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Lead Engagement; Lead Qualification

Creating a Seamless Lead Handoff Process Between Marketing & Sales

Written By:

Stephanie Lanik;  Strategic Marketing Coordinator

A seamless lead handoff process between marketing and sales is one of the most crucial steps in lead management. Likewise, this step can also be one of the biggest bottlenecks for any company trying to grow its sales pipeline. And here’s why…

It’s no secret that marketing and sales teams within organizations don’t always see eye to eye. It usually goes one of two ways:

1. Marketing doesn’t deliver on sales-qualified leads (SQLs). Resulting in the sales team wasting time on no-good leads, and marketing is to blame.

2. Or, salespeople don’t follow up or close on qualified leads. Therefore, the ball gets dropped, sales aren’t made and marketing becomes frustrated that all that hard work was for nothing.

Meanwhile, no one’s changing the way leads are collected, defined, and nurtured. The vicious cycle just keeps going. And unfortunately, this causes the lead handoff to not be effective, resulting in lost sales opportunities. Moreover, a broken process during the handoff and qualification stage can lower your conversion rates and raise your acquisition costs. This is a BIG problem.

So how do you break that cycle and ensure the handoff between marketing and sales is as seamless as possible? Here’s where sales and marketing alignment comes into play.

How to Optimize Lead Handoff Between Marketing and Sales

It Takes Two to Tango!

Marketing and sales alignment is the holy grail when it comes to measurable and scalable growth. So the first thing you need to do is get both departments on the same page. This will help your business run more smoothly and it will lead to more closed deals. In fact, according to Aberdeen Group, companies with good alignment between both teams saw a 20% increase in annual revenue. By contrast, companies with poor alignment saw revenues decline by 4%.

To put it more broadly, if your marketing and sales teams aren’t working together, they are working against each other. Therefore, in order to put your business in a position for long-term success, you must master them both at once. This is especially true when it comes to effectively passing qualified leads onto the next stage/phase.

Both teams need to communicate and agree on a strategy for handing off and managing leads. Doing so will decrease any uncertainty and allow both teams to do their job effectively. Let’s get started!

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PRo-tip:

To make this process as efficient as possible, setting up your CRM correctly is essential.

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Identify Your Target Prospects

Determine who you should be going after in the first place. Identify your target audience and buyer personas. Ask yourselves: Who is a good fit for my product or service? Who can I help?

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Specify Lead Qualification Criteria

The lead qualification criteria will depend on your go-to-market strategy, target audience, and personas. Make sure you have these nailed down and come up with a list of minimum criteria for lead qualification. For example, does their job title fit one of your buyer personas? Do their company size, revenue, and location fit your target market?

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Define Lead Stages & Properties

Agreeing on what internally is defined as a Lead, a Marketing-Qualified Lead (MQL), and a Sales-Qualified Lead (SQL) is crucial. It will help align your organization, increase process consistency, and accelerate your revenue pipeline.

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LEADS:

A lead is someone that you have identified as being a fit for your company’s product or service.

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MQLs:

Referred to as a lead that is more likely to become a customer. These leads in particular have expressed interest in what your brand has to offer based on your marketing efforts. Simply put, they are considered the “hand-raisers”, but may not necessarily be ready to purchase. When a lead reaches MQL status, it is typically assigned to a Sales Rep for requalification.

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SQLs:

Meaning the sales team has qualified this lead as a potential customer, moving them further along the sales funnel. In other words, they’ve shown intent to buy, met the qualification criteria, and are ready to engage with a salesperson. It’s now Sales’ responsibility to manage and nurture this lead until it’s ready to be converted into an Opportunity.

MQL vs. SQL: Know the Difference to Improve Bottom-line Results

What’s the difference between a marketing-qualified lead and a sales-qualified lead? Both are vital to your business, learn more about MQL and SQL…

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Create a Lead Scoring Strategy

An effective lead scoring system gives quantifiable, standardized measurements for ranking, and classifying each lead. This helps marketing create a more personalized and engaging customer experience for each lead. Likewise, sales can prioritize which leads need immediate attention and which leads are still evaluating.

According to a survey conducted by DemandGen Report, more than half of the respondents experienced improved marketing and sales alignment. Additionally, more than 40% of respondents using lead scoring saw improved conversion rates among leads.

By obtaining tangible measurements that outline where prospects are in their buying journey, handoffs become more natural and seamless. Therefore, resulting in fewer lost opportunities and improved conversion rates.

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Determine Who Receives the Qualified Lead

Some companies have a single point of contact on the sales team that receives all qualified leads. Then, that same contact assigns those leads to the proper sales rep. Other organizations just pass qualified leads directly to sales reps.

Either way, both teams need to agree on when sales will receive a notification to follow-up with a qualified lead. Or when a qualified lead is being manually exported into CRM software and sent to sales. But remember, before sending leads to sales reps, they need to be appropriately vetted based on effective lead scoring criteria.

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Establish a Set Lead Handoff Process

Once you’ve determined who receives the qualified leads, create a process for getting them to sales in a timely fashion. There are many different ways to build a successful process for converting MQLs and SQLs. This will mostly depend on which marketing automation platform you are using and which CRM your Sales team has adopted.

Nevertheless, using both systems to pass qualified leads to individual sales reps is most efficient. It helps marketing provide full context around the lead’s behavior and background. Which gives the sales team an opportunity to strategically engage each lead exactly where the marketer left off. When both teams understand what they are responsible for, it makes for successful contact with the prospect.

Overall, having a defined process in place will decrease the margin of error and improve time management—for both parties.

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Clearly Define a Protocol for Lead Follow-Up

Leads can easily slip through the cracks without an effective follow-up system in place. Using automation can help ensure leads—especially currently active or high-priority leads—are called back within seconds of receiving the inquiry.

For this reason, both teams need to work together to create expectations regarding timing and follow-ups. If done properly, marketing should know when to turn leads over to sales in a timely manner without overwhelming them. Sales should have a solid idea of how quickly to follow-up and how many touches are required per lead.

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Design a Process for Re-Engaging Recycled Qualified Leads

The final step is to develop a process for those leads that aren’t quite sales-ready. Simply because a lead isn’t ready to buy (quite yet), doesn’t mean they should be left alone collecting dust. Think about it… if those leads sit there, feeling ignored, they are likely to take their business elsewhere.

Instead, the lead should be entered into a lead nurturing process until they are ready to engage with a salesperson.

There’s no reason why marketing and sales can’t work together to acquire, nurture, and convert more leads into sales. By following these steps and implementing the right tools, you can create a process that’s seamless and effective.

Start Maximizing Your Results With an Effective Lead Handoff Process

The lead handoff is just one small element of the entire marketing and sales process. However, it’s the one process that teams cannot afford to get wrong. That’s why at Techtonic Sales we’ve developed a proven method that reduces the likelihood of missed opportunities. Our team simply bridges the gap between your marketing and sales—making sure no leads are lost, dropped, or tossed.

Ultimately, our handoff process creates an overall better customer experience for each lead. Which in turn, results in higher conversion rates, lower customer acquisition costs, and greater ROIAnd we can prove it!

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Talk to one of our experts today!

So, if you need help optimizing lead handoff between marketing and sales, reach out to one of our experts today! Or simply click the button below to learn more.

[Contact us directly at (612) 455-7100 or toll-free at (888) 326-6118]

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