The Four Fastest Ways to Burn a Lead

A sales lead is a precious thing and that’s why sales professionals work tirelessly to market, attract, and qualify them. But it can all be squandered and tossed aside in a single step, or even with a click of a button. Companies waste an astonishing 71 percent of their inbound leads, according to Forbes. As a lead comes in and goes through the sales funnel, you need to avoid any mistakes made along the way. In this blog, we explore what those big mistakes are, how sales professionals can take ownership of those missteps and get their acquisition numbers back on the right trajectory. 

1. Slow Follow-up 

The odds of qualifying a lead decreases by 80 percent when you contact that lead in 10 minutes vs. five minutes from their initial inquiry. Improving response times often means connecting with that lead while they are still poking around on your website. Waiting until the next day to reach out or call means you’re no longer top of mind. Track when a client is opening an email with tools like Yesware, MailTrack® and Pipedrive. You can also utilize the hot-lead notifications feature of Vendasta’s built-in CRM and reach out immediately when you know that a prospect has clicked through an email link in your latest nurture campaign. Then call the prospect with a soft-sell strategy in mind to avoid seeming overbearing.

Instead of a more curt approach like: 

“Hey I noticed that you’re inside the email I sent .” or “Hey I see you’re looking at that email right now. Do you have any questions?”

Try a less direct way of addressing the content you know they just opened. You could use an opening similar to this to get the conversation flowing:

“I sent you some information recently, and there were a number of components in that information that I thought might be of value to you. I was wondering if you’d had a chance to read it?”



The quicker the response time means that the lead is likely still on your website, or maybe they are retaining some of that information in the email you just delivered before they opened 16 others, and now they’re thinking about those brands. So don’t wait to call. The longer you wait the colder the lead gets.

George Leith

Chief Customer Officer, Vendasta

2. Not enough Points of Contact 

Another misstep sales organizations can make is not to touch base often enough, or through a  mix of different mediums. Cadence of contact will vary with every industry, but persistence is important.

Sample Schedule of Contact with a Prospect:

  • Day one: sales qualified lead receives a call and email 
  • Day two: a LinkedIn connection is made and email sent
  • Day three: follow on Twitter and call again 
  • Day five: email and retweet 


Every action you take needs to move a lead closer to a sales discussion. Avoid messages that contain phrases like ‘reaching back out’ and ‘just checking in’ that have no takeaway. Sales professionals need to demonstrate the value of speaking with them every time they connect with a prospect. Prodding communication without value is annoying and will only drive a lead to unfollow and unsubscribe from your nurture efforts.

Pro tip: calls placed on Wednesdays and Thursdays are your best bet. You’ll have more success getting a hold of someone mid-week rather than on Fridays.

“It’s the message that you deliver that touches the audience, and it is the repetition of that message that really gives you that top-of-mind awareness. It ensures a marketing campaign has a hope of reaching its goal. Often, we don’t have enough points of contact and we don’t try hard enough,” Leith says. 


3. Not Having A Specific Person Assigned For Follow up

“We need to understand where the leads are coming from, how they’re being tracked so that we can follow up with them in a timely manner. And then determine who is following up? We also have to learn as much as we can about the customer...and move that knowledge into our talk track, so that when we do follow up, it is purposeful,” Leith says. 

It’s important to ensure your marketing and sales teams work together to track where leads are coming from and who these are being assigned to. Sales professionals  should also ask whether any of the steps being carried out manually can be automated to increase initial response times and keep prospects engaged until an actual person can be assigned for follow up.   

Finally, If your leads are ending up in an all-access spreadsheet wasteland, consider switching to using a customer relationship management or CRM system like those offered through mondayCRM, hubspot or Vendasta.

4. Weak Discovery and Qualification  

Going into a call blind is the fastest way to tank a lead. It’s important to understand that your prospect is an expert in their field and can tell right away if you don’t know what their company does or who they are.

“By doing weak discovery and qualification, we’re just basically throwing product at a wall, or at our customer and hoping something sticks. We’re hoping that they’ve done a ton of research and really understand what their problem is, and we’re just there with the right thing at the right time, at the right price. That’s not sales. That’s called, Amazon,” Leith says.

“What’s going to happen is that customers can just go buy that stuff themselves. They don’t need you, the trusted expert. True sales professionals are doing excellent discovery, not just at one stage of the buyer’s journey, but all the time.”

Steps for Discovery and Qualification: 

  1. Do a quick website search and look up the lead on LinkedIn
  2. See if there are any links that can help you build rapport right away
  3. Nail down key qualifiers like business size, budget, and timeline 
  4. If a customer isn’t the right fit, it’s okay to disqualify a lead


Moving an unqualified lead onto the next selling stage only wastes time that could be spent pursuing qualified leads. If you do need to disqualify a lead, refer them somewhere else that might be a better fit. You can even develop a referral directory to point them to. 

Pro tip: If a lead is not ready to buy just yet, ensure your prospect still has a great interaction with your company and move them back to top of your marketing funnel and nurturing them through a marketing campaign until they are ready.


Just to recap, the fastest ways to burn a lead include:

  1. Dragging your feet on response times
  2. Not reaching out enough times
  3. Not properly tracking and delegating your leads
  4. Not asking the right questions


Sharpen your lead generation and customer acquisition skills with the Fundamental Guide to Lead Generation. Download your free copy, below. ↓

About the Author

Nicole Lauzon is a Content Marketing Manager at Vendasta and has spent the last decade of her career helping local businesses tell their stories. Kickstarting her professional journey as a writer and producer for a major Canadian television network, Nicole would later spend five years as a PR Agency Creative Director, managing brand journalism, social media, blog and video content for corporate, non-profit and local business clients. Whether Nicole is marinating over her next piece of writing or enjoying some down time with her family, she likes doing it in floral print.

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