A sales exec recently told me he would “rather have 10 percent of my current lead flow with 80 percent of the leads being high quality, than the current state of affairs where only 5 percent of leads are qualified, at best.” In my experience, all sales professionals agree.

With a quantity rather than quality approach to lead generation, marketing assures that 90 percent of their effort (and budget) is for naught, according to PointClear, as this is the percentage of leads generally ignored when sales realizes raw leads, not qualified leads, are coming their way. When sales reps become conditioned to distrust the majority of leads, they’re prone to not follow up on any of them.

What a waste. Marketing’s best laid efforts aren’t influencing the levels of revenue generation they should, and highly compensated sales people end up sourcing 60 percent of their leads rather than using their talents to close deals, according to Marketo.

It’s a frustrating and vicious cycle that involves plenty of finger-pointing. The marketing team, which expects recognition for all of those leads they’re generating, can’t understand why sales isn’t willing to sift through 100 leads to find the five that are worthwhile. Sales, which expects pipeline support, can’t understand why marketing doesn’t make sure the leads sent their way are qualified.

So whose job is lead filtration, qualification and development? If your organization, like many, leaves these functions up to sales, then the blame game continues. In this scenario it’s likely that marketing simply adds the leads to the pipeline as is. No one contacts or qualifies the inquirers. No one augments the leads with demographic and firmographic data. No one nurtures long-terms leads. And no one evaluates the effectiveness of the lead sources—beyond counting how many targets raised their hands. The expectation is that it’s sales' role to sort through the leads marketing generates. 

If, on the other hand, marketing is held accountable for quality, determining when leads are sales qualified (and which have potential once nurtured across one or more sales cycles), the outcome is far more productive. Sales reps receive leads that have been qualified. For example, each has already been contacted up to seven times via phone, voice message and email. Each is deemed to have progressed from unknown or long-term status to a near-term decision-making mode. And each is accompanied with complete contact history, a company profile, and an overview of the budget process, the decision timeline, individuals involved in the decision, any events or other factors driving the decision, pain points, hot buttons and competitive information.

When presented with a few well qualified leads, my friend, quoted in the first paragraph of this post, gives them priority attention. For one thing, he knows his regional manager will be inquiring about them. More importantly he knows from experience that these leads are real or he would not be getting them. His company has already established a relationship with the decision maker, who is expecting his call.

Which lead generation machine would your company’s sales force prefer—the one that passes along reams of unfiltered leads, or the one that gives a sales exec two sales opportunities expected to close within six months?

By focusing on delivering fewer, yet more qualified prospects, marketing has the very real potential to significantly impact its organization’s ability to generate revenue.

About the Author

FDan McDade is President and CEO of PointClear, LLC, a prospect development firm that helps B2B companies drive revenue by nurturing leads, engaging contacts and developing prospects until they're ready to purchase.

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