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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lead Nurturing Fundamentals -- Sales Discussion

In my first post on Lead Nurturing Fundamentals I talked about the need for marketing to do its homework. Marketers need to come with a clear sense of who they are seeking out and what prospects they feel are the best to pass along to sales.


Why do we need to do that work before talking with sales? A manager of mine had the mantra "The most organized person in the room wins." We need a clear evaluation of what our assumptions about the market are and how we incorporate that into our daily work. The more organized you are the better able you'll be to steer the conversation.

And because Sales is going to tear at least some of our assumptions down. But it's OK, that's what we want.  What we don't want is an unfocused meeting questioning why marketing wants to do this; why sales is fine the way it is; and demands that marketing just send over more names.

Let's talk about how to structure a meeting with sales that so that it can be productive for both sides. I would try to keep the meeting to 1-2 hours, give everyone an agenda, and define who is running the meeting to keep moving.

Oh, and one more thing, don't expect to come out of this meeting with a lead definition that both sides agree on. What we want is a framework that can be used to hammer out the details of defining a lead. (Realistically, even an all day meeting is unlikely to produce this definition as you'll feel there's more time to dive into details but probably just end up talking in circles around why this should be done at all.)
  1. Have Sales rank the Demographic or BANT variables you've defined. Don't show them marketing's rankings yet. This is an exercise that can take all your time if you let it. Don't force the entire sales team to come to a consensus in this meeting. Just ask them where their sweet-spots are.
  2. Define any pre-qualification actions that marketing must take with newly generated leads.
  3. Define thresholds for escalating leads based on ranked criteria. When should they go to telequalifying? Insides Sales? Sales Rep?
  4. Define qualification actions or follow-up that sales must take with any marketing qualified leads (MQL).
  5. Define how leads must be passed back to marketing if they are not accepted by sales (Sales Accepted Leads - SAL)
  6. Define who will have responsibility for nurturing SALs that are not Sales Qualified Leads (SQL). Does that pass back to marketing? Inside Sales? Or stay with the Sales Rep?
Depending on the make-up of your sales process, some of those steps may be shorter discussions than others. Remember, you don't need to hammer out every detail in this meeting

Your main objective is to set-up the framework so that you can go back and hammer out the details. Then present the full-fledged plan, with lead definitions and processes, for sales and management reivew (and hopefully approval). The process won't be easy, so expect to put some time and elbow grease into it.

Finally, though this is at the end of the post, let me reiterate that you want to approach sales management before going through this exercise and get them on-board early with concept of lead nurturing as a way to close more sales deals and keep the pipeline full.

Links tagged on Delicious.com as: Lead+Nurturing

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