by Peter Strid
on February 3, 2016

Don’t Neglect Your “Zombie” Sales Leads. They Can Come Back to Life!

In a mature B2B sales operation, Marketing and Sales have to communicate with each other. Part of that communication is to invent an internal language specifically designed to identify the treatment of prospects and leads and where they came from.

Questions considered: How did they find us? Webinar, Trade show, Referral, Google Search, LinkedIn Post, Tweet, Sales Cold Call, etc.

The purpose of categorization here is to track what is a successful method of getting prospects into the top of the funnel. If we can identify a channel where good leads come from, we can invest in the replication of that method. Here is a simple example:

If webinars are driving a significant amount of interest in our product and the close ratio of those deals is high, there is simple answer…let’s invest in more webinars!

Is your sales process mature? Most sales structures I’ve worked in or been exposed to keep track of the leads that funnel into the business with the following language:

  • MQLMarketing Qualified Lead: Loosely categorized as any lead that comes in from the various sources mentioned above.
  • SALSales Accepted Lead: A lead that fits the profile of the ideal type of client (i.e., these guys could use our product).
  • SQL – Sales Qualified Lead: Sales has discovered that the lead has a need and budget for a purchase.
  • SQOSales Qualified Opportunity: Sales has moved this “lead” and converted it into an opportunity.

What about the dead lead? Often times, a lead just sits there, dying on the vine. Maybe they weren’t ready to make a decision or your buyer got laid off. Maybe they gave your sales rep the cold shoulder or they were assigned to an underperforming sales rep who was “downsized”. Sometimes you lose the deal to a competitor. Whatever the reason, you are classifying them as “dead”.  Well, unlike Rick and the crew from The Walking Dead, you have the ability to bring those “dead” leads back to life.

walking dead

About 2 years ago I was working with the sales team at PeopleLinx to categorize our leads inside of our CRM ( We needed a name for these seemingly “dead” leads because we wanted to hit them hard with drip content campaigns, #socialselling activity and cold calling efforts to bring them back to life. The “ZQL” was born (Zombie Qualified Lead)!

Our “ZQL” process has produced significant fruit. When a lead has been sitting for too long or we’ve qualified them as “Dead no decision” they are immediately recycled into “ZQL” status and we start over with them.  Sometimes you might consider retargeting at the same account but with a different buyer.

Real ZQL Use Case: We had been calling on a fortune 500 brand for over 1 year. After significant effort and investment, we proceeded to proposal stage with a Jr. level buyer who unfortunately had little influence. This buyer had very little ability to attain budget for the purchase. The deal was eventually ZQL’d because it became clear that this was a dead end. The ZQL lead was then recycled to an inside sales rep. The sales rep added it to a list of prospects who were already educated on our offer, but the pursuit of account required us to find a new buyer…retargeting commence! Along with adding this account into a steady email drip campaign, (let’s save the “marketing automation” conversation for another time) we used LinkedIn and Twitter to identify a new “sponsor”. Opportunities arose to use social listening on LinkedIn and Twitter to follow this individual and an engagement strategy was started, ultimately leading to a new conversation. The prospect was re-qualified into the funnel and a deal closed 2 months later.

This strategy is not a one-off occurrence. It is possible to utilize this method very often and when done correctly the ZQL list can be brought back to life. We’ve also proven that going beyond the standard marketing “drip campaign” and adding social listening and engagement actions can yield better results. The beauty of social selling in action.

How are you treating your dead leads? Do you have a similar process or qualification? We’d love to hear from you.

Want to teach your sales team new skills on reviving dead leads? Make sure the sales training you invest in sticks. Register for our FREE webinar: How to Drive Higher Adoption of New Sales Skills and Behaviors.

adoption of new sales skills

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.

PeopleLinx has joined FRONTLINE Selling! Click here for the press release.