21 Aug 2013

Why the Definition of a Qualified Sales Lead is Critical to Your Career Success

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Why is This Important: The definition of a Qualified Sales Lead is a critical part of your Marketing and Sales Engine. The overall goal of the Lead Generation Team is to produce Qualified Sales Leads for both the Inside Sales Force and the Field Sales Force.

 qualified leadsAn Annoyed CEO: I was consulting with one company where Marketing and Sales could not agree on a definition. This lack of agreement adversely affected the funding of the proper marketing programs, the proper sizing of the sales force, and ultimately revenues. This led to much ridiculous bickering between Sales and Marketing and to the inability to determine accurately conversion rates through the entire Marketing and Sales Pipeline, which infuriated the CEO. This caused the CEO to lose faith in both the VP of Sales and the VP of Marketing because of their inability to “get their act together”.

 Metrics: In a normal sales cycle, an Inside Sales Rep or a Field Sales Rep should close 1 deal for every 5 Qualified Sales Leads that are handed to him/her. In addition, most likely, 2 of the 5 Qualified Sales Leads will stall and the other 2 of the 5 will be lost to a competitor. Below is our suggested definition of a Qualified Sales Lead.


 Definition of a Qualified Sales Lead

  1. Target Market: Must be an account in one of your targeted vertical industries (as Financial), or in your targeted revenue range (as $500M – $2B), or in your defined geographic location (only North America).
  2. Decision Maker or Influencer: The contact must be either the final decision-maker or a key influencer.
  3. Project, Team, Pain, Interest: The Lead must be driven by the prospect:
    1. Having a specific on-going project to buy your type of solution or
    2. Currently having a team looking into solutions like yours or
    3. Being in real pain to find a solution like yours or
    4. Having a genuine interest in your solution such that the prospect is willing to engage in a sales cycle with you to learn more
  4. Urgency: There must be an event or time trigger that will cause enough urgent need for the prospect to make a decision in the timeframe you need.
  5. Environment:  There must be no obvious technical objections to our solution. For example, if the prospect is a MAC shop only and your solution runs only on Windows, it is not a Qualified Sales Lead.
  6. Budget: They currently have budget, or they can get it if you make your case. If they have no budget to buy in your usual sales cycle, they are not a Qualified Sales Lead
  7. Timeframe: They can buy in the timeframe of your sales cycle, such as 0- 6 months.
  8. Willing to start a sales process: Very importantly, they are willing to take the next step in the sales cycle and get a phone call or have a meeting with the Inside Sales Rep or the Field Sales Rep.

Final Comment: The strictness of this definition can vary of course. For example, if you have a very new and unique product, the Budget criteria can be very loose because the prospect most likely doesn’t even have a budget line-item for this new product category.  On the other hand, if you have a very well known product and product category, you can require the Project/Team/Pain/Interest criteria to be strongly in place before the lead is accepted as a Qualified Sales Lead.



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