One of the age-old debates between sales and marketing is the number and quality of leads. If leads are aplenty, sales will say they’re terrible leads. But, even if the leads are closing at a high rate, if there are fewer than usual, there’s a complaint there too. One way to try to decrease this tension is to ensure that leads are defined in the same way by both marketing and sales.

Presumably, you have different kinds of leads that come in through different campaigns.

Sales and Marketing

In a perfect world, you’re nurturing all of your leads until they become hot prospects for your sales team to call on, but in the event you don’t have that process in place, or, your sales team wants to talk to everyone no matter their temperature, you need to ensure you define what each means and what to expect from them based on the campaign from which they came.

Defining Your B2B Sales Funnel

The first step is to itemize the various campaigns and lead capture vehicles you’re using to add to your lead pipeline. It might look as simple as this:

Sales funnel The next step is to determine what type of person might come in through these various campaigns. Are they at the top-of-the-sales funnel: just starting to look into your product or service, aren’t sure they really know what they need/want, are interested in the information you’re offering but not necessarily your specific product?

Or, are they in the the middle-of-the-sales funnel: they’ve defined their issue and are looking at specific solutions, they’re shopping around to see what exists within their solution area, they still don’t know what the specifics of the offerings are and need a little more guidance?

Or, are they at the bottom-of-the-sales funnel: they’ve done the research already, know what they need to solve their issues, and are looking for reasons to choose your product or service above the others in the marketing?

sales funnelOnce you’ve gotten these defined, you can go more granular with the lead definitions if you’re ready to take that step. For instance, in the middle-of-the-funnel, you might have two different stages identified such as Marketing Qualified and Sales Accepted. For the Marketing Qualified, it might mean you’ve gotten all the basic contact information you’ve deemed as required to make it a valid lead, and you have a couple of preliminary questions answered, e.g. their product interest, industry, and job title. For Sales Accepted, it might be additional information such as their budget, timeframe for a decision, and system or environment requirements.

After you’ve determined what each of the stages you’ll go with are, and what campaign leads are attached to each stage, you’d then define these in a written document to share with the sales team … probably something like this:

Sales Funnel

There are other elements to this such as tracking and reporting the number of leads at each stage, associating ROI with them, further refining the stages, and associating and creating content for each stage, but hopefully this will get you started down the path of ensuring sales and marketing are defining the leads the same way.

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