Getting quality sales leads doesn’t happen without a clear definition of a lead in mind.  You may think that the ability of sales and marketing to define solid lead definitions and ratings for their company is a well orchestrated, collaborative effort.  You may believe sales and marketing are producing well targeted leads, resulting in full sales pipelines chock full of qualified opportunities that convert to sales revenue.   Think again. For many companies today, this is not the case.

Effective Lead Generation Programs Have a Lead Definition Process

While there are many reasons why companies have failed to achieve success with lead definitions and rating scales, they still struggle to define and implement their lead definitions. Customizing Lead A-Lead X definitions for your environment is the critical and most difficult part.  You may be in the process of creating your lead definitions, or have found the ones you’ve developed aren’t working.  Here are a few guidelines to follow that have worked for us helping our clients.

How to Develop Lead Definitions for a Strong Sales Pipeline

  1. Review past history of lead definitions – Repeat successes; learn from failures. The simple W’s provide a good start. Has the company ever developed a lead definition and rating scale? What was it? When was it developed? Who developed it? When and how was it implemented? Did it work, and does it work now? Why or why not? Which leads resulted in sales? Which didn’t? What were the characteristics of those leads?
  2. Be clear and simple in lead definitions – Definitions should be comprehensive and thoughtful enough to separate tire kickers from the real buyers. It’s equally important that lead definitions are clear and simple to the qualifier so they can be accurate in their classification. Allow for definitions to include bad data and disqualification. Lead definitions should encompass all scenarios the qualifier may encounter during discussions.
  3. Standardize and agree upon a universal lead definition, to be used and communicated company wide – It should be understood that adaptation of an agreed upon lead definition will not happen by osmosis. Once lead definitions are agreed upon they should be introduced to all departments that interact with potential buyers and actual buyers. Be sure to get feedback from these departments:
    • Sales
    • Marketing
    • Customer Support
    • Client Services
    • Professional Services

    These departments need good working lead definitions to guide their decisions in qualifying opportunities, before passing them on to the next step in your process.

  4. Set up a recurring review process to adjust and effectively communicate the adjustments – What you develop and try round one will need to be tried, tested and adjusted. It’s important to obtain honest feedback about lead definitions as leads pass through the lead sales process using your newly defined lead definitions. Are the qualifiers accurately classifying leads? Why or why not? Are the lead definitions clear to them? Do the qualifiers frequently find themselves in situations where they are unsure how to classify a lead after a conversation? How are the hot leads progressing through the sales stages? What’s happening to the “interested buyers”? Are they eventually being passed to sales as hot leads or are they falling silent by the wayside? Answers to these questions may point to greater underlying issues, but they will help refine or solidify your lead definitions. Don’t forget to communicate the adjustments. You don’t want your front lines qualifying to yesterday’s news.

I hope these insights help you develop lead definitions that build a stronger pipeline.

If outreach list sources are on your mind this quarter, tune in next week for tips and resources.

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