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Chuck Schaeffer Lead Distribution Best Practices

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Lead Transfer Best Practices to Decrease Lead Leakage & Increase Top Line Revenues

  1. Lead Recycling. IDC research shared in the report, Coordinating Marketing and Sales Across the Entire Revenue Cycle, that 60-70% of sales people ignore marketing leads. No surprise, I think we all knew that. Lead scoring helps fix this problem, but is not enough by itself. Lead recycling is a mandatory process to reduce lead leakage and ensure that no lead gets left behind. Sometimes hot leads get cold during the sales cycle. Management turnover, budget changes or competing projects may suddenly stop a buyer’s purchase process until a later day. When leads transferred from marketing to sales stall, there must be a technology-supported process that identifies those leads and allows sales or marketing people to return them to marketing for continued nurturing. Stalled leads can be identified by lack of movement or advancement over a prescribed number of days. The below diagram illustrates the revenue cycle lead evolution and identifies where leads are generally returned for recycling.

    Lead Recycling

  2. Business Intelligence. You won’t win the game if you don’t know the score. Bringing real-time visibility of lead management Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) into dashboards is a best practice. A closed loop reporting process is also essential to measure what’s working and not working. Marketing and sales must have visibility to every lead from inception to closure. According to Marketing Profs, B-to-B Lead Generation: Marketing ROI & Performance report, businesses in which marketers report alignment with sales allowing them to jointly review win-loss drivers, measure ROI on lead generation campaigns, and provide closed-loop tracking of lead performance are about three times more likely to outgrow their competitors. From my experience, I’d highly recommend designing the information reporting that detects stalled leads and lead leakage. Small improvements in these two areas result in big improvements to top line revenues.

Considering lead distribution best practices and embedding disciplined processes around the lead transfer process, as opposed to simply throwing leads over the fence, is a lot of work for sure. However, the positive impact to top line revenues is without question.

In a Forrester research report titled, CMOs Need to Institute Marketing-Sales Collaboration, the analyst firm found that businesses with mature lead management processes see sales acting on more leads, a decrease in follow-up time for sales leads, higher close rates for marketing generated leads and revenue growth 4 to 5 times larger than companies with no marketing automation or with software automation but without disciplined processes. End

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Comments (13) — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest Malcome B
  When Sales works with Marketing to build a lead scoring model, the most commonly missed piece is how Sales should follow up forwarded leads.

Guest Denise Kendra
  How do you decide whether marketing or sales owns the customer relationship at any point in time? It seems this division is becoming blurred.
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    You’re absolutely correct. The lead transfer is now less about delineation and more about orchestration. To understand shared responsibilities you need to consider how customers engage suppliers throughout the sales cycle. The days of customers responding to an advertisement and thereafter relying on sales people to educate them through the sales cycle are behind us. We all know that buyers now complete about two-thirds of their purchase cycle in an online self-education process before they engage sales people. It’s also important to recognize that buyers don’t stop educating themselves after they begin talking with sales people. Therefore, even after the lead transfer from marketing to sales, the buyer will continue to consume marketing assets on the suppliers website and elsewhere. Legacy processes such as linear lead hand-offs from marketing to sales must be replaced with a more intertwined model which coordinates and shares responsibilities based in large part on the actions of the buyer.
  Chuck Rashan Madji
    Sales and marketing people are different animals in different departments with different bosses using different systems with different performance goals. Trying to make them one team does not really sound realistic.
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    I'm not sure I'm with you on that comment. Companies need to break down their siloes, morph their marketing pipeline and sales pipeline into a unified revenue cycle and align their efforts to achieve the company’s most important revenue objectives. I do recognize that marketing and sales people see the world through difference lenses, bring different personalities, strengths and skills to common objectives, and that’s helpful in achieving team-based synergies. Marketers generally excel in automated processes, one-to-many communications and managing large data sets. Sales people generally excel in one on one interactions and building personal relationships. Alignment doesn’t suggest that everybody does the same thing. A division of labor backed with frequent communication and collaboration will ensure that the group is more successful than the sum of its members.

Guest Jeff Whitman
  Marketing and sales alignment is one of those periodic company discussions brought up whenever marketing is put under the microscope or sales results disappoint. I sometimes hear this topic during the year end budgeting process, often in the annual national sales meeting and sometimes when marketing tries to justify its inability to be held accountable for revenues. Don’t get me wrong, this article was great and the process is well defined, but unless and until marketing departments assume their role in revenue responsibility, it’s all just lip service and talk.
  Guest Dennis Isaacs
    I’ve seen this as well. Fortunately, many CEOs are demanding that marketers make the transition from cost center to profit center. Those marketers that cannot or will not make that transition will have to find a new line of work.
  Guest Jim Kincaid
    There’s also an interesting correlation between marketing departments that are cost centers and sales forces that have no time or interest in marketing. The marketing cost center doesn’t see sales as its customer and operates in a vacuum for the benefit of itself. Sales people will make requests to marketing for a while, but after hearing "we don’t have budget for that" enough times, and knowing that whatever marketing instead spends its budget on has little to no impact on sales, the sales people will just give up on the marketing department, in effect writing them off. It’s an unfortunate but all too frequent situation. But fortunately as Dennis says, more companies are demanding that marketing be measured on revenue contributions, and make the long overdue transition from cost center to revenue center.
  Guest S. Jack
    Bridging the gap between marketing and sales is hard. From my experience the top 3 things needed are CEO sponsorship, unified goals and shared incentive compensation. Without these 3 things in place, you are probably wasting your time.
  Chuck Rhonda Rhines
    Lets all live harmoniously :)

Guest Richard Napier
  Marketers like to use their marketing automation software to send automated email responses that appear to come from the salesperson. However there is a change in tone between marketing emails which include fancy subject lines, a lot of claims and broad information and salesperson emails which are generally more specific and personal. If your marketing software auto emails include the salespersons signature line, be sure to adjust the tone and content accordingly.

Guest Don Marx
  I agree that marketing automation software helps bring structure, process and resolution to the ongoing feud between sales and marketing. However, without the harder piece of the processes which you describe nicely the marketing software is just another technology that goes nowhere.

Guest Natalie Meek
  Forbes put out a good article that discovered that lead response behavior measured by on 696 companies with online lead forms found that sales reps were, on average, attempting their first follow-up call to a newly submitted web lead 39 hours after submission. This second-day follow-up results in a high degree of “lead-no-contact” experiences among sales reps. As a result, sales managers say the leads are no good and continue to pressure marketing to produce more “good” leads. Both marketing and sales must have reporting visibility to see when leads were followed up to remedy this common problem. The study also found that persistency remains low even when including auto-response emails. Two or fewer attempts were made to contact a new lead before most reps gave up. But those sales reps that made two or more attempts via email or a call fell into the 75th percentile of success.




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60% to 70% of sales people ignore marketing leads.



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