Ask Marketing folks what ‘sales ready Leads’ really mean and you will find a smirk on their faces. Every marketing & sales guy has his own definition of what makes a Lead ‘sales ready’.
Perhaps this is the single most important factor contributing to the great sales & marketing divide. Hence in a Lead generation process it is very important for marketing folks to pull in the sales team and establish the criteria for ‘sales ready Leads’. They should even establish a metrics of sales accepted Leads to sales rejected leads and also put together a Lead nurturing process and research process to convert rejected leads to accepted Leads.
The number of sales ready Leads in a company’s Lead funnel is not only a measure of the company’s secure financial future but also a measure of how effective it’s marketing and Lead scoring processes are. Sales ready Leads do not fall from the sky and every company needs a multi-level strategy to ensure there is enough ‘production’ of sales ready Leads.
A sales-ready Lead can be defined as any prospect which is evaluating solution for a business problem, and you (your company) has a product/solution which fits this situation
There are several Lead generation tools available in the market today, which promise to keep your sales funnel flowing with Leads. The most popular of these are the ones which either focus on email campaigns or web visits with the key objective as converting websites into a source for generating Leads.
Are all the Leads identified by this approach ready to take a sales call? Most of the Leads might be still researching the space and will prompt your sales team to call them as either suspects or soft Leads.
There is often a disparity between the sales and marketing definitions of a sales ready Lead.
A sales person’s definition of a sales ready Lead: “A sales ready Lead is any prospect that has a business problem your company can solve at a price it can afford, now.”
A marketer’s definition: “A sales ready Lead is any prospect that has achieved sufficient lead rank over time, based on pre-defined criteria expressing his interest to buy now or in the future.”
It would help if both the sales and marketing teams can pre-define the criteria for qualifying the Leads which they would consider as sales ready. For example Leads which have achieved sufficient ranking over time and have expressed their interest to buy now, can be agreed upon by both teams as sales ready.
Both Sales and Marketing must also agree on the criteria that would indicate a Lead’s sale readiness. Each company has its own definition of what makes a sales ready Lead. Here are a few questions to help define a sales ready Lead for your company:
Authority – What is the job title of the inquirer or their department of responsibility? If you sell your products primarily to purchasing managers, it’s unlikely that a sales ready Lead would have the job title of administrative assistant. The Lead management system should be configured to screen out non-applicable job titles.
Timeline – How soon does this inquirer plan to buy the product? The sooner they plan to buy the hotter the Lead. The Lead management system should instantly distribute hot leads to the appropriate sales person.
Budget – Does the inquirer have budget money set aside for the purchase of this product? If not, the Lead may not be ready to go to a sales person. Instead, we recommend nurturing this Lead until they are ready to buy.
This is where Lead scoring becomes an integral part of Lead Management. It helps companies go after quality rather than quantity and optimize their resources and efforts in pursuing more qualified Leads, who have a higher chance of converting to sales.
Quality over quantity – However less the number of leads coming down their funnel, Companies should stick to pursuing only quality Leads, or else they may waste a lot of time pursuing leads which have no intention to buy, when they could have used the time and resources more productively.
Type of sales – Depending on the behavior and the interest expressed by a Lead, the company should be in a position to define how easy or complex the sale is going to be. This is to ensure they are ready with the right kind of information and resources which would be required to close a sale. Often the ability to misjudge the sale readiness of a Lead can lead to delays in sharing appropriate information, pushing the lead further away from a closure.
Re-defining the Lead Funnel – Marketing teams in most companies generate Leads and pass them to sales for prospecting. While it is important to have a steady flow of Leads from marketing to sales, what’s even more important is to ensure that these are “quality” Leads. Fewer, good quality, sales ready Leads result in better prospecting, higher lead conversion rates and ultimately a better marketing ROI.
Finding, nurturing and pursuing a sales ready Lead requires the joint efforts of the marketing and sales teams in any company. Using marketing automation software that includes an effective Lead scoring engine, marketing teams should identify leads that are not sales ready and retain them in the nurturing funnel and keep nurturing them till they become sales ready. In a similar fashion, sales teams, should send back the Leads that they perceive are not yet sales ready into the Lead nurturing funnel, so marketing can continue nurturing them till they are ready.
Today social media is fast emerging as a place for finding a number of sales ready Leads. All, companies need is a close ear on the buzz created on social media platforms. Customers and Clients are openly expressing their needs for specific solutions over public forums and social networking sites, following those who fit the BAT (budget, authority and Timeline) criteria and responding to them in time and with appropriate information can drive sale ready Leads down your lead funnel immediately. Leads which may not even need to undergo the nurturing process.
The point is how active the company is on these social media platforms which is frequented by its target customers and wether it has a plan in place to respond to such sale ready Leads in an open forum or to connect with them otherwise.