What makes a lead "sales-ready"? an inquiry that has been qualified and ranked by criteria that both sales and marketing agree upon

The term “sales-ready” is heard frequently in B2B lead management. Studies show that making a lead “sales-ready” will dramatically increase your overall close rate from the same flow of leads, and enhance the level of engagement and responsiveness from your sales force or channel partners. So, what makes a lead “sales-ready”?

Sales and marketing usually have very different definitions:

Sales: “Someone that is ready to buy now.

Marketing: “A prospect that has achieved a sufficient lead rank or score, based on pre-defined criteria for both level of interest and appropriateness of opportunity.

We believe the best practice for defining a “sales-ready” lead can only come through collaboration between sales and marketing: “A sales-ready lead is an inquiry that has been qualified and ranked by criteria that both sales and marketing agree upon.” Specifically, “sales-ready” leads should meet the following 5 criteria:

  1. Need
  2. Application
  3. Money
  4. Timing
  5. Decision authority

Only when a lead meets these 5 criteria, should it be turned over to the sales department. This will result in fewer leads going to the sales force. Sales-ready leads will help your reps be more productive as they spend less time on lower quality or not-ready prospects, and begin to have more relevant conversations and be able to help solve immediate problems for higher quality prospects.

Marketing teams should use qualification and behavior tracking tactics (i.e. email, telemarketing, marketing automation, etc.) to identify leads that are not sales-ready and funnel them into a lead nurturing program. There, they can keep them engaged with content and tools appropriate to where they are at in their buying cycle, until finally, they are sales-ready. These steps help maximize yield from your best leads and keeps your sales team highly productive.

When it comes to turning over leads to the sales department, think quality over quantity. Generating, developing and delivering sales-ready leads is critical for B2B marketing professionals. Companies that do it well gain productivity from their sales force, close a higher percentage of opportunities and optimize their business development resources.

How does your organization define “sales-ready”?

01/03/2013

About Andy Mahler

Andy co-founded The Mx Group in 1989 and has led it to become a consistently profitable and growing integrated B2B marketing agency. Focused on database marketing, demand generation and lead management long before it was in vogue for the market at large, Andy has also advocated for all things digital since the mid-1990s, helping transform client programs in the process. He has worked closely with hundreds of B2B companies throughout the U.S. to help guide them in their strategic marketing and management efforts, and he thrives on helping clients and staff connect the dots between strategy, creative / digital execution and business generation. He holds a degree in business administration and marketing from California State University, Chico.