Brian Carroll

Bridge Sales & Marketing Gap With Clear Lead Definition

Teamwork is essential in order to maximize ROI from your lead generation programs. Are you sending inquiries or qualified leads over to your sales team? 90% of the companies that I work with (I talk with hundreds each year) lack a clear definition (especially between marketing and sales) of what a sales lead is.

Successful lead generation must go beyond the marketing department. It requires a shared vision that involves all players. It begins with the holistic premise that everyone has something to gain or lose by your lead generation program’s success or failure.

What is a lead?
Companies that aren’t asking this essential question of BOTH their marketing AND sales teams will find that they are producing poor ROI from their lead generation efforts. Miscommunication leads to missed revenue targets, wasted budget dollars and possibly more distrust between marketing and sales.

Here are 6 Steps to help you mutually define a sales lead within your organization. This is referred to as a Universal Lead Definition or ULD.

1. Meet – Get ALL those involved in new customer acquisition in a room or a conference call. You’ll need a leader/facilitator who has “street credibility” because the premise of the meeting is that we’re all in this together. Also, it’s best if you can have sponsorship of a top executive. If you have team issues I suggest the book by Patrick M. Lencioni: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.

2. Ask the question – What do you consider a qualified lead? Now shut up and listen. Everybody must play. What are the characteristics of the ideal sales opportunity? Who should we be contacting? Who’s involved in the buying process?

3. Confirm it again – Don’t stop with just one meeting. Summarize the notes from your meeting and have another meeting to clarify and make sure everyone is satisfied with the definition? You’ll need a strong consensus.

4. Publish - Publish the ULD everywhere that you can. The terms you use to rank and describe your leads must become part of your organization’s culture and shared language. Everyone must be on the same page.

5. Close-the-loop – Marketing and sales should meet often (maybe bi-weekly) to review the ULD for accuracy. I’ve found it best to do it as part of the regular sales meeting. Ask questions like this… Was X a lead? Did they enter the sales process? Why / Why not? What else would you like to have known about this lead? How can we improve? What should we stop doing? What should we start doing?

6. Edit and republish – The ULD is a living document, so it is not uncommon to see several revisions within the first few months of implementation.

Benefits of Universal Lead Definition

  • Higher qualified, sales-ready leads
  • Sales force has less frustration
  • Increased sales effectiveness
  • More accurate funnel management
  • Shorten average sales cycle
  • Meaningful ROI metrics that are consistent

    I’ll be sharing more on, How to Precisely Define a “Lead” Before Marketing Begins at the B2B Lead Generation Summit in DC and SF. Hope to see you there!

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    Lead Generation, Leadership, Marketing Strategy, ROI Measurement, Sales



    1. | #1

      Great Blog! I am glad that I have found this place. I also specialize in Lead Generation for the small business owner and have found your blog to be a valuable resource. I will be sharing this with my associates.

      To Our Success!
      Carl Sorensen
      Lead Capture Pages

    2. Cliff Ancier
      | #2

      One word evalutating about this post: “Bridge Sales & Marketing Gap With Clear Lead Definition”:

      BULLSEYE!

      Cliff Ancier
      New Hope, MN

    3. | #3

      Brian: good post; and I would add that the list of attendees must include a senior executive (VP of Sales and Marketing, CEO, President) who can see and hear first hand what the problem is and then “negotiate a settlement” that everyone can live with (or is forced to live with – as there is always someone who is not “all in it together”). As a starting place, readers can find “Ten Attributes of a Well Qualified Lead” here: http://tinyurl.com/lf7mfv

    4. | #4

      I agree the exec team needs to be involved. I explain the unique role top executives play in driving better lead generation execution in this post.
      Read more: http://blog.startwithalead.com/weblog/2006/05/why_ceos_must_b_1.html

      CEOs can make a huge impact by focusing on collaboration – between sales and marketing – and seeking consensus on the following three things:

      1. Ideal Customer Profile (company wide – for each product, service, or solution)
      2. Universal Lead Definition of a “sales ready” lead that’s applied to all inquires/leads
      3. Connecting the marketing/sales process with your customers buying process

      If the CEO isn’t an active supporter of marketing in the company, the proper environment for good, sound lead generation is far removed from reality. The CEO, after all, shapes the vision of the company and sets the tone for its corporate culture.

      In the absence of CEO support, I believe marketers are in the unique position of being catalysts for change. Ultimately, it becomes the job of the marketer to lead the charge in pursuit of success of the company’s lead generation program.

    1. | #1