On more occasions than we can count, we’ve heard Sales Directors suggest that in their experience the leads generated by marketing are of sub-par quality. While in the very same day Heads of Marketing will point out that their efforts are wasted as sales are ineffective in following up and closing the leads they send across.
These two opinions, seemingly conflicted are often rooted in the same core issue- the lead handover process. This disconnect between the two departments is a common issue faced by many B2B organisations with the 2016 HubSpot sate of Inbound Report highlighting that 70% of participating sales teams would only give marketing-generated leads 3 out of 5 stars.
A combination of direct and digital lead generation can be shown to produce the highest quality leads but not knowing when to transition these leads from marketing to sales can greatly impact your overall results and ultimately the quality of the leads generated.
By working together with marketing, sales can establish a comprehensive lead handover process which identifies a sales ready lead and allows for each lead to be prioritised allowing both teams to maximise both their time and resources.
MQLs to SQLs
The rate at which MQLs convert to SQLs is a critical KPI for both departments and one which should be closely monitored. The ongoing optimisation of this conversation rate should be something which is routinely considered within all organisations.
By avoiding these 5 mistakes in the lead handover process; both sales and marketing can work to ensure that their lead to opportunity conversion rate is performing well-above industry standards:
Mistake Number 1: Handing over leads from marketing to sales too early
Marketing can become enthusiastic about the number of leads they are generating; feeling a positive pressure to overdeliver on targets and goals. This influx in leads can result in leads being handed over which are not sales ready; a reality which is unfortunately becoming increasingly more common in the digital age.
Today, B2B buyers of IT and Technology products and services are much more inclined to self-navigate their journey through the awareness and the consideration stages of their journey. Only becoming willing to engage with a sales representative as they draw close to making their final decision. This change in buyer behaviour makes it even more critical that leads are not being passed from marketing to sales before this crucial point or else organisations run the risk of burning what could have been a high value prospect.
In order to avoid this mistake, a lead scoring system can be established to illustrate the sales readiness of each lead based on their activity and engagements with marketing materials. Only once a lead has scored enough points through high engagement levels should they then be handed over to sales.
Mistake Number 2: Not using a shared list of qualification criteria
One of the most frustrating things which can be heard by any sales and marketing team is that a lead doesn’t qualify. The sales team see their pool of potential prospects diminish and marketing see their time, effort and resource go to waste.
When sales and marketing work together they can determine an established qualification criteria at each progressive stage of the lead generation process. This means that before an MQL is passed from marketing to sales, both can be assured that it meets a basic minimum requirement for sales to consider progressing it to an opportunity status. This lead qualification criteria ensures that the pool of prospects sales are engaging with is of the highest quality and no time will be wasted on leads which will clearly never produce ROI.
Mistake Number 3: Not establishing clear indicators of lead ownership and follow up protocols
The idea that once the lead handover has occurred, marketing can wash their hands of it, is perhaps a common one. But it is also one that can cause a number of leads to become lost, stuck in limbo, never to become a fully qualified sales opportunity or customer.
Understanding exactly where a prospect is in their buyer’s journey and what kind of attention they need to progress through from MQL, SQO and customer is critical for lead generation success.
With an established staging system for all leads, both sales and marketing can be assured that they can quickly identify all leads within their care and the follow up actions required to continue their nurturement and progression to customer. This is essential in cases where, for whatever reason, sales must pass back a lead to marketing for re-qualification.
Along with defined ownership of set groups of leads, follow-up protocols must be put in place to ensure that all leads receive the right level of attention at just the right time. Too slow and you run the risk of letting a competitor get the better of you. Too fast and you appear too pushy and much too salesy. Each lead can be different but striking this balance with established follow up guidelines can make sure that the lead conversion rates are at their peak.
Mistake Number 4: Not closing the feedback loop
It is inevitable that some leads just won’t come into fruition, no matter what anyone does. But other leads will crash and burn for very specific reasons, some within the control of sales and marketing and others out with it.
By incorporating feedback into the lead handover process, both sales and marketing run the risk of not learning from previous lead generation failures.
The feedback sales can provide marketing on how each lead progresses can provide invaluable insights which can be incorporated into the development of buyer personas and other lead generation activities.
Mistake Number 4: Handing leads over without proper context
The most successful sales people today are not the ones who can best push their product- flashy lines and smooth talking have been replaced. Today, those in sales must be consultants; listening to their prospects goals and challenges and offering advice and the resources needed to identify and address these challenges.
No longer can marketing simply handover the name, job title and some contact details for their leads. With marketing automation tools, each and every interaction a lead has had with marketing materials can be recorded and used to reveal essential intelligence, such as their interests and needs. By providing such context and background information on a lead, sales consultants can engage in relevant, informed conversations with prospective buyers based on their actual pain points, rather than leading with assumptions or sales pitches.
By making sure your lead handover process avoids these 5 mistakes you can be assured that the MQLs generated by your marketing team stand the greatest chance of converting into SQOs and ultimately highly valued customers. But for more tips on ensuring your leads are progressing into qualified opportunities why not download our Ultimate Sales Handbook?
The Ultimate Sales Handbook for Progressing Leads