The Lead Qualification Battle
When lead generation, lead qualification & nurturing and closing sales-ready leads are all in sync; life is great between Sales and Marketing. However, things can go bad quickly when one or all of these elements are no longer in perfect harmony. We’ve heard it all before, Marketing argues that Sales rejects their leads; Sales responds that the marketing leads are not qualified. Sales complains that they don’t get enough leads from Marketing, and Marketing complains that Sales doesn’t follow up on the leads they are given. The unfortunate consequence is that many lead generation campaigns ultimately fail because no one follows up on the good leads that are generated.
According to research by Forrester Research, only 8% of B2B companies surveyed said they have tight alignment between sales and marketing teams. In a perfect world, Marketing will send Sales the most qualified leads and Sales, in turn, will close every opportunity – perfect harmony. However, in reality, Sales often doesn’t follow up because the leads Marketing sends over were considered weak, saying it’s a waste of time.
With 92% of companies not having strong alignment, how can organizations triumph this lead qualification battle and ultimately win the war? Identifying what a sales-ready lead is must be the first step. All this seems basic, but many companies lack a clear definition of how to define a qualified sales lead. Miscommunication leads to missed revenue targets, wasted budget dollars and possibly more distrust between Marketing and Sales. Companies that aren’t asking this essential question of BOTH their marketing AND sales teams will find that they are producing poor ROI from their lead generation efforts.
Marketing is tasked to develop a well planned and executed lead generation campaign. Al l leads should be categorized or scored before sharing them with sales. All sales-ready leads must be segmented by Marketing and passed to Sales while they are still “hot.” The problem is that up to 95% of prospects are not yet ready to talk with a sales rep, according to research by Brian Carroll. The majority of these leads are still of high quality and have potential to be a valuable customer with a strong lead nurturing strategy in place. In the simplest definition, lead nurturing is about building solid relationships with the right people. It’s about having consistent and meaningful communication regardless of time to buy. Lead nurturing research has proven that early-stage leads, often ignored by Sales, represent 40 to 70 percent of potential sales.