Challenge: Defining operations where marketing meets sales.
Even with a tight definition of a qualified lead, the process can still easily break down. Leads delivered but not follow up on are the very definition of a leaky funnel. In other cases, leads can be passed without truly meeting the lead criteria. The process needs real checks and balances.
A lead development rep needs a specific set of procedure steps to follow in order to successfully pass a lead to the sales rep. This includes placing a time stamp on the lead showing the exact time it was passed to the sales rep. The sales rep then has a limited time to engage with the lead and then approve or reject the lead. After all, leads don’t get better with age.
There must be discipline in this process so that a lead accepted by sales is required to be converted into an opportunity the sales team will manage starting at an agreed-upon sales stage. This will enforce sales discipline on the subsequent follow up of these accepted leads. This also puts ‘skin in the game’ for the sales rep that they cannot accept any lead – as they will be queried by sales management about the status of this new opportunity.
On the other side, specifying the criteria does not let marketing off the hook if a prospect fills out a form and identifies themselves as meeting the criteria – e.g., they have budget or plans to purchase in six months. Prospects regularly inflate the numbers when they fill out these forms and these prospects need further qualification to ensure they meet the criteria. This may often involve a phone call – but could also require further inquiry via email, IM or subsequent offers. The lead development rep must ensure that the criteria are met BEFORE the lead is passed to the sales rep. The intent of having lead qualification reps is to increase the overall productivity of the sales reps. If the lead development rep passes on junk leads, sales efficiency is reduced.
Lesson: A tight definition combined with a solid acceptance process is a recipe for marketing and sales harmony.