One of the biggest areas ofinefficiencyin business to business sales is the hand-off of leads from Marketing to Sales.
An enthusiastic marketeer follows up an event attendance or the download of a whitepaper and after a positive call with the prospect passes over a qualified lead to the sales team who then follow up with a sales call.
In an ideal world the sales person picks up the baton and the sales process continues successfully to close, but this is rarely the case. More often than not the sales call is not so successful – the buyer wants to move forward at their own pace and doesn’t require the ‘assistance’ of a sales person (think of your instinctive reaction to a sales assistant in a shop “Fine thanks – just looking!”).
A specific issue that is raised here is around how you compensate your telemarketing team. Many businesses wrestle between two options of what defines a qualified lead:
- Telemarketing defined – “I qualified this according to the set criteria”
- Sales defined – “I accept this as an active sales opportunity”
The problem with telemarketing defining a qualified lead is that they are marking their own homework. They have an interest in qualifying their own leads because it determines what reaches their bank account. Very quickly this is an unsustainable model.
Many businesses then move to the second option whereby leads are passed to sales for them to further qualify and accept as a sales opportunity. On the face of it this makes sense – you should only be paying telemarketing for leads that are qualified sales opportunities.
This strategy misses out two critical ideas however:
- Sales are marking their own homework as well! Many sales teams are managed not just on the revenue they close, but on the state of their pipeline, their close ratios, and how long deals take to close. It is in their interest to strictly control what they allow into their pipeline.
- The buyer is in charge. Buyers today are research machines. The vast majority of the sales process is done prior to speaking with any sales people. A buyer can quite happily have a positive and productive call with a telemarketer, but have no need yet for a sales call.
As a result of both of these the sales-handoff process is very binary – accept or reject, when the buying process itself is anything but.
This outcome is not positive for either the telemarketers who keep seeing their great work rejected, or for the sales team who start to see less and less reason to call into ‘qualified leads’ that they will simply reject.
Record your telemarketing calls
Sales hand-off simply doesn’t work where the definition of qualification is determined by either side of the process. It requires an independent verification that a certain criteria has been met. This can only be done by recording your telemarketing calls and having the qualified leads (as determined by the telemarketers) listened to by a role whose compensation does not relate to the number of qualified leads.
If a telemarketer does what was expected of them in determining budget, authority, need and timescale (or your own qualifying criteria) then the lead is qualified and commission is paid. If Sales then choose not to accept the lead into their own pipeline for their own reasons then that is up to their own preference but doesn’t affect the work of the telemarketers.
How have you tackled the inefficiency between marketing and sales? Do you record calls to resolve disputes in the handover process? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.