22 January 2010 Category: Blog

A question was recently posed on B2B Magazine’s Linkedin forum which effectively asked whether sales teams should be allowed to “reject” leads which had been produced for them through marketing activities (which would include telemarketing).

In our view the answer is an emphatic “yes” – if the lead falls below agreed, objective and measurable criteria. Moreover it’s crucial that any rejected leads are fed back to their source (whatever that is) so that future leads will better match the agreed profile.

However, we often find that there’s no clear agreement on what constitutes a lead, which can cause real problems. The two main issues associated with this scenario are wide reaching and can cause great damage.

 1. Marketing and sales will be forever locked in an unproductive conflict. This wastes time and energy that would be better spent on generating more real sales opportunities.

2. Individual sales team members will apply their own criteria to decide what they want to follow up and what they reject – one may be happy to “get a foot in the door” and build up a relationship over many months, the next only wanting to see buyers with an established need and a time to purchase of a few weeks. This makes teams inefficient and very difficult to manage and measure.

It’s amazing how many organisations (including blue chip businesses) lack any meaningful process for scoring leads. It really shouldn’t be that hard to implement and review based on empirically measured propensity to convert. Without a lead scoring process in place there’s no real basis for managing sales teams' activities and no platform for improving the quality of the input of sales leads that they receive. Does any of this sound familiar…..?

We work with the well established BANT criteria for the vast majority of our clients (Budget Authority Need and Timescale) Ensuring that the prospect has budget in place (or access to budget) is straightforward, as is ensuring that they have decision making authority. Time to purchase is usually simple to assess too. By far the most difficult criteria to “nail down” is Need. Some marketers take the view that any organisation that meets very broad criteria (eg. “over 200 employees” or “over 500 PCs”) “needs” their product or service. In our experience this is completely naive.

 Real need is generated and cemented through understanding exactly what the business issues and pain points are for your prospects and then showing them how the benefits of your offering will address them. A skilled, unscripted telemarketer is the ideal person to carry out this exercise, producing a stream of fully BANT qualified opportunities for your sales team.

With open, ongoing and, above all, structured feedback and communication between sales and marketing, you should find that an ever smaller proportion of leads are “bounced” by the sales team, because everyone involved in sales and marketing agrees and understands what it takes to reach your end goal, a sale….

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