When Does a Lead Become a True “Sales Lead?”
Your demand generation campaigns are bound to generate responses. But are these all leads, worthy of follow-up by your sales reps? Even inexperienced marketers know that the majority of responses are simply inquiries: people seeking more information or responding to a promotional offer.
Distributing raw inquiries to your sales reps without at least some basic qualification mechanism to categorize the ones that are true sales leads can be a suicidal experience. So, the real question is: how do you identify a legitimate “sales lead?”
Today, with the plethora of CRM and sales automation tools available to marketers, there is a tendency for marketing committees and consultants to overcomplicate the process and devise ever-changing formulas, scoring mechanisms, and rules to make this determination. At ALEA, we have found that, regardless of our clients’ business, a sales lead can ALWAYS be defined by five simple criteria:
1. Right company or demographic– They fit the profile of the organizations or people that are already your best customers.
2. Right person– A person who is a decision maker, champion, influencer or at least a recommender.
3. Real pain point– The prospect has indicated a need for your services/products and has a keen interest about what you are offering.
4. Realistic decision timeline– The prospect has a strong likelihood of making a “buy” decision soon and has the budget to pay for it.
5. Willingness to engage– The prospect is ready and willing to receive further sales contact. At ALEA, we call this the “glue.” If a prospect is not willing to have a sales dialogue, nothing else matters.
The Critical Importance of Nurturing
Any inquiry that does not fit the above criteria should not be passed on to your sales reps. Instead, it should be classified as a prospect that needs to be further qualified and nurtured. This task is best accomplished by trained human beings, not by CRM software or sales automation tools.
This is not a complicated process. Yet, it is interesting to witness the debates raging on blogs regarding lead scoring and how it should be done. You do not need marketing committees and expensive consultants to help you decide what a lead should be. It’s time to re-inject some common sense into this critical exercise.