The Case for Sending Sales Fewer, More Qualified Leads—and Why it Takes C-Level Involvement to Make it Happen
Ask the sales reps you know which they’d rather have, more leads or better leads, and the answer is the same. They’ll tell you they’d rather have two sales-qualified leads than 100 raw unfiltered ones.
Alas, sales has grown used to receiving a continuing stream of untrustworthy leads. So many leads that aren’t filtered, aren’t qualified and aren’t nurtured come their way they’ve learned to not pay them much attention. In fact, on average, 90% of leads don’t even get followed up.
Early on in these sales reps’ tenure they likely worked every one but soon realized that trying to find the handful of good leads buried in the rubbish wasn’t worth their time. So the leads marketing spent so much effort (and dollars) to generate go to waste.
This reality—sales doesn’t follow up on marketing’s leads—is universal. Sales thinks marketing isn’t giving them what they need, and marketing thinks sales is ungrateful. So why don’t more organizations insert a formal lead filtration, qualification and nurturing process that keeps both marketing and sales productively driving revenue for the benefit of the enterprise as a whole?
It takes C-level leadership to make this happen. Without it, marketing stays siloed, sales stays siloed. Marketing counts the number of leads generated and sales counts the number of deals closed. Both play the blame game. And no one takes responsibility for what’s supposed to happen in the middle.
Corporate leadership must initiate objectives structured for the mutual benefit of the company, rather than for each discipline. Yes, marketing should be good at generating lots of leads and sales should close the ones ready to buy. But a leader over both marketing and sales needs to require that all leads be kept alive. There needs to be clear responsibility and incentives to:
- Determine the definition of a lead that both marketing and sales can agree upon.
- Analyze the short- and long-term potential of each and every lead.
- Continue contact that reveals additional intelligence and keeps your company top-of-mind.
- Conduct research that helps the sales reps when the time is ripe.
Either marketing can do it, or sales can, or an outsourced firm can take on the responsibility. What matters most is that 1) the filtration, qualification and nurturing process is mandated, and 2) The process needs to be done by specialized professionals, not by those charged with marketing automation or those with a quota to meet.
Only 2% to 6% of buyers are ready when initially contacted, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile prospects. Protect your investment and work your leads until they’re ready to ensure the productivity and cooperation of both marketing and sales.