This is the classic battle between marketing and sales:  Marketing generates leads of dubious quality and sales cherry picks only those leads they deem “qualified.”  Herein lies the problem.  Sales ignores the vast majority of leads because they aren’t ‘hot’ enough.


So what?  Well… according to a Sirius Decisions study, 80% of leads classified as ‘Not Qualified’ by the Sales Force end up purchasing from their company or a competitor within 24 months.  That’s a staggering number! Think of the lost revenue.


Want to know what marketing leaders are going to do differently in 2013? Register HERE for our 6th annual research project, Making the Number: How your Peers are Allocating People, Money & Time in 2013.


In a recent survey conducted via LinkedIn, we asked marketing leaders around the globe what their focus will be in 2013.  65% of respondents said generating more quality leads will be their #1 goal.  Social Media and Content Creation were a distant second and third.


So if generating more quality leads is your peer’s number one focus in 2013, how does a marketing leader clear the “image hurdle?”  How does a marketing leader prove to sales that their leads are the “real deal?”


Here are two steps to a lead Image Makeover…


Defining a Lead

The first step to solving your lead problem is defining what a lead is.  Seems obvious, but our work with clients across 19 different industries reveals a startling fact – most sales organizations lack clarity around what defines a lead.  The definition is all over the board.  We asked executives, sales managers, marketing leaders and reps what their definition of a lead is.  The chart below is the result of our survey.


Lead Definition resized 600


Takeaway: There are a lot of definitions out there, even within the same sales organization.  Under these conditions, how is marketing supposed to know what good looks like?  The first call to action is to get Sales and Marketing together and agree on their definition of a lead. Only then can you build a process around qualifying it as Sales Ready.


Plugging the Leaky Funnel

The second major hurdle to generating quality leads is a Leaky Funnel.  Forrester Research compiled a study where they identified the B2B Lead Management Gap.  In their study, they exposed a vicious cycle:


  • Marketing hands off leads that are not qualified to Sales.
  • Sales cherry picks the ‘hot’ leads, ignores the rest and complains they aren’t getting enough good leads from Marketing.
  • In response, Marketing generates more leads but keeps sending unqualified leads to Sales.
  • Sales cherry picks, ignores and complains


You get the picture.  All the while, leads that have potential but need more nurturing leak out of the funnel.  And remember, 80% of these “Unqualified” leads will end up purchasing in (24) months from you or another vendor.


The solution to a leaky funnel is Lead Management.


B2B Lead Development Gap


The only way to plug the hole is to design and implement a process that captures leads that are not Sales Ready and nurtures them until qualified.  Like a Sales Process, a Lead Management Process has stages, activities, exit criteria and job aids.  And a lead must progress through the process, stage by stage.  Only then is it qualified and ready to send to Sales.


Let me leave you with a few stats that highlight the impact of a Lead Management Process.


  • 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months. (Source: Gartner Research)
  • 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.  (Source: DemandGen Report)


Is it worth the effort to invest in a Lead Management program? Absolutely!


If you have any questions about lead management, feel free to Contact Me.  And if you want to know how your peers are building World Class Lead Management teams, register HERE for our 6th Annual Research Project, Making the Number: How your Peers are Allocating People, Money & Time in 2013.