What’s a Lead?
A recent report by Aberdeen Group, Sales Effectiveness: Helping Sales Sell, concludes: “The number one issue for most CEOs and marketers is lead generation—getting more leads to their sales team.” The number one desire for salespeople, however, is more selling time with sales-ready opportunities.
You must realize that the extreme time pressure salespeople face—especially those with a complex sale—requires them to ignore what is not immediately relevant and highly likely to produce revenue. Why? They are not paid to do anything else. And that makes quality more important than quantity to them.
If you are in marketing, are you currently sending your sales team qualified leads or merely inquiries? There is a difference. An inquiry is an interested party who has requested information and needs some level of assistance. But inquiries are not leads. A lead isn’t a lead until it’s been qualified.
Numerous lead qualification programs have shown that as little as 5 percent to 15 percent of all inquiries are truly sales-ready opportunities. If inquiries are sent to the sales team as leads without first being qualified, then many will turn out not ready for a salesperson to attempt to close and thus are more or less a waste of time for sales.
The biggest mistake made by marketers is to give mere inquiries to a salesperson. When inquiries are handed off without being methodically qualified, it doesn’t take the sales department long to start viewing all marketing-generated “leads” with skepticism. And without well-defined criteria of what constitutes a qualified sales lead, the wheat mixed in with the chaff has little chance of improving to sales-ready status or being accepted by the salesforce.
There is a systematic process for successful qualification that includes specific steps. This article highlights those steps, while paying special attention to the critical role the telephone plays in that process.