The Correct Way to Define a Lead

Too often, when marketing leaders sit down with their counterparts in sales to discuss lead definitions, the only factor considered is what sales wants. While this discussion is relevant and valuable, the result is typically one of two scenarios:

  • “Cream of the Crop” Leads. These leads may fulfill all the requirements of BANT (budget, authority, need, timeframe), but they are so expensive and difficult to generate that marketing exhausts its resources delivering a very low quantity. The ultimate result is a shallow pipeline.

  • “Do Nothing” Leads. When sales teams lack faith in the nurture process, they ask for demographic-specific leads and for immediate handoff without any marketing TLC. This tactic may be quicker on the front end, but it leads to low productivity, as sales must sift through a high quantity of very low quality leads that essentially necessitates cold calling everyone.

To avoid these scenarios and increase sales productivity, consider the following factors to help sales and marketing define and agree on lead quality:

  • Demand type. A shared understanding between marketing and sales of the type of demand being created significantly impacts the level to which leads can be qualified.

  • Sales structure, deal complexity and average selling price. Inside sales teams usually sell lower-priced products, therefore they can handle a higher quantity of lower-quality leads. Field reps target bigger, more complex deals and are rarely in the office, so a lower volume of higher-quality leads is more appropriate for them. Finally, reps who focus on large, named enterprise accounts aren’t necessarily looking for leads from marketing as much as they are looking for sales enablement.

  • Other lead sources. If marketing wants sales to value and follow up on the leads it delivers, it must have a clear understanding of other lead sources (e.g. partner referrals, customer referrals). This insight can guide marketing and sales to better define the quantity and quality of the leads marketing should deliver.

  • Time and cost. Everybody knows that highly qualified leads cost more and take longer to generate. Less obvious are the sales costs associated with leads that are qualified too deeply or not deeply enough. It’s best to establish the happy medium up front so you are optimizing productivity on either end.

  • What is possible. Too often, marketing agrees to deliver leads of a quantity and quality it can’t possibly produce. When defining lead quality, marketing commitments must reflect an honest assessment of what can actually be achieved.

By taking the time to consider the factors described above, sales and marketing leaders have a much better chance of defining lead quality/quantity goals that are appropriate and balanced. Keep in mind that at this stage we are looking for increased accuracy, not perfection.

Want more insight on how sales and marketing can work together to gain more quality leads?

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