The sales manager, Mark, was adamant that his salespeople were following up the good leads and only ignoring the unqualified, ‘never-gonna-buy’ leads. “They know instinctively,” he said, “who the buyers are, and Marketing isn’t finding enough ‘good’ leads. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you’re giving us crap more than 50% of the time; they’re students, prisoners and competitors.”
Was he right?
The marketing manager, Sylvia, on the other hand said, “Certainly we spend the company’s money on our best bet for qualified leads, but when it comes down to it we know that half of what we find are not buyers, but only Sales can be the final arbitrator.”
Has it occurred to you, as you sit in meetings and listen to salespeople rant and rave about the quality of sales leads, that neither of you is right, and neither of you is wrong? You both want the same thing: a person who is qualified to buy. In most cases, until someone talks to the prospect, there is no way to know if they are qualified to buy (after all, inquirers aren’t honest in answering all of the qualifying questions).
So, the question is: who qualifies the prospect?
For the majority of inquiries (more than 50%), I believe that Marketing can get enough information from the prospect forms submitted to decide if the inquirer is “sales ready.” You can find out if that person has a serious interest, has authority, has funds, has a time frame and actually needs your product. Dan McDade is going crazy reading this because I slipped BANT into the conversation. Dan may believe BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Time Frame) is dead, but on the other hand, I think that salespeople will always want the basics if they have these answers.
If Marketing can prequalify the unqualified (even use a qualification service) before the inquirer is labeled a “lead” and passed along to sales, life is easier for many people in the organization.
- Marketing likes prequalifying inquirers. It’s more work, but that is what they do.
- Sales management likes prequalified leads because it shortens the sales cycle and makes better use of the salesperson’s time.
- Salespeople like it for the same reasons as sales management.
- CFOs learn to like it, but they have to realize that marketing expenses may go up slightly while sales expenses can drop significantly.
- Company presidents learn to like it because sales turnover drops and therefore sales expenses are down, contributing to profitability.
And to think all of this happens because Marketing does its job of creating qualified leads and Sales does its job of following up 100% of all leads (that’s a horse of a different color).
Time to make a decision.
As a marketing manager you have to make the following decision: “Will you create quality over quantity?” If the answer is yes, it is a three-step process.
- Qualify all inbound inquiries, regardless of source – for a minimum of 50%.
- Use telemarketing and lead nurturing to qualify the unqualified.
- Send only sales-ready leads to the sales channel.
Qualifying sales leads is simpler than you think and less costly than you imagine.
This blog was submitted by James Obermayer, Executive Director and CEO of the Sales Lead Management Association and President of Sales Leakage Consulting. James is a regular guest blogger with ViewPoint.