Break-Up With Your Cold Inside Sales Leads

Being the optimists that about 90% of humans are, we always hope that inside sales leads which have gone cold are not yet lost. 

There are several theories you could make to justify why you have not been able to budge the prospect forward.

Maybe it’s because decision makers are putting out internal fires or a new strategic priority has emerged. Maybe your competitor has been enticing them and they’ve decided to take more time to consider the alternatives. Maybe they’ve got cold feet about committing to a large purchase.

But, not every lead is worth taking forward and spending time on.

As businesses, we must also know when to end the relationship with them.

Why break up with your Inside Sales Leads?


Like in any inventory, there is a cost of holding, involved with leads too. Precious resources that otherwise could be allocated towards a new target are utilized up by stagnant leads.

Imagine a clogged pipe.

Now look at your sales pipeline. You have that promising prospect, the one you made contact with, who even gave off a hint of interest, but then simply laid down a futon in your pipeline. Efforts get intercepted, opportunities get missed and on the other side of the pipe, reaches only a thin stream.

Being the hopeless optimists, we are, we keep hoping that there will come a day when he finally converts.

When to break up with your lead is no rocket science.

How much time has a rep invested in the prospect? If the time has been invested in trying to get a decision from someone who might never buy, there’s no point continuing to chase that lead.

Why read an article for something so simple?

I quote Deb Calvert, the author of DISCOVER Questions – “one should give up when there is no longer any opportunity to avail. Your time is valuable and it’s futile to waste it on watering  hollow seeds.”

Doing lead management and Making a decision about whether a lead truly is cold however, is directly related to the number of times a rep has called the prospect.

Calvert says it’s about weighing the effort a salesperson has put into convincing the prospect with the size of the opportunity the prospect represents. And this, honestly, made wonderful sense to me.

Simply put, if a rep has a chance to close a big deal by just somehow connecting with his prospect, he should keep calling. The amount of time put into any prospect, however, should not outweigh the opportunity presented. Give bigger opportunities more time on your list. But know when to give up.

But do you just keep calling them?

When to say goodbye?

It’s in your interest to give up on a prospect when :

  • More than four weeks have passed since the expiration date to a proposal and calls aren’t being returned
  • The rep has made at least 10 call attempts per week for four consecutive weeks without a response.
  •  The decision maker has said “no” and has given a good reason for it.

‘No’ is a blessing. Why?

You find out the reason why people don’t want your product and also stop wasting your time on dead ends.

Try to corner the lead once the appropriate efforts have been put in and get a decisive answer.

Art Schoback, author of business by phone suggests “There is just a few letter’s difference between ‘persistence’ and ‘pest’ and you don’t want to cross that line.”

A ‘no’ today is better than climbing mountains you’ll never summit and worse yet, it might spoil your image as being a nuisance.

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All said, one shouldn’t misunderstand. A salesperson should never completely give up on any qualified prospect.

Check on your leads on a regular basis, even if they are cold, you never know where you might just stumble into a bit of luck.

Leads are hard to come by. You shouldn’t waste them. Check in on them during the holidays, say ‘hi’ every 4-6 months or so. You don’t have to cut them loose completely, but if they need time, you’re only smothering them if you don’t back off a little.

You can even use cold leads in creative ways. Like training your new recruits or instigating referrals if you get on good enough terms.

If you know of any circumstances a cold lead has come through please do share in the comments. I’d love to read about it.

If you like this watch our infographic on the 10 Types of Sales Leads That Will Make you Quiver.

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