The Sales Lead & the Language Police


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At its simplest level, language allows one person to understand another in the course of basic communication.   

On a broader scale, language defines who we are, what groups we belong to and our culture.   

In Quebec, almost 50 years ago, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF -  Quebec Board of the French Language) was established to ensure that French would be the primary language in the province of Quebec assuring the rights and identity of the French-speaking majority.

Supposedly first dubbed  ’The Language Police’ by the TV show 60 minutes, the OQLF accepts language complaints filed by Quebec citizens.     Although having no police powers, the OQLF can fine or even shut down an offending business.

Do we need language police in our world of B2B sales & marketing?

The ancient Greeks used the word bárbaros to describe foreigners as ‘those who babble’  (hence the word ‘barbarian’)

Perhaps this is an early example of mis-aligment between sales and marketing.   Could it be that ancient Greek salespeople referred to their marketing colleagues as bárbaros?  

Whatever the case, we continue to face basic issues in B2B sales and marketing.

The core concept of the definition of a sales lead and its workflow is the subject of endless debate and lack of clarity within B2B organizations.

The sales lead is the currency upon which sales and marketing transact their business.     If sales does not agree with marketing on the definition of a sales lead or their role in the lead lifecycle, then marketing’s efforts are futile.     This is akin to doing business between sales and marketing but in different currencies.

The agreement between sales and marketing acts as the catalyst for sales effort.

I propose that it is not the definition of the lead that matters but rather that sales and marketing agree on that definition.    

So here is my definition of a lead that provides any sales and marketing organization with a base to work from: 

The Sales Lead: A defined prospect to be engaged by Sales.  

Implied in this simple definition:

  1. A sales lead is defined and agreed upon between sales and marketing and
  2. Sales agrees to follow-up on such prospects in a consistent way.    

This approach provides the flexibility that is often needed.    Depending on buying behavior and selling processes, organizations may categorize a lead as an inquiry, an appointment or a qualified lead.   As time moves on, this definition can evolve.

If we can’t get consensus on something as simple and vital as a sales lead, then we should summon the language police.   As B2B organizations we have lost our way and our identity.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Robert Lesser
I am the founder and President of Direct Impact Marketing, a provider of a sales productivity solution and consulting services to technology organizations. Prior to stepping out as an entrepreneur, I held a number of marketing positions at Dell, IBM, Reckitt Benckiser and Loblaw Companies.


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