In part 1 of this series we discussed the troubling statistic that 70 – 94% of leads generated by marketing are ignored by sales. Part of the problem is the misuse of valuable data that results from marketing contact. The first type of data we’ll look at is what we call the “pipeline” disposition*. A “pipeline” disposition is a prospect that is just one or two touches away from being converted to a sales-ready lead.
Inside sales support reps, just like field sales reps, are attuned to opportunities that are not immediate, but likely imminent. At the same time an inside sales support rep is working to identify leads for your team, they should also be identifying prospects that are just one or two “touches” away from being ready to pass to sales. In our work for clients we find that 20 – 40% of pipeline dispositions are converted to high quality, sales-ready leads. So, rather than generating five leads for every one hundred suspects, you can generate 1 – 2 more incremental leads from just five prospects that are labeled as “pipeline.”
With a pipeline disposition, while the company and contact are qualified AND show interest, the timing isn’t right. The prospect is involved in another “fire-fight” and needs time. Or, the prospect is at fiscal year-end and buried. Or, perhaps they need time to allow your product or solution value and/or differentiators to settle in their minds prior to moving forward. Whatever the reason, staying in front of the prospect (via value added emails and occasional telephone contact) is critical to maintaining position in the account and converting a higher percentage of the pipeline dispositions to fully qualified leads.
The difference between a lead and a pipeline is often subtle. So much so that many companies think they are sending sales-ready leads to sales, when in fact, they are actually sending pipeline dispositions. But why split hairs? Because, when pipeline dispositions are delivered as sales-ready leads, sales is set up with false expectations. Inevitably, they engage prospects with the wrong approach. As contacts put off responses or fail to respond altogether, over time, sales becomes jaded—thinking marketing delivers nothing but poor quality leads.
Handing a lead off to sales when it is not sales ready is wasteful, yet prevalent.
In the next installment we will talk about another type of valuable data: “nurture” dispositions—how and why to nurture them.
Read the other posts in my "Nurturing" series:
Part 2: This post*Disposition - noun: the classification of a prospect account as determined after a cycle of lead qualification activity; verb: to classify prospect accounts using a cycle of lead qualification activity. Standard PointClear disposition categories include: Lead, Pipeline, Nurture, Disqualified, No Response, Bad.