A broken lead generation strategy could mean trouble for your sales and marketing team, but not just because of the fundamental misalignment between the two departments. More so because an improper strategy can make you miss your goals. If your organization isn’t doing these three things, then you will miss your number.
1. Have marketing and sales decided on a shared definition for a qualified sales lead?
Every company has a different criterion for what counts as a qualified sales lead, but if sales and marketing don’t see eye to eye on this, then you’re in trouble. When the two departments don’t agree on what they’re working toward, marketing will continue to accuse sales of disregarding leads, and sales will continue to accuse marketing of providing bad leads. Your teams will start to compete, instead of operating in tandem with each other.
If you answered no: Get your marketing and sales teams to work together to come up with agreed upon definitions of a marketing qualified lead, sales accepted lead, and sales qualified lead so that everyone is on the same page. Make sure your teams have clearly defined:
- MQL, a marketing qualified lead, which is a lead that marketing determines to meet the lead definition and worthy of passing to sales
- SAL, a sales accepted lead, which is a lead that sales has agreed meets the definition of a lead and sales assumes responsibility for it
- SQL, a sales qualified lead, which is a lead that results in an closeable opportunity
Additionally, avoid outdated techniques for lead qualification. One such method, BANT, can result in more lost opportunities that than CEO’s and CFO’s care to believe. A BANT qualified lead requires that the lead has a budget in place, the authority, need and a specific timeframe. If you’re using BANT, you might as well answer “No” to question 1 because most BANT qualified leads have already selected a vendor – putting you in the position of providing a competitive quote with no chance of winning.
(Note: while MQL, SQL, and SAL are common terms to describe your leads and their stage in the sales pipeline, different terms might be more appropriate for your business.)
2. Do your marketing and sales teams trust each other?
If your marketing and sales teams don’t trust each other, and you’re hearing things like, “Sales won’t follow up” and “Marketing sends us awful leads,” you might need to reevaluate your overall marketing and sales strategy. Get your teams on the same page with shared goals, and set them up in an environment that inspires collaboration instead of competition. It’s important for both sides to realize that only about 50 percent of leads will result in any feedback. That being said, marketing must be clear about what constitutes an acceptable qualified lead, and sales must follow up on the “sales ready” leads they’re given.
This question follows question 1 because an inability for sales to trust marketing (or vice versa) often times results from an uncommon definition of what makes up a sales qualified lead. Simply put, if you’ve answered “no” to the above question, then you’ve answered “no” to question number 1 for too long.
If you answered no: Senior management should be the one to blame here because the goals for each department aren’t properly set up and executed by both sales and marketing. Only by shifting marketing’s focus to lead quality (instead of lead quantity) and giving sales teams a voice in marketing efforts (instead of being scapegoats), can you get your sales and marketing teams to trust each other. And when that trust comes, you’ll see a positive correlation in your revenue.
3. Do you have a service level agreement?
An SLA is an integral part of an outsourced sales and marketing strategy because it guarantees that the goals of all parties are aligned. Just like defining what a marketing qualified lead and other lead definitions are can help unite sales and marketing, the SLA can provide formal guidance and direction that will lead to sustained growth.
If you answered no: Get all the key players together, including marketing, sales, and the judicial branch (the CEO), to come up with an SLA that suits the needs and goals of your company. This may take time, but it will help you determine important things such as:
- Targets and processes
- Who you’re trying to attract
- Roles and responsibilities
- How to track and measure performance and success
Make sure your SLA doesn’t just look nice on paper. Ensure all parties know what it takes to give your SLA some bite.Without an effective lead generation strategy and the properly aligned sales and marketing teams to implement it, your company will just be running in circles playing the blame game without really accomplishing your revenue goals. If your lead generation strategy is broken, it’s not unreasonable to guess that your revenue goals might be difficult to attain. Get it fixed by entrusting the process to lead development experts and see your revenue grow