17 December 2021

How to re-energise 'old and cold' sales opportunities in your CRM

Pete Jakob
Written by Pete Jakob

Pete is UK Marketing Director for The Marketing Centre and specialises in marketing systems, data and processes for small and mid-size businesses. He has over 35 years’ experience working in technology and a variety of other sectors.

Welcome to the fourth article in our series on lead generation: Lead Gen in 10. The premise is simple. Quickfire, practical, hands-on exercises that will improve every aspect of your lead generation process.

So far, we’ve covered:
  • How to define a lead
  • How to calculate how many leads you need to hit your sales targets
  • How to keep leads moving through the sales process

    In this piece, we’ll show you how to find and unblock points in your sales process where leads are getting stuck.

    It’s tempting to focus your efforts on generating more and more leads. But what about the leads you already have? If you can increase the proportion of leads that become customers, you won’t have to spend as much getting people into the funnel.

    The leads already in your pipeline are usually the biggest opportunities, because they’ve already shown some interest in your company. So why do leads get stuck in the sales process?

Want 4 more exercises to improve your lead generation?

Our Lead Gen in 10 workbook will give you five useful exercises to improve every aspect of your lead generation.


Common reasons leads don’t close

1. Sales and marketing teams are ‘cherry picking’ leads rather than following up on them all, leaving perfectly good leads to languish. With a significant volume of leads to monitor, using your CRM smartly to generate timely prompts for people to engage is critical.

2. Sales and marketing are not aligned (our previous exercises on defining a lead and assigning sales and marketing responsibilities can help with this)

3. Your messaging doesn’t reflect your current offer and aims - out-of-date messaging will attract the wrong type of leads

4. You're using the wrong channels to find new leads (our previous exercise on how to generate the leads you need will help with this)

5. Sales aren’t closing out failed leads. Many deals remain stuck in the earliest stages of the pipeline because your team is reluctant to move them to ‘closed lost’ even when there’s no realistic hope of them closing. This can inflate the sales pipeline and make it look healthier than it is.

Those are the problems. Now let’s look at how to fix it.

The exercise

Step 1: Categorise the leads that didn’t close

Go through the last six months of sales opportunities. Then categorise them into different ‘stages’ depending on where they are in the sales pipeline.

A ‘stage’ could be anything from ‘expressed interest’ to ‘saw a product demo’ to ‘received a proposal’. If you’re managing your sales process through a CRM, you’ve probably got these stages mapped out.


Step 2: Why did they stop progressing?

Now ask yourself: why did these leads stop progressing through the sales process? What was it that prevented them from moving forward?

For instance, if the stage in the process was ‘expressed interest’ and the reason they didn’t keep moving was because they ‘stopped responding’, you need to look at what happened between them expressing interest and not responding.

  • How long did it take for someone to contact them?
  • What message did the prospect receive? 
  • Were you creating work for them? Or taking up their time unnecessarily? How could you make life easier for them?

Look out for patterns. If multiple opportunities stall at the same place for the same reason, that’s a priority.


Step 3: Take action

You’ve found the stages people stall and the reasons why, you now need to work out how to fix it. Generally speaking, there are a few things that tend to work:

  • Create content that encourages them to progress to the next stage. For example, send new contacts a well-written case study with impressive results that encourages them to book a call
  • Make it someone’s responsibility. For example, appoint a rep to get in touch with those enquiries within 15 minutes to set up a time and answer any preliminary questions
  • Automate a task. For example, send prospects a short pre-qualification survey ahead of the call 

These are great processes to put in place for the future. But don’t forget, there might be some life left in your stalled leads. If you think of a good fix for the situation, try it out on your current opportunities. 


Good job!

You’ve found the points in the funnel where leads are stalling, figured out why and remedied the situation. By identifying where you are wasting potentially good business opportunities and plugging these gaps, your business will grow faster without the need to generate more new leads.

This is the final exercise in our Lead Gen in 10 series. For more exercises to help you close more new business from your lead generation activity, check out the other exercises below:

Or click here to get the entire series in one handy workbook.


Find the gaps in your marketing

If you've followed all the exercises in this series your lead gen should already be picking up. But there's more to marketing than just lead generation.

Our Marketing 360 assessment will help you identify other potential issues and offer advice on how to solve them.

Take the 360 test


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