The management of sales leads is critical to generating Return on Marketing Investment. Sadly, sales leads often land on the scrap heap because marketers throw leads over the wall and then expect sales people to catch them.
Last year, I linked to a David Meerman Scott’s post, Sales Leads Are Too Valuable For Sales People Alone. He just wrote (round two) and I think it’s worth checking out.
David writes, "…Salespeople may argue with me, but I think it is better at the early stages of the buying process NOT to pass names to sales unless the buyer is absolutely ready to move forward…"
I agree. The key is to match readiness of the buyer with expectations of your sales team. Otherwise you’ll have a serious disconnect. You need to examine each lead ask if they are "sales ready" meaning they are ready to speak to a sales person.
Often when prospects have an identified need, they can spend months researching and seeking information on solutions that may satisfy that need. They are seeking education and information but would rather not talk to a sales person yet. This is why I think marketers should hold back and nurture early stage leads (with a human touch) on behalf of their sales team.
The goal of lead nurturing is to maintain a relevant and consistent dialog with viable leads – regardless of their timing to purchase – until they are sales ready. A key aspect of lead nurturing is the ability to provide valuable education and information to prospects up front, so that you become more than an expert; you become a trusted advisor.
Lead nurturing is a multi-touch process. Without lead nurturing program in place, I’ve found that early stage leads receive just 1 or maybe 2 touches before they are handed off to sales people. And that’s not enough, especially if you have a complex sale. At InTouch, we’ve found early stage leads may require 8 to 12 (or more) meaningful nurturing touches before they are truly sales ready.
In cases where your experience tells you that a lead is sales-ready, or would best be in the hands of a salesperson, you should create an exception code or status. I recommend asking the following question, “Can marketing continue to nurture this opportunity until they are more sales-ready or is this a situation best handled by a salesperson?” This is why communication and cooperation between sales and marketing is so important.