Marketing Blog & News

Four Ways to Improve the Lead-to-Sales Handoff

In this article, written by TeleNet and recently published by MarketingProfs , you will learn…

  • Four techniques for improving the sales-to-lead handoff
  • What to include in your lead follow-up protocols

Does this describe a familiar situation?

As a marketer, you create an effective demand generation campaign, which peaks the interest of your prospects and entices them to respond. Those responses are sent directly to your trained telequalification team, who works to determine which companies have a real need to purchase your solution. Then, those qualified “sales-ready” leads are delivered to your sales organization; each lead containing details of the company’s pending evaluation and purchase plans with important information to assist with sales follow-up.

You’ve done your job. Now, it’s time to watch the magic – Sales will convert your highly qualified leads into opportunities and eventually new business. Your marketing ROI will be outstanding.

But, that doesn’t happen. The pipeline barely increases. Why?

You investigate, finding that a significant portion of your leads are now dead. You approach the sales organization to ask for feedback. And here’s what you hear: “The leads look great, but we can’t get them on the phone. We left a couple messages, but they didn’t call back. They must not really be interested. The leads are dead.”

Arrrr!

If that situation sounds familiar, you’re not alone. One of the primary challenges in ensuring that a high percentage of qualified leads successfully convert to pipeline is the sales organization’s ability to establish contact.

The good news is that Marketing—more specifically, the telequalification teams—can use various techniques to improve the lead-to-sales handoff, including the following four techniques.

  • Secure a Phone Appointment – Instead of leaving it up to the sales account executive (AE) to reestablish contact with the lead, the telequalification team can schedule phone appointments. This tactic requires some logistics, such as gaining access to the AEs’ calendars and determining an acceptable time for appointments to be scheduled. The telequalification agent can book appointments immediately, providing both the AE and the lead contact with a Microsoft Outlook meeting notice for their calendars.
  • Warm Transfer “Hot” Leads – Depending on the structure of your sales team, it may also be possible to set up a warm transfer process in which the telequalification agent immediately transfers qualified, “sales-ready” leads directly to members of the inside sales organization, facilitating immediate sales engagement.
  • Determine Best Timeframe for Follow-up – For some large organizations, setting phone appointments just doesn’t work logistically. As an alternative, the telequalification agent should ask each lead contact when they will be ready to speak with a sales representative based on their evaluation timetable. Also, they can find out which day(s) of the week and time(s) of day are best to reach each lead – for example, “Friday morning is the best day of the week to reach Mr. Jones.” They can even determine if phone or email is the best method for initial communication. All of this information can greatly help the sales organization establish contact.
  • Provide a Soft Introduction via Email – Upon the close of a call, the telequalification agent can send an email to the lead contact as a means of recapping their conversation. By copying the appropriate AE, this email can also act as a soft introduction between the two parties. This process will help the AE to more easily establish contact and is another alternative to scheduling appointments or warm transferring leads.

In determining which techniques will work best for your organization, don’t forget to also consider the prospect’s experience. For instance, if you cannot ensure that a sales representative will be available to receive a warm transfer, then that could result in a negative experience for your prospect – like sitting on hold for a long period of time. In this case, warm transferring would not be an ideal option for your organization.

The best lead-to-sales processes are established jointly with sales management. In addition to the techniques recommended, it’s also important to establish sales follow-up guidelines. Through my experience managing a sales organization and also working with our client’s sales teams, I’ve found that individual account executives can approach their leads very differently. Some will call their leads relentlessly in order to establish contact, while others may only make one or two attempts before assuming it is dead. Therefore, it’s also important for sales management to establish specific lead follow-up protocols for their sales organization, including:

  • Minimum number of attempts that must be made to each lead
  • Expected timeframe for follow-up
  • Appropriate steps in the follow-up process
  • CRM documentation requirements

As these guidelines are established, make sure to communicate the sales processes to the marketing and telequalification teams, so that they can always set clear next steps with each lead. This communication is yet another way to improve the lead handoff.
Improving the lead-to-sales handoff and setting specific lead follow-up guidelines benefits everyone. The marketing and telequalification teams will see a higher ROI from their efforts. The sales organization will close more business.

Most importantly, prospects will have a positive experience working with your organization, and that positive experience will help to establish them as long-term customers.