How to fix your lead handover process

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Failed handover. Credit: TableAtNY (Used under Creative Commons License)
Failed handover. Credit: TableAtNY (Used under Creative Commons License)

Lead handover is often the cause of much tension between marketing and sales teams. The process has traditionally been conducted like a relay race, with leads passed from marketing to sales like a torch that needs to reach the finish line. However, this approach has not only caused significant finger-pointing between the two groups, it also results in a good number of leads failing to blossom into quality customer relationships.

According to Forrester, 89% of first sales calls fail whilst 88% of salespeople say they don’t have enough lead data when they make a call. For Marketing, this sounds like a problem for Sales to fix: the leads have been handed over, we’ve done our job, let them deal with the mess…

However, in a recent webinar with idio, Laura Ramos of Forrester suggested that “Marketing’s new imperative is Sales support…moving from nurturing leads to creating a shared customer context”. Or, to put it in another way: your marketing team’s most important client is your sales team.

How then can marketing best enable sales to do a better job with new leads?

Don’t pass on leads that aren’t sales ready
Every marketing team worth its salt feels a positive pressure to over-deliver on MQLs (marketing qualified leads). Unfortunately, that enthusiasm often means leads are prematurely handed over to sales reps who inevitably find that the person they are dealing with is nowhere near sales-ready.

To remedy this, consider investing in a lead scoring tool: these help marketers to gauge how sales-ready a prospect is based on their activity and interactions with the organization’s online marketing. The more interactions, the higher the score.

Agree on the definition of a ‘Sales Accepted Lead’
The definition of a SAL differs between an organization depending on product, industry and buyer profile, however the process of defining it will be the same for everyone: getting Sales and Marketing heads in a room and not leaving until a consensus has been arrived at.

Move from lead gen to lead context
It’s no longer enough to produce a lead with a job title, a lead score and a name (remember those 88% of sales reps complaining that this is not enough?). These are helpful but clearly not enough to get the job done.

Below is our Sales Hierarchy of Lead Data Needs – it outlines idio’s position on the optimal types of information sales teams need when a lead is handed to them:

The Salesperson's Hierarchy of Lead Data Needs
The Salesperson’s Hierarchy of Lead Data Needs

Our sales team use idio for Salesforce to understand each lead’s interests and needs as revealed by their consumption of marketing content. This enables our reps to have relevant, informed conversations with prospective buyers based on actual pain-points, rather than assumptions made on job titles and purchase history information – to great effect.

Recommend content for Sales to use post-handover
Useful research done by the guys over at Kapost revealed that 65% of sales reps say they can’t find content to send to prospects. This was the most common complaint cited by sales teams in their research sample.

To make sure marketing content is more useful for sales reps, it is incumbent upon the Marketing team to make sure content is well categorized, relevant and accessible at the right time. This means that content should be tagged with useful and informative metadata (such as a ‘theme’ or ‘topic’) that allows a salesperson to search and retrieve it quickly. A busy salesperson isn’t going to be able to retroactively find and tag content – this is Marketing’s job.

Improving your lead handover process

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Likewise, a perfect lead handover process will also take time to emerge in an organization. Hopefully the steps above provide a useful blueprint to getting the process underway!

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