I often talk about the importance of developing a healthy working relationship between sales and marketing teams. This is because companies that are able to bring these two departments together see far better business results than those that don’t. And many don’t!
The disconnect, more often than not, results from a lack of communication and thus understanding between these teams. Each team has their own belief about what the other does, their own concept of what they should be doing and the outcome is that neither is satisfied with results of the other.
From our experience we have seen that a key point of contention revolves around leads, and lead quality, in particular. Marketing is expected to provide good quality leads to sales. Sales, in turn, is expected to convert those leads into paying customers. Sales complain that leads aren’t qualified and marketing moan that sales don't do enough to close them as customers.
What is the solution here? How do we get our sales and marketing teams to stop playing a blame game and start working together towards common objectives?
Being able to quickly segment good quality leads from tyre kickers is a good place to start. This allows marketing to identify leads that require further marketing intervention versus those that are ready to talk to sales.
So how do we identify a good quality lead? The traits of a good lead will differ from company to company, depending on a number of factors, but there is a basic matrix we can use that looks at fit and interest to qualify leads.
How To Qualify Your Leads Using the Fit and Interest Matrix
Is The Lead a Good Fit for Your Business?
Whether the lead is a good fit for your business will depend on your target market, or ideal customer. If you specifically deliver services to large enterprises with 1,000+ employees then a lead coming in from a ‘Mom and Pop’ shop down the road probably isn’t going to be considered a good quality lead. They may not be able to afford your services and a chat with a sales person is a waste valuable time and resources.
Another aspect of fit could be the lead’s professional role. You may decide that within business categories the lead's job title or role in the decision-making process will impact on lead qualification. If you’re specifically targeting decision makers then end users are probably not going to be valuable to your sales team.
How closely a lead matches your ideal customer profile will determine whether and when you hand it over to the sales team.
At this point I should mention that leads that don’t ‘cut the mustard’ off the bat should not necessarily be tossed aside. It is marketing’s responsibility to nurture these leads and see whether certain interactions further down the line raise their lead score in terms of qualification. Which brings us to interest.
Does The Lead Show Interest in Your Business?
Determining a lead’s level of interest in your organisation is a key indicator of sales-readiness. A lead who has just started following you on Twitter or has only visited your company website once may be aware of your company but not ready to engage with sales. On the other hand, a lead who has downloaded a few of your offers and requests a product demo or pricing information is showing genuine interest, indicating they are further along the buying cycle and more likely ready to speak to a sales consultant.
Your lead’s activity combined with their fit for your business will determine the next steps your marketing or sales team takes. So let’s have a look at the 4 scenarios based on our interest and fit matrix:
1. Low Interest and Not a Fit - "Bin Them"
These leads fall outside of your ideal customer profile. They have also not shown much interest in your marketing content or offers. They are most definitely not worth a sales call.
In fact, you can take them out of marketing communication entirely. This will leave you with a cleaner list of more engaged subscribers and will render better email and social results.
2. High Interest but Not a Good Fit - "Say Hi to Them"
These leads are highly engaged with your brand and marketing. They may have subscribed to your blog, downloaded eBooks and attended webinars. But they don’t entirely match your ideal customer profile.
In this case, it may be worthwhile for sales to do a low-cost follow up (email perhaps?) and check in on a purchase opportunity. Not all customers will match the ideal profile 100% and sometimes there is a quick win with non-traditional customers.
3. Good Fit but Low Interest - "Nurture Them"
These leads are a good fit from a customer profile perspective. They represent businesses that match your target market. But their engagement is low. They may have downloaded a piece of educational content or signed up for your email newsletter.
These leads need to exhibit higher engagement levels before they are deemed qualified to hand over to sales. They require further nurturing through email marketing and thus should be added to workflows appropriate to their initial interest.
4. Good Fit and High Interest- "Call Them, Right Now"
These are your hot leads! They represent your ideal customer profile and are highly engaged with your marketing content.
Sales need to take ownership of these leads immediately and follow-up with them as quickly as possible, usually within 24 hours, before they take their business elsewhere.
The Simple Solution
Inbound Sales involves setting up a formal lead qualification process, which is relatively easy with most marketing automation software that connects with your CRM and is an ideal way to help align your sales and marketing teams. Teams are better equipped to assign leads the best follow-up method based on their qualification score, reducing frustration and improving productivity, which leads to better business results. A win all round.