Creating a sales development group for better lead qualification!

We recently took another look at Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Sales Lead Qualification and Sales Development. In this guide, Marketo is advocating the creation of a Sales Development Group: a collection of reps whose singular focus is on lead qualification and data capture.

This is an interesting idea.

We agree that lead qualification is the true intersection of sales and marketing. But in these challenging economic times, how likely is it that organizations will be willing to invest the necessary resources to create a separate Sales Development Team? Not likely. But we think there is no better time.

Don’t take our word for it. Here are the key takeaways from Marketo’s guide:

  • A 5 minute response time is optimum on follow-up of leads received through a company website. Yes, you read that correctly. Depending on how much traffic your website receives, to provide a 5-minute lead response, you may need dedicated resources such as a Sales Development team. Still not convinced? The odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times. And from 5 minutes to 10 minutes the dial to qualify odds decrease 4 times. (Source: Lead Response Management Study)
  • Marketo recommends you focus your experienced (and best-paid) salespeople exclusively on closing. Don’t pay them their high-end salaries to waste time with leads that are early in the buying cycle. This is where your Sales Development reps should focus their time and energy.
  • Don’t ask salespeople to enter and/or track their own data. They don’t want to do it and they make mistakes. This is something the Sales Development reps should do to ensure data accuracy and better information for optimization.
  • Remove the guesswork from determining when marketing passes a lead to the Sales Development team. Implement a lead scoring system. Not only does this ensure a high quality of leads are passed along, it builds credibility that the process is working.

If creating a separate group dedicated to lead qualification isn’t in your company’s immediate future (or budget), there are a few steps you can take right now to help point your resources in that direction.

  • Make marketing responsible for lead qualification. Determine the transition point from marketing to sales and make it a meaningful one that both teams agree upon. The goal is to only hand over qualified leads and not throw everything over the fence. Check out Go-To-Market Strategies’ Promotions/Lead Generation Pack of templates for some helpful tools to get you started.
  • Capture your sales and marketing data and report on metrics. Create a Sales & Marketing Scorecard to track performance of sales and marketing activities at each stage of the sales process to show monthly and annual results. Not only will a combined reporting tool help hold both groups accountable to each other, it will raise awareness about actual results. Our Marketing Audit Template Pack can help.
  • Train your lead qualification resources like you train your salespeople. Personal attention and effective conversation is the key for turning prospects into customers, make sure your lead qualification reps are comfortably well-versed in your offering, customer pain points you solve, and common objections and responses. Our Sales Training Pack and Sales Management Pack of templates will guide you through this process.

In today’s economy, every lead counts. We need to orient our sales and marketing teams towards effective and efficient lead qualification. Make sure to download Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Sales Lead Qualification and Sales Development for more terrific insights.

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