Not All Advice is the Right Advice

I’ve been a part of several online conversations recently that have discussed how to get more from marketing automation and improve the return on marketing’s investment.  In each of these conversations, folks have weighed in about the importance of sales and marketing working together to define a “lead”.  “If they can just do that”, so goes the refrain, “then marketing and sales will live happily ever after.”

While on the surface this sounds like good advice, it really isn’t.  If marketers believe that their answer for success is simply getting sales to agree to the definition of a lead, then there are going to be a lot of disappointed marketing folks.  Why?  Because there is more than one level of a “lead”.

Think about the traditional waterfall or funnel approach that is used within marketing and sales.  The approach starts with an Inquiry which becomes a Marketing Qualified Lead, then a Sales Accepted Lead, then a Sales Qualified Lead and eventually a Closed Sale.  Can one simple definition cover all of those stages? Obviously the answer is “No”.  In light of the funnel stages, the task of “defining a lead” raises questions such as:

  • If marketing and sales develop a singular definition for “lead”, to what stage in the funnel should it be applied?
  • Will all leads be sent to sales?  If not, what qualification criteria will be used to identify which ones should and which ones shouldn’t?
  • What routing processes should be developed to ensure that leads get to the sales person at the right time?
  • How many leads are needed in order to help sales meet their revenue goals?

And the list of questions goes on. These questions and others indicate that if marketing and sales want to be successful together, they need to come together to define their approach to the entire lead management process.  Limiting the focus to agreeing to the definition of a lead is like sitting down for a 5-course dinner and only eating the appetizer.

Defining that process will take time. It’s a continual discipline, one that needs ownership, patience and consistency over time.  There are no quick fixes. Be patient, get the right advice and work together with sales to develop a lead management plan that will bring significant improvement to your marketing efforts.

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