B2Bs are focused on lead generation, but that is just one step in a more lengthy sales process. What happens once a company gets a lead is just as, if not more, important for business success. Once a lead is generated, they must continue to move further though the sales funnel. No lead should slip through the cracks or be ignored. However, not all leads are created equal. The status of the lead will determine what happens next, or more precisely, who takes the reigns. Should the lead be passed on to the sales team, marketing team, or an outsourced prospecting partner? How do you decide?
Who should take control of the lead?
To determine who should “take control” of the lead, a lead scoring process must be put into place. Lead scoring is the process of ranking leads based on their perceived value to the company, and whether or not they have the ideal traits your company is looking for in a customer or client. Of course, what each company is looking for will vary but often level of need or interest and the buying timeframe determine the score of a lead.
Determining the primary contact is also important. For example, if the lead is an administrative assistant, it’s likely the lead is just beginning their research phase. If the lead is a decision maker or top-level executive, there’s a greater likelihood that they are closer to making a purchase. In addition, scores are determined by prior interaction with the company or brand. If they have been following the company in social media, receiving email newsletters, and downloading whitepapers for quite some time, they understand what the company is about and are likely closer to taking the next step.
Based on this information a sales lead can be hot, warm, or cold:
Hot leads are the most valuable at that moment in time. They should be the focus of the sales team’s attention and should be of the highest priority since there is the potential to quickly close the sale.
Warm leads are interested and could potentially become hot, but it might not be the right time. These leads will need further nurturing. Warm leads can be passed on to an outsourced prospecting partner that can work towards turning them into hot leads for the sales team.
Cold leads have a low perceived value. However, “perceived” is the key term. It is still worthwhile to connect with them and start a conversation because a “cold lead” could easily turn into a warm or hot lead depending on how well they move through the sales cycle.
A lead scoring process prevents a leaky sales funnel. With a plan in place, it ensures that every lead gets passed on to someone who will either turn the lead into a sale or nurture the lead and move him or her from cold to warm and warm to hot leads. Everyone knows “who owns what.”
An efficient lead scoring process focuses the sales and marketing teams and improves the overall conversion process. It’s worth continually revisiting lead scoring definitions as a team to make sure everyone is all on the same page as to the definitions in order to always prevent a leaky funnel.