Marketing and Sales Should Work Together to Define How Leads Get Scored and Routed

Blair Symes Senior Director of Product Marketing, DialogTech

How do you measure the success of your lead generation campaigns? The answer matters, because how you define success impacts how you plan your campaigns.

For example, when I started doing lead gen over a decade ago, the only metrics we cared about were total leads generated and cost per lead (CPL). Those were the data points we would examine for each campaign to determine its effectiveness. And those were the figures we would review each month with our executive team to evaluate how marketing was performing.

Because lead volumes and cost were all we cared about, our lead gen plans focused on generating the most leads at the lowest price. We didn’t consider the quality of the leads or what happened to them after they came in. All leads were considered equal, and we would simply lob them all over the wall to our sales team and consider it sales’ responsibility to take it from there.

But as our marketing evolved, our focus shifted from trying to generate huge lead numbers to focusing more on driving sales opportunities and pipeline. After all, those were the figures that impacted the business, they were the figures our execs cared about, and it just didn’t make any sense to call a campaign that cost $10,000 and generated 1,000 leads successful if none of those leads ever converted to an opportunity.

If your marketing team measures campaign success by the amount of opportunities and pipeline generated, it changes how you plan campaigns. Because your sales team will be the one engaging with leads and converting them to opportunities, you should sit down with sales management before beginning a campaign to agree on a how leads are managed.

Define What Leads Qualify to Go to Sales

Depending on the nature of your business, it’s likely that not every lead you generate should go straight to sales for follow up. And you don’t want sales agents wasting time calling or fielding calls from leads that aren’t ready to engage.

That’s why marketing and sales teams should agree on what a qualified lead is before beginning a campaign. For example, if you are creating a campaign to drive registrations for a new eBook, you may want to ask:

  • Does your sales team want to call every lead back, or do they only want to call people who have budget, decision-making authority, and/or an urgent need for your solution?
  • Does a lead’s past activity count? Does your sales team care if the lead downloaded other eBooks or watched a webinar in the past month?
  • Does the lead’s company matter? Do you have priority accounts where the sales manager wants to be sent every new lead that comes in?
  • And what if instead of downloading the eBook, they called the phone number on your promotional email, direct mail piece, or web page? Should every inbound call go straight to a sales person, or should callers be qualified too?

There are dozens of ways leads can be qualified and scored, and what your sales team considers a qualified lead can vary from campaign to campaign. Sitting down with them to agree on what leads they want to engage with makes them more efficient and helps improve your conversion rates, and that benefits your campaign success.

Decide Who in Sales Should Get What Lead

Once you decide what leads should be passed to sales, you should also decide how those leads are routed. Some questions to consider for lead routing can include:

  • Should all leads simply be put in a general pool and handled on a first come, first serve basis?
  • Should leads be routed based on the person’s location, company, or industry?
  • Does their product interest factor in to how they are routed?
  • What about the time of day the lead comes in?
  • Should higher-performing sales agents get sent more leads than less effective reps?

When you are judged on how many opportunities your marketing generates, who in sales you send leads to matters. Be sure leads for each program are routed in a way that maximizes their chance of conversion.

Agree on How Quickly Sales Must Contact a Qualified Lead

While you are sitting down with sales, you should also agree on how quickly they must follow up with each new lead. How fast sales can get a lead on the phone has a direct impact on conversion rates and therefore on the success of your programs. And since marketing is doing its part to ensure only the right leads go to the right reps, sales should be held accountable for how fast they follow up with each lead.

Marketing Technologies Can Help Automate Lead Scoring and Routing

Once you have agreed on how leads should be scored and routed, you can use various marketing technologies to automate the process.

Marketing automation tools like Marketo or Eloqua can help with leads from web form downloads. They can automatically score leads based on contact information, what is being downloaded, the lead’s past interaction with your website, how they answer your qualifying questions, and more. They can then email qualified leads to the right sales rep or group of reps based on that scoring. Marketing automation tools can also integrate with CRM systems like Salesforce.com and assign leads to the correct rep’s queue.

For inbound phone leads, you can use next-generation call tracking tools to automate scoring and routing. They can drive callers to an IVR (interactive voice response) phone menu that asks qualifying questions and only passes qualified callers to sales for a conversation. Call tracking tools can also route callers to a rep or group of reps based on a wide variety of criteria, including the caller’s geography, product interest, time of day, ad or web page they called from, and much more.

And like marketing automation tools, call tracking tools also integrate with your CRM system. Using all three technologies together, you can track web and phone leads back to the specific marketing campaign that originated them, then through your sales cycle. You can also generate closed-loop reports that prove to your executive team how marketing programs are driving opportunities, pipeline, and revenue.

To learn more about using call tracking and marketing automation tools to improve lead gen, download the white paper Tracking Phone Leads: The Missing Piece of Marketing Automation .