One of the main purposes of any B2B Marketing organization is to generate contacts who may have an interest in buying your company’s product or service. You generate these contacts from email campaigns, search marketing, tradeshows, direct marketing and a range of other sources. Then you should decide which ones you hand over to your sales team as ‘leads’, which ones you will progress with yourself and which ones are to be discarded. Handing every contact over without some screening will drive your sales team nuts – a lot of the contacts will not be in buying mode and some may be invalid for other reasons. It’s better to filter the leads in marketing first so you sales staff can devote their time to pursuing the best quality leads rather than qualifying out low grade contacts. Your marketing team can carry out this pre-qualification to sort out ’sales ready’ leads from ‘marketing leads to be followed up by us’ by using a structured process. First, define (with Sales) what consitutes a ’sale ready lead’, then define what is a ‘Marketing Lead’, and finally define what characteristics indicate that a lead is definitely not of interest. Use this definition to screen all incoming contacts, passing the best ones straight to sales, holding some for further processing, and removing those that are deemed unusable.
Brian Carroll from InTouch has a great post on some of the steps you should take to screen the leads, and suggestions on what marketing can do with leads that are not yet ’sales ready’ but which you should ‘nurture’ until they’re ready to buy.