The Perils of Wasted Time For Sales Teams

August 2, 2017 Mark Emmons

Imagine a solitary lead. It has appeared in your database. Hopefully, over time, it will grow and develop into a closed deal for your business. But right now, it’s still just a lonely lead.

And you need to help it get to the right home.

Sounds like a plot to a Disney movie, doesn’t it? Well, you do want a heartwarming ending.

So with that in mind, just think about the manual effort often required to make sure that valuable lead reaches the correct sales rep who can dazzle the prospect with the right information about your products. Questions need to be answered. Lots of them. For instance, is this lead:

  • Already in our system?
  • Part of a known account?
  • Associated with other leads?
  • At a company that fits our target market?
  • Involved in an active opportunity?
  • Part of a closed-lost opportunity?
  • A current customer?
  • A partner or a competitor?

That kind of research takes time. It’s not time spent actually selling, mind you. This is just to make sure the lead gets to the proper place instead of withering away in a default queue or just disappearing into oblivion. In fact, that tedious work of investigating and assigning can take up to five minutes, per lead. Seriously. But don’t just take our word for it.

Nick Ezzo, when he was the vice president of demand generation at Host Analytics, estimated that his SDRs took three to five minutes evaluating every lead. Bluewolf, the original Salesforce CRM consulting firm, determined an average of four-and-a-half minutes was needed to research each of its leads. Lars Nilsson, vice president of global inside sales at Cloudera, said it took his team five minutes to evaluate a lead.

Remember, that’s for each lead. Now do the math for all the leads entering your system each week, month and quarter. It can add up. The cumulative total is the amount of the time people in your business are wasting if they have to manually process leads. This matters, of course, because time is money in business.

That brings us to the great conundrum in modern B2B selling. Technology has helped businesses know more than ever about potential customers. Yet that hasn’t necessarily translated into more time devoted to customer-facing activities.

For instance, consulting firm Accenture found nearly 65 percent of a rep’s time is consumed by non-selling activities. Doug Landis, a growth partner at Emergence Capital who previously was at Box, has estimated that only about 25 percent of a rep’s work day is spent on what he calls “engaged selling time” — moving a deal along the sales process. The rest is spent on administrative tasks . . . such as research and assigning leads.

There’s also another painful cost in lost time — delays in lead follow-up. Lack of speed kills deals. Study after study has shown that the likelihood of a lead converting drops precipitously as time passes. In other words, hot leads can grow cold quickly as the clock ticks.

That’s why automating lead flow can be such a strategic advantage for businesses. Automation creates efficiencies that boost productivity by:

  1. Eliminating busywork so teams can focus on generating revenue
  2. Ensuring leads are still nice and warm when the sales team responds
  3. Assuring the right rep follows up with the right information

Each of us has a limited amount of time to, well, get stuff done. Marketers want to focus on the campaigns that create the pipeline that fuels the business revenue engine. Sales reps want to concentrate on actual selling and hitting their quota.

Anything that gets in the way of those goals is, well, just a waste. And the one thing that’s far too precious to waste . . . is time.

To learn more about LeanData’s automated routing and converting, download our ebook “A Lead’s Journey to Find the Right Home.”


About the Author

Mark Emmons

Mark Emmons is the staff writer at LeanData. He previously was a reporter at the San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and Detroit Free Press. He can be reached at

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