Sounds like a simple question, doesn't it? If you're in sales, you're yelling, "When it's qualified!"
But, what does that mean? Research shows that 70% or more of leads passed to sales by marketing are never followed up on. If you're in marketing, you're grumbling, "Ungrateful wretches, those sales reps."
The answer is that the whole notion of "qualified" is different for every company. Depending on what you're selling, how high the investment, how big the problem to be solved, the qualification level necessary to transition an inquiry to a bonified lead varies.
To narrow the gap, you need to do the following:
- Get marketing and sales to agree to the transition point
- Track the nurturing program that gets an inquiry to transition to a lead
- Create a growing intensity of interactions that builds interest and insight to how your company can solve the problem.
- Allow sales to monitor the progress and actively pull leads they think are ready
- Then allow them to give the lead back if they determine it's not ready yet, eliminating the waste of lost leads.
Here's an example of why this is important:
"Recent surveys by Warne, a Toronto marketing company, tracked more than 3,500 people who inquired to blue-chip advertisers. Here is what the surveys found: 19% of the inquirers made purchases within six months (whether from the advertiser or a competitor) and 29% purchased within a year. By 16 months, 43%, and by 25 months, 57% had made purchases. That translates into two in 10 that want to buy "now" and four others that want to buy "later" — or about six prospects for every 10 queries." (Excerpted from 10 Tips for acquiring new customers)
Makes you stop and think, doesn't it?
Thanks to Mike Santoro of the Duct Tape CRM blog for the link and for his post and astute summation: "Bottom line. Sales people are compensated by selling. They don't care about qualifying leads for you or nurturing them through the process. They want to make a sale."
How's your lead nurturing program going?