About 18 months ago, your leadership team decided to increase the company’s digital marketing budget. To everyone’s surprise, this investment has yielded far greater results than expected. You now rank for 50 long-tail keywords, traffic is up significantly, and more visitors are converting to leads than ever before.

Although your chief marketing officer (CMO) is happy, not everyone in the organization loves the change in direction. Sales reps, in particular, seem skeptical. As a result, turf wars have started to develop between the various departments.

Why hasn’t your sales team embraced this new source of opportunities? What can be done to fully maximize the value of each web lead?

Let’s explore why your sales reps are skeptical of inbound web leads — and what to do about it.

1. Marketing doesn’t keep sales reps in the loop

To gain the level of online visibility that has been achieved, your marketing team implemented a multi-faceted tactical plan. Content creation, pay-per-click advertising, email promotions, social media engagement, and link building are just a few of the team’s ongoing endeavors.

With so many moving parts, it’s proven impossible to keep the sales team up to speed.

Take, for example, the white paper campaign that launched last month. In a perfect world, the sales team would have been provided advance copies prior to distribution. Instead, marketing went live with the program and promoted the landing page via email, social, and several paid channels. The campaign generated a ton of buzz and delivered dozens of qualified leads. Sadly, the sales team lacked the proper context to effectively follow up, resulting in subpar revenue performance.

If the goal is to generate as many web leads as possible, your company is winning. However, if the goal is to attract and convert leads into paying customers, your company is failing. Just ask the sales team.

Why sales reps ignore web leads

2. Your sales reps are already too busy

Even if marketing did a better job of informing internal stakeholders, there’s still no guarantee that sales reps have the capacity to manage a flood of web leads. After all, most of their time is already accounted for with higher priority items, such as:

Following up with existing opportunities: If given the choice between a warm opportunity or an unvalidated web lead, most reps are going to spend time on the warm opportunity. Doing so makes perfect sense.

Upselling to current customers: It’s easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one. Your reps want to see the company succeed, but they also want to earn more commissions. Focusing on the needs of existing customers is an easy way to achieve both goals.

Manually preparing reports: Because your company’s current CRM lacks easily customizable reports and dashboards, sales reps spend a considerable amount of time preparing and updating pipeline reports. Your company can’t be successful without these reports, and someone has to prepare them. This duty falls on the shoulders of the sales team.

Simply put, every waking hour of your sales team’s day is already booked solid. Naturally, following up on a list of unverified leads isn’t very high on anyone’s priority list.

3. Small window of opportunity

Unlike “traditional” leads (such as those originating from trade shows), web leads have a much smaller window of opportunity for engagement. The more time that passes, the less engaged a web lead becomes. This makes the follow-up process even more frustrating for your sales reps.

Here’s why.

Websites don’t have business hours 

Your website is (hopefully) always online. Prospective customers often assume that someone from your company is also online (or soon will be). Although this may seem like an unrealistic expectation, it’s an expectation nonetheless.

Limitless alternatives 

Think about the last time you invested an hour of your time researching vendors or service providers. You likely clicked through several websites, read about their offerings, and possibly filled out a few web forms. Do you recall all of the websites you visited or interacted with? Probably not, unless the vendor was quick to respond (if responded at all).

Your competitors are faster to respond 

The first company to respond is more likely to win the prospect’s trust (and business). For the reasons we’ve already discussed, web leads are already low on the sales team’s priority list, but delayed outreach only compounds the issue.

Here are concrete tips for better lead engagement

4. Web leads can be a source of distractions

It’s understandable why sales reps think that web leads are so distracting. Hours pass with no new leads. Then, out of nowhere, a dozen new alerts appear in your reps’ inboxes. How can they reasonably be expected to deal with such unpredictability with everything else on their plate?

Thankfully, there are some basic things your company can do to reduce distractions and boost lead engagement. Consider these ideas:

  • Use web-to-lead forms to automatically collect lead information in your CRM, rather than filling your sales team’s inboxes with hundreds of email notifications.
  • Create lead routing rules to reduce duplication of effort and lighten the load on everyone.
  • Implement workflow automation triggers to ensure each lead receives a personalized, timely response to his or her inquiry.
  • Integrate to an appointment scheduling software tool and empower leads to book time on their own terms.
  • Maintain tight controls over duplicate records to avoid unnecessary confusion.
  • Hire a freelancer or part-time consultant to answer incoming live chat sessions.

In summary, your company needs to implement systems and processes that streamline the management of incoming web leads. Doing so will reduce internal distractions and deliver an improved experience for prospects.

Web leads are "information gatherers"

5. Web leads tend to be “information gatherers”

In the seemingly rare circumstances when web leads are actually followed up with, your sales reps are notorious for saying things like this:

“None of the web leads are interested in buying anything — they’re just looking for free information.”

True, web leads can be a mixed bag that includes those who have no intention of buying your products or services. Therefore, calling and emailing every person who downloads a whitepaper isn’t the best use of your sales team’s time. On the other hand, some web leads, especially those who engage through live chat or request pricing information, may turn out to be extremely viable. Classifying all web leads as mere “information gatherers” is unwise and could prove costly for the company’s bottom line. What’s the right balance?

Using your CRM’s tagging functionality could provide a much-needed solution to your lead management difficulties. For example, grouping web leads by interaction type could add clarity to an otherwise confusing situation:

  • Requested contact
  • Downloaded whitepaper

By grouping leads based on website action, you give your sales team the ability to quickly hone in on those who are truly interested. Furthermore, by integrating your CRM to a marketing automation system (or better yet, using a unified CRM), you could automatically engage “information gatherers” without bothering the sales team.

6. There’s not enough visibility

With lead data spread all over the place, your company’s current process offers minimal visibility into what is working (and what’s not). To keep sales reps motivated and marketing on track, you need a CRM that delivers intuitive business intelligence reports.

As you evaluate the feasibility of switching CRMs, look for a system that can help answer questions like these:

Questions from sales

  • What percent of “information gatherers” ultimately become paying customers?
  • How likely are live chat leads to convert into opportunities?
  • Which web forms indicate that a lead is highly qualified?
  • Which traffic sources send the most engaged leads?

Questions from marketing

  • What percentage of web leads are never followed up with?
  • How can we simplify the follow-up process for our sales team?
  • Which marketing programs should be continued or discontinued?
  • What types of nurture programs do we need to convert “information gatherers” into qualified leads?

An effective CRM not only provides answers to these questions, it more importantly empowers users to extract key insights without help from the IT department. Good data is of minimal use if only a select few can access it.

Less skepticism, more sales

Switching from a purely outbound sales organization to a hybrid inbound model isn’t always the smoothest journey. The good news is that you’re well aware of the problem and proactively seeking solutions to address the sales team’s concerns.

In the long run, with the right mix of technology and business processes, you’re likely to experience less skepticism and a greater harmony between sales and marketing.

Ready to get a free needs assessment and see an integrated CRM in action? Request a demo. No commitment required. 

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