Creating a Sales Process for Your Inbound Leads: 150 is a Magic Number

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Mark Kilens
Mark Kilens



sales process 150I get this question all the time. “When should I or my sales reps try to connect with our inbound leads?”

My response: “How many leads are you generating per month, per salesperson?”

Why do I ask this?

Because, if the answer is 150 or less, your salesperson or team should be calling and/or emailing every single lead. 

Don’t have the time or staff to do this? Then it’s time to hire someone that does have the time.

Brian Thorne, HubSpot’s Sales Director, has each salesperson connect with 150-200 leads per month. HubSpot generates tens of thousands of leads and we have automated processes to sort and rank each lead. However, if HubSpot was only generating 150 leads per salesperson, you bet Brian would have his reps connect with each lead. 

But, you say, what about all those lifecycle stages HubSpot is always going on about? Isn’t it possible that some (or even many) of the leads we get in a given month won’t yet be in the right lifecycle stage for a sales contact?

Sure, there are many different lifecycle stages that a lead might be in at any given time. The lead might be merely a Lead, perhaps a Marketing Qualified Lead, or even a bona fide Opportunity.

But it’s a person who needs to define the lifecycle stage of each of your leads. Not an automated process. Not lead scoring, not lead nurturing. A person.

Does this mean that your salesperson need to be willing to call leads who might not yet be ready to close? It sure does. And this might very well require some additional training. But it all pays off exponentially in the end.

Inbound leads are the best kind of lead you can get. These leads explicitly gave you their information, and if you set the right expectations during the initial encounter they have with you on your website, they will be delighted -- not dismayed -- when you follow up and they receive an email or call from you.

What’s the first thing you say to the lead in a phone call or email ? Simple.

Hi Mark, I was notified that you came to our website and recently downloaded (reference the conversion event). Do you remember doing that? Great! What were you looking for help with?

That’s it. It’s to the point and asks a fairly open-ended question. From here, the lead’s response could go in a number of different directions. But what’s most important is that what the sales rep says next should not be sales-related unless the lead specifically ask him or her a sales-related question. Because what you are initiating here is a consultative sales process.

If the lead is clearly unready to talk to a sales rep, then your salesperson should politely conclude the call, then decide if it’s appropriate to add this lead to an existing lead nurturing campaign. (Now would also be a good time to ask yourself if you have the right lead nurturing campaigns set up in order to deal with all of the various stages a lead might be in when they enter your sales process. If you don’t, build them now.)

If the lead is an open frame of mind and seems willing to talk, your salesperson should then ask a few additional questions (to further define the lead’s current lifecycle stage, needs and concerns, etc.) and then provide the lead with whatever free tips and recommendations that they might find helpful. Remind your reps to always ask: How? Who? What? When? Where? Why? questions.

End the call or follow up via email with a restatement of the suggested next steps you covered in the call. Ask your lead if they agree with those next steps. Next steps could consist of setting up another call, sending along more educational content, or even just taking a few days to mull things over.

Of course, the key to setting up a sales process that works for inbound leads is to develop a repeatable process that each team member is trained on, understands, and executes.

As my fellow HubSpotter Chris LoDolce always says:

“You can forget what you learn, but you can’t forget what you understand.”

Join me for this month’s #InboundLearning webinar series “How to Coach Sales to Close Your Inbound Leads.” You’ll learn why the marketing team needs to train your sales team, what sales needs from marketing in terms of qualified leads, and how to bring marketing and sales closer together.

And we’ll have a very special guest joining us during this webinar series -- Marcus Sheridan, also known as The Sales Lion, will be sharing with us his Assignment Selling framework.

Please join the conversation below. Let’s help each other close more business.

To learn more about how to sell the inbound way, view our "Taking Your Sales Process Inbound" class from our free Inbound Certification curriculum.

Topics: Inbound Sales

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