly re-qualify solid SQLs that have already been contacted and previously qualified.  This requalification prevents a steady stream of new SQLs to Sales.
  • The SQL-to-Sales Funnel quota will be impacted.
  • The Field teams’ delay in follow-up gives prospects the impression that your company is not responsive. C-level executives take time to answer the Teleprospectors questions and/or give them the right person to contact.  The delayed response makes your company look bad due to the slow follow-up by Sales. I have heard from clients that many of their deals were lost due to lack of Sales responsiveness.
  • Growth of the sales funnel is hampered as quality SQLs are delayed.  In some cases, SQLs won’t make the funnel because of the delay in follow-up.  The delayed funnel growth has a direct impact on when deals will close.

Manage all SQLs well, no matter when they come into your sales funnel.  In doing so, your prospects will feel that your team is responsive and effective.  Your Teleprospecting resources will be used effectively and won’t have to re-qualify stale leads.  In the end your company will have consistent sales funnel growth.