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How to Get Sales and Marketing to Agree on Lead Scoring

How to Get Sales and Marketing to Agree on Lead Scoring

While the nuts and bolts of marketing differ by objectives and industries, every marketing initiative has a common goal: to generate as many qualified leads as possible for the sales team. However, there’s more to this equation than meets the eye. Once you capture a lead’s information, you’re tasked with converting that lead into a customer, which both marketing and sales see as a daunting task. How daunting? Fewer than 15 percent of leads are sales-ready when marketing hands them over to the sales team.

It turns out that sales and marketing have differing opinions about what constitutes a quality lead. The large chasm between sales qualified leads and marketing qualified leads is filled with countless lost sales dollars, not to mention diminished morale and increased animosity that exists between sales and marketing because of this disconnect.

How can you get your sales and marketing teams to speak the same language regarding leads?

Define Qualified Leads

Sales and marketing teams live in different worlds with different sets of priorities, so it stands to reason that each group would have a different definition of what a qualified lead looks like. The problem is this doesn’t really help sales as they’re trying to close substandard leads, and it doesn’t help marketing understand it’s not giving the sales team what they need.

A marketing qualified lead is one who begins at the top of the buyer’s journey. An interested observer fills out a form on your website and asks for more information about your product. They might click through emails they receive or ask questions on your social media accounts. In the eyes of marketing, this is a person who’s motivated and appears likely to make a purchase at some point.

Those last three words are critical. Because while marketing qualified leads are people who may buy at some point, sales qualified leads are people ready to buy right now. Notice the difference? The sales team needs to know its leads are people who are at the last stage of the buyer’s journey. If those people are anywhere else, the sales team is going to come on too strong. The question is, how can marketing improve upon the quality of leads it hands over to sales?

Create a New Definition

No two leads are created equal, and that distinction is something that must be recognized by both your sales and marketing teams. It’s in the best interest of marketing to only send along quality leads who have a high probability of being converted by sales. After all, a low lead conversion rate hurts everyone.

The best way to go about defining a qualified lead for your company is to have your marketing and sales teams sit down and hash out exactly what they expect from one another. Although sales might assume marketing doesn’t fulfill its role of pulling in leads who  count, it’s just as likely that the marketing team simply doesn’t know it’s not delivering sufficiently nurtured leads. Use open and constructive discussion to find where the current crop of leads comes up short.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to define new parameters for what constitutes a sales qualified lead. While there’s no exact formula that works in every company, the one common denominator is that the prospect must have done more than fill out a form. For example, the benchmark for a sales qualified lead might be someone who clicks through on a certain percentage of your emails or an individual who has visited your website a certain number of times.

But it’s not enough for a lead to merely have some activity beyond joining your mailing list. There have to be specific actions that indicate a given lead is ready for sales to reach out to them, and that’s where the sales team’s input comes into play. They talk to prospects every day. They know the hang-ups and concerns leads typically have before they take the plunge. Needless to say, marketing needs to take the sales team’s opinion seriously.

This new definition of a sales qualified lead should be listed in the service level agreement that governs the relationship between sales and marketing. More than that, each team needs a way to practice transparency in categorizing leads as they come in and are handed from one team to the next. The use of CRM software, such as HubSpot’s CRM, allows both sales and marketing to view pertinent information about each lead. This gives marketing a way to document any interactions to prove to sales why this lead is qualified, and give sales the facts and figures necessary to close the deal.

Develop Lead Scoring Parameters

As your sales and marketing teams develop a new definition for a sales qualified lead, it’s essential to nail down exactly what actions would qualify that prospect. Where should you start? Develop lead scoring parameters that both sales and marketing believe would qualify a prospect.

Here are some typical lead scoring categories:

Who’s Buying

While you always want to sell to any interested customer, the truth is some leads are more important than others. An individual may be interested in paying for your course about corporate leadership, but the CEO who will sign up all of his or her employees for that course takes precedence over a one-off sale. Give leads who mean bigger or repeat business a higher lead score so sales knows how valuable those contacts are.

Lead Behavior

Any action taken by a lead is the ultimate test of how ready that prospect is to move forward. Someone who downloads a free trial of your software should be seen as extremely qualified. The same goes for anyone who shares your company’s information on social media. As leads complete actions that signal to your sales team they may be ready to be contacted, give them a higher score.

Demographics

People who fit into your buyer persona should take priority over those who don’t. For instance, your company may give higher scores to leads who work for businesses within a certain size, industry and revenue range.  

Since every company is different, you’ll never truly know what criteria matters until you give lead scoring a shot. And keep in mind there’s no magic scoring number, because your company creates that number based on the leads it has coming in. Understand the traits and actions that matter most to your company, and you’ll be on your way to effectively categorizing leads and  eliminating any discrepancies between marketing qualified and sales qualified.

The Handoff

When your sales team gets a lead from marketing, the lead must be completely vetted and have a strong possibility of making a purchase. But, the feedback goes both ways. While it’s important for sales to have confidence in how marketing scores its leads, it’s just as important for the marketing team to have confidence in how their efforts resonate with actual people.

At its core, marketing is all about hitting the pain points of interested customers. And if your marketing team isn’t able to accurately address these pain points, then it should talk to the sales team and learn more about what really motivates customers to buy your company’s products. A simple miscommunication or a series of assumptions may be costing your company a significant amount of money. If marketing has a better focus and begins reaching more leads who count,  your sales team will have a constant flow of qualified contacts.

Help Sales and Marketing Teams Speak the Same Language

Encouraging your sales and marketing teams to work together and redefine sales qualified leads does so much more than simply boosting internal morale. It facilitates a culture that prioritizes the buyer’s journey, which means efficient lead targeting and lead conversion. The more focused your sales and marketing teams are on identifying the right customers, the easier it’ll be for both sales and marketing to speak the language of those leads, which will send your conversion rates and revenues through the roof.

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