When and How to Hand-Off Leads to Your Sales Team
One of the most important steps in lead management is the lead hand-off: passing the lead from Marketing to Sales. This is a critical step where a lot of companies let the leads slip through the cracks. Poor processes at this point will hurt the conversion rate really bad.
Before you even think of officializing the hand-off process, you need to do your homework to ensure you’re delivering the right leads to your Sales team. I’m going to assume that you’ve already taken those steps, so this blog post will NOT cover how to define your ideal customer or how to create your buyer personas. It will focus instead on how you can get the most qualified leads from the lead nurturing phase to the sales development phase.
When to hand-off leads
First of all, when is the right time to hand-off your hard-earned Marketing Qualified Leads to the Sales team? There are two conditions that signal when the time is right.
The lead must be warm or, in other words, they have hopefully had a few touches with your company—whether it was by visiting your website, opening and clicking emails, converting to your marketing offers, or simply engaging with your company on social media. This will save your Sales team from dealing with defensive individuals and the deadly “who’s calling again?” from prospects.
Next, the leads must be qualified. You must have accumulated or associated enough data around the lead to compare their profile with your ideal customer. For example, does their job title fit one of your buyer personas? Does their company size, revenue, and location fit your target market?
The best way to assess both the “warmth” and the qualification of a lead is by using lead scoring. When a lead hits a certain score that is known and agreed upon by both the Sales and Marketing teams, the hand-off should be triggered.
How to hand-off leads
Great. Now that you have a warm and qualified lead, you will need them to land on someone’s desk. Hopefully, that co-worker is notified so they can reach out to the lead in a timely manner.
There are many different ways you can set up the hand-off: emails, notifications, reports, lists, tasks, etc. This will mostly depend on which marketing automation software you are using and which CRM your Sales team has adopted.
My personal favorite is sending an automated email that includes a lot of context around the lead. Context is important for your Sales team to understand the intent and the interests of a lead. What were they last doing on our site? Where did they hear about you? What type of resources are they interested in? Also, why are they suddenly considered a qualified lead? Is it because of recent actions on your site, or is it because of newly found information about them?
All this info will give your Sales team a head start and allow them to reach out to the leads while they’re hot. Your Sales rep is 100 times more likely to make contact on the first call if they follow up within 5 minutes of a form submission than they are 30 minutes later.
The hand-off is not the only time you should notify the Sales team though. You should keep your Sales team updated throughout the buying process, whenever their prospects attend one of your online events, download bottom of the funnel content, etc.
For example, when we host a live webinar at Uberflip, I share the list of attendees with the Sales team so they can review which of their prospects were present, if they asked any questions, and more. This allows them to follow up and make sure that we’ve answered all of their questions.
Closing the loop
Once the leads are in Sales territory, the job is not over. We must close the loop, or you will never improve.
If you’ve done the first part well, a large enough proportion of the leads that the Sales team receives will be more open to having a conversion, agreeing to a demo of your product, and even becoming a customer. You need to know who they are, and what made the contact successful. Was there a secret ingredient that you should add to your lead scoring formula? Collect data on every lead who turns into an opportunity and try to find patterns.
Of course, many of the leads you send in your Sales team way will not turn into sales opportunities. They will either not be the right fit for your product, or will not be ready to buy at the moment. Put those leads back into the nurturing stage until the next check-in from the Sales team. Keep providing them with the most value you can through content and resources so that the next time they need a solution, they will have your product top of mind.
There will always be a few people who will be offended that you directed your sales arsenal at them, and they will ask your rep to never ever contact them again. It’s very important to respect their choice because refusing to do so never goes anywhere. Make sure that there is a process in place to sync email opt-outs from Sales outreach between your CRM and your marketing automation platform.
By properly closing the loop, your marketing team will improve its lead generation program, better qualify its leads, and your sales team will spend more of their time talking to the right people. The right processes in place will have a compound impact on your results and will dramatically increase your capacity to convert website visitors into happy customers.