I read an article this morning entitled “What is a Sales-Ready Lead, and Why You Need to Know” by David Dodd that takes a decent shot at defining a sales ready lead. Here’s the criteria he puts forward:
These criteria are a great place start, but there are two essential questions to consider when creating the definition of a Sales Ready Lead:
1. How Loaded is your Salesforce?
If your Salesforce is overloaded, then forcing every single lead to meet the above criteria might make sense. An overloaded Salesforce can afford to cherry pick, and should only be handed the leads that are heavily qualified and ready to buy. In this situation letting some good quality leads that don’t exactly meet these criteria slip the cracks is ok.
But for a lightly loaded Salesforce, one’s Sales Ready Lead definition should be substantially lower with far fewer questions. A lightly loaded Salesforce has time and can find or develop gold and having them follow-up on “almost-qualified” leads is far better than having them cold call! Far fewer questions would be appropriate for a lightly loaded Salesforce.
The bottom line here, is that an automated system can never do what a skilled human can do. A skilled salesperson can develop immediate interest via a conversation that an automated system might miss. If your reps have bandwidth, lower your Sales Ready Lead criteria. If they don’t, raise the bar and give ‘em the best of the best.
2. Politically, what level of lead-gating is your Salesforce ready to accept?
In many companies, sales doesn’t trust marketing’s processes, and sometimes for good reason. It may be a simple issue of not getting sales’ buy-in, or the processes may not have been created to consider the sales perspective. Good leads can be missed by overzealously programmed marketing automation systems and until trust is established gating is risky from both a political and a revenue perspective.
Typically we see company’s marketing-sales relationship go through 3 stages. Knowing politically which stage your Salesforce is at can help you define what a “Sales Ready Lead” should mean. Check out our post on “The 3 Stages of the Lead Scoring Relationship.”