Leads Are For Marketing, Sales Wants Opportunities
I’ve worn both sales and marketing hats so I believe I’ve earned the right to talk a little bit about the roller coaster ride that is the professional life of the salesperson. A salesperson’s worth is measured on whether they’ve met this month’s quota. Not last month or the month before. A year’s worth of meeting quota might buy them a month or two but not much more.
Even if the company they work for is a little more lenient, salespeople don’t thrive on failure. Because of this, salespeople measure every single potential interaction by its potential for driving sales. Imagine on one hand that they have twenty “leads” that they know little about other than basic contact info and that a piece of collateral was sent. In the other they have a pipeline of prospects that have the potential to close this month. Who do you think they are going to call?
So next time you get frustrated because sales isn’t following up on the leads that you are working so hard to generate, take a closer look at those leads. Have you worked with sales to set minimum benchmarks for what constitutes a qualified opportunity? Do these leads meet that minimum benchmark?
If not, don’t send these to sales. You will be wasting leads that could turn into opportunities. You will be distracting your sales team from their primary role – closing business. And, you will be widening the rift that often exists between sales and marketing.
Instead, establish a nurture program for engaging with unqualified leads in a meaningful way. I don’t want to delve too deeply into nurture programs but it’s more than just a call every month to say, “just checking back with you.” Look at ways you can use e-mail campaigns with content useful to the prospect, company blogs, newsletters and other mediums to stay relevant to your prospect.
Throughout this whole process you should be working with the sales team to make sure they understand that you are working to put more opportunities in their hands and fewer unqualified leads. Work with them to establish a definition for a “qualified opportunity”, the number of opportunities they need to reach their quota, and help them understand the nurture program. You’ll go a long way toward bridging the unnecessary divide between sales and marketing. And, their follow-up should improve.