Who qualifies a lead?

A lead qualification survey conducted this spring by MarketingSherpa clearly articulates the disconnect between sales and marketing: that each defines “qualified lead” completely differently.

For example, 80% of respondents indicated that to be considered a lead, the prospect must provide basic contact information. Next, only 42% required an indication of a valid business need to be considered a lead. And the average number of qualification criteria selected to this question was only two criteria.

“What is surprising about this data is that fewer than half of all respondents verify that a lead actually has a valid business need for their product or service before passing the lead to Sales,” writes Jen Doyle, Senior Research Analyst. “For the majority, these leads may not even have a valid business need for their product or service, and they are being delivered to their sales teams to close.”

There is much written about the ideal office scenario in which marketing and sales work together in a partnership that produces quality leads; but much more is written about the head-butting that occurs in the reality between sales and marketing. Both are so misunderstood! My colleague recounted a story to me today about the sales department whose collateral were completely different from the pieces produced by marketing. They won’t even share the same art or messaging.

(Sometimes this lead definition deficit happens solely within the sales department – forget marketing! Another colleague and I were discussing a sales exec who claimed he only needed a name to consider a prospect a lead, but when pressed admitted he needed other information as well. In my conversations with prospects I hear the same refrain: “Just get me in the door and I’ll make the sale.” Well, when they get in the door of an unqualified lead and can’t make the sale, guess who gets the blame! Anyone who claims that a name or an unqualified appointment are leads doesn’t know much about closing a sale – or about the definition of a lead.)

Why can’t sales and marketing just get along and work together for the common good? At the end of the day, we all need to move some merchandise out the door, make a customer at the counter, or sign the dotted line on a contract for services.

Put aside your differences, order some doughnuts, and have a joint staff meeting. Agree on what it is you’re marketing, who wants to buy it, and how you know it when you’ve found that person.

You’ll be amazed at the results.

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