The term “sales-ready” is heard frequently in the B2B response management arena lately. Studies show that making a lead sales-ready will dramatically increase your overall close rate from the same flow of leads, and dramatically enhance the level of engagement and responsiveness from your sales force or channel partners. So, what makes a lead “sales-ready”?
Sales and marketing usually have very different definitions:
Sales: “A sales-ready lead is any prospect that has a business problem your company can solve at a price it can afford, now.”
Marketing: “A sales-ready lead is any prospect that has achieved sufficient lead rank over time, based on pre-defined criteria expressing his interest to buy now or in the future.”
We believe the best practice for defining a “sales-ready” lead can only come through a collaboration between sales and marketing: “A sales-ready lead is an inquiry that has been qualified and ranked by criteria that both sales and marketing agree upon.” Specifically, “sales-ready” leads should meet the following 5 criteria:
- Decision authority
Only when a lead meets these 5 criteria should it be turned over to the sales department. This will result in fewer leads going to the sales force. However, the reality is fewer, better-quality leads (i.e. “sales-ready” leads) will help sales reps be more productive as they will have more relevant conversations and be able to help solve immediate problems for their prospects.
Marketing teams should use qualification tactics (i.e. telemarketing, etc.) to identify leads that are not sales-ready and funnel them into a lead nurturing program. There, they can continue educating them and keep them engaged until they are sales-ready. These steps help maximize yield from your best leads and keeps your sales team highly productive.
When it comes to turning over leads to the sales department, think quality over quantity. Generating, developing and delivering sales-ready leads is critical for B2B marketing professionals. Companies that do it well gain productivity from their sales force, close a higher percentage of opportunities and optimize their business development resources.
How does your organization define “sales-ready”?