While developing a complete lead qualification checklist examines at least five criteria (see them in our Lead Qualification Checklist template), two primary characteristics begin the process of determining whether a lead is ready to pass on from marketing to sales and what additional work is needed to nurture that lead.
The two questions marketing should ask before passing any lead on to sales:
1. Is the lead a good fit?
2. Is the lead interested?
By making sure both of those questions are answered with a “yes” before passing the lead to sales for direct contact, marketing and sales teams can work together more efficiently to achieve sales and revenue goals.
Find much more on aligning your departments in The Complete Guide to Unifying Marketing & Sales.
Determining A Lead’s Fit
Quality inbound marketing content which meets the criteria of telling a story, being useful, shareable and findable, and which is technically sound, will attract many new leads to your website. But they may not all be the right leads for your business.
Your company may have specific target markets, such as manufacturing companies, or a specific size of service business. You may only pursue leads who meet certain individual criteria, such as a specific job title or level of influence.
How closely a lead matches your ideal customer profile will determine whether and when you hand it over to the sales team.
Determining A Lead’s Level of Interest
Interest level can often be gauged based on what interaction the lead has with your website. For example, if they have only visited your website once and downloaded an introductory ebook, they may not be very aware of your products and services or seriously seeking a solution that you can offer.
Indicators that a lead is very interested, and nearing a buying decision, would include multiple visits to your site, viewing a product demo, requesting a free trial or accessing pricing information.
You can visualize the intersection of a lead’s fit and interest level as a four-section matrix. Which quadrant the lead falls into will dictate the next step your marketing or sales team should take.
Good fit and interested
These are your ideal leads. They match your target market and are engaged and seeking solutions. These hot leads should be acted on quickly by your sales department.
Good fit, but less interest
If a lead is a good fit for your products, but their level of interaction is only superficial to begin, it is time to put your lead nurturing program to work, reaching out with offers related to their initial engagement with your website to foster awareness and trust.
Lots of interest, but not a good fit
Occasionally you will have leads who become highly engaged with your brand, subscribing to your blog and downloading ebooks, but who don’t seem to match well with your target market. Don’t ignore them.
By having a sales rep follow up, you may discover that even though they don’t seem like a good fit, there is a sales opportunity. They may also be contacts you can turn into evangelists for your brand, providing word-of-mouth and helping to share your offers with their connections.
Little interest and no fit
One-time visitors who don’t fit your target market are definitely not worth sending on to sales. In fact, it might be best to take them out of your communication stream altogether. A clean list of more engaged subscribers will provide better results for your email and social media messages.
We know from experience that only 25 percent of leads are ready to buy when they first visit your website. It is important that only those who are a good fit and show interest are sent straight to the sales department. Otherwise, both marketing and sales are wasting time and effort on an inefficient system.
Use the fit/interest matrix and a more customized lead qualification checklist to ensure that marketing and sales both understand at what point a lead is ready for the personal approach.
There are even more tips for bringing your marketing and sales teams into alignment in our Complete Guide to Unifying Marketing & Sales. Use them to help both departments meet corporate goals and build success together.