Marketing and Sales have long been at odds over whether it’s better to generate a large volume of leads or if it’s better to generate fewer, higher quality leads. Anyone involved in Sales or Marketing today, however, knows that the volume game is over. But the question still lingers: How do you get Marketing to deliver the high quality leads that Sales wants and expects?
While there are several ways to improve the quality of Marketing leads, I think one of the best solutions is to have Marketing manage the telephone lead qualification process. Here’s why.
Marketing Doesn’t Have Near-Term Quotas to Close Deals
The reality of Sales departments is that salespeople live quarter to quarter, and they have to hit a quota each quarter in order to stay in the good graces of their department. While this is a great incentive for keeping your sales team motivated to bring in revenue, that same incentive be counterproductive in the lead qualification process.
If a salesperson is worrying about whether their going to hit their quota for the quota, most are going to go after the low-hanging fruit or the big deals because this is what will bring in near-term revenue. It’s part of the reason that, according to a SiriusDecisions report, sales only calls 20 percent of all leads sent by Marketing.
Unfortunately, not every lead is ready to buy–or even ready to speak with a salesperson. So that prospect needs to speak with someone that can move them along the qualification process and find out more about their needs. While many companies keep this function within their Sales department, I think that Marketing is better equipped to handle this process. I think this for two reasons.
Firstly, Marketing isn’t worried about hitting near-term closed deal quotas. This allows the marketer to engage a prospect in a more open and honest conversation about their needs, purchase timeframe, budget and other factors that comprise typical qualification criteria. Beyond that, Marketing departments need to become more responsible for the quality of leads that they send to Sales. By asking Marketing to manage the qualification process, they’re intimately tied to the quality of lead they’re asking Sales to close.
In order to make this work, however, Marketing departments need to be methodical about who they hire, how they compensate and how the lead qualification process is managed–and improved. Here are four tips for managing this process.
1. Hire at the Junior Level
In any role, hiring the right person is critical. For the role of lead qualifier, you want someone energetic, competitive and willing to a lot of spend time on the phone. And you want them to junior enough to grow into a different Sales or Marketing role. Beyond that, you want someone that can really drive a phone conversation and has the inquisitive nature to to dig beneath the surface to uncover information from the prospect.
2. Compensate with a Sales-like Pay Structure
The biggest driver in increasing the quality of Marketing leads is to tie compensation to the sale. The easiest way to do that is to start them off at a base salary and offer a commission based on the total revenue of closed deals. You can also add incentives for qualification accuracy such as an additional bonus for a great Sales-accepted lead metric.
3. Decide How to Route Leads
The natural lead category breakdown is to create three buckets of leads: qualified leads, disqualified leads and leads that need to be nurtured. All of these are fairly self-explanatory but the last one is worth elaborating on. The real opportunity for shifting this role to Marketing is that you can dedicate someone to nurturing leads with a human touch. As such, there should be an intense focus on the nurturing aspect of lead qualification.
4. Improve Sales and Marketing Alignment
While this is a long-standing issue in companies across the globe, it’s a necessary area of focus for making this model work. You need Sales and Marketing to have regular meetings about lead qualification criteria to have Sales understand why Marketing is disqualifying certain leads (and to double-check that they’re not disqualifying a few hidden gems). The best way to manage this process is to have Marketing and Sales meet frequently. Start off having weekly meetings, then move to once a month afterwards.
While this is not an exhaustive list of what needs to happen, I think these are the key areas of focus. If you follow these steps, you can create a Marketing team that both drives more sales and is more accountable and better able to see its contribution to revenue.
What do you think about this approach? If you have some thoughts, I’d love for you to contact me at Software Advice on my blog at: Marketing Should Own Lead QUalification or to simply email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.