If you work in sales or marketing then the word “lead” can either be a driver for your work or the biggest pain of your life.
The idea is simple; a lead is a piece of information that you can use to contact a prospective new customer.
The perfect business lead would contain the names, addresses and phone numbers of the team of people within a company that have identified a problem that your company is capable of solving. These people also would have a time-line in mind to solve this problem and a defined budget in mind AND they have asked for a salesman from your company to call.
When marketing give a fully detailed lead to the sale team, it’s a wonderful moment, where proud marketers carry this perfect lead to the sales people, and the sales people smile, take control of the lead, call the customer and shortly after ring the bell, crack open the champers and pat the marketing teams on their backs, all feeling that a job has been well done.
Strangely enough this scenario doesn’t happen that often.
What actually happens is quite different.
The marketing team are given a target of how many leads they must deliver to sales. And so they deliver them.
Every time a customer reads an email that was sent, that’s a lead, which is passed to sales.
Every time a card is scanned at a trade show, that’s a lead, which is passed to sales.
Every time a prospect goes to the website, downloads a paper or does anything which identifies them as a person who can fog a mirror (ie. Is alive), that’s a lead, which is passed to sales.
Marketing make their quota of leads passed to sales, get their on-target earnings and move on, while sales think marketing have no idea what they are doing and are just annoyed at these low quality leads.
On the other hand sales need leads, so in the absence of high quality leads they will dumpster dive, calling every potential prospect that hopefully will take their call. But it’s not a good relationship or situation.
Of course there is immense pressure on sales, not just to make their quota of sales but also to meet numerous other metrics. Todays ERP, CRM and sales management systems allow sales people to be tracked in a million ways. And to meet their on-target earnings they need to meet every measure.
All of this leads to people learning how to punk the system, to most effectively meet their goals, while avoiding as much scrutiny as possible.
EVERY salesman has a list of deals they are working on, that are outside of what they report to their management. This allows they to manage the most effective way to deliver the sales while maximizing their income, and also creates a massive gap between what the management of company knows and what the sales people know.
Sales people and marketing people are smart, they all have degrees, many have multiple degrees, and they know how to survive.
There are some companies that have addressed these challenges, but it’s hard and therefore rare.
If you don’t know what it takes to create a perfect lead, then you need to know how to help sales with imperfect leads. If you avoid this issue you are wasting a massive amount of your teams time and resources.