In many companies, the marketing and sales teams work in tandem, almost like they’re running a relay race. Marketing is responsible for generating leads, and uses a variety of methods to obtain those leads. They’ll continue working that process, until they reach a point at which they feel that the lead is “qualified”. At this point, they’ll like pass that lead on to the sales department, just as the relay runner passes the torch to the next runner in line.
Most salespeople I’ve known are hungry and eager to get their hands on any lead that falls in front of them. I’ve worked in sales “bullpens” and seen a horde of hungry salespeople all trying to jump on a new lead that comes in, almost like a pack of animals that hasn’t seen any food in weeks.
Still, experienced salespeople know that not all leads are created equal. While I’ve met sales guys who believe they can sell anything to anyone (even “ice cubes to Eskimos”), the reality is that not every lead is someone who is ready to buy, or is even ready to hear a sales pitch. We refer to those leads that are currently “hot” as “sales-ready”, and marketing should be passing the baton to sales when a lead is in that state.
What makes a lead “sales-ready”?
This is actually kind of a tricky question. My relay race analogy may break down a bit at this point. In the race, the runners know the exact point in at which one stops and the next runner picks up, but in the sales / marketing dichotomy, it’s not always that clear. There’s actually a fair amount of grey area at this point, and, recognizing when a lead is actually “sales-ready” is critical to maintain the balance between your sales and marketing groups.
There’s a bit of a challenge at this point. Sales typically will not want to waste their time on leads which they don’t feel have been sufficiently qualified. And of course, marketing doesn’t want to hold on to those leads for too long, since they are primarily tasked with generating more leads. To make matters just a little more complicated, we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that all sales-ready leads are presently “ready to buy”. “Sales-ready” really means only that the person is ready for calls or emails from a salesperson, and there’s no hard and fast rule as to when that threshold has been reached. Ultimately, we don’t know if a lead was “ready” until it either turns into a closed sale, or tells us to stop calling.
So how about those referral leads?
While not every lead that comes in through a referral is necessarily ready to buy, we feel strongly that a referral is already way ahead of leads generated by almost every other method.
The simple fact that a person got a referral from someone they know and trust tells us that they have an interest or a need in buying what you’re selling. And, as almost anyone in sales knows, customers trust referrals from their friends and family, which puts you far ahead of the hordes of competitors who are also vying for their business.
If you’re interested in developing a customer referral program, but don’t know the best way, why not give a call to the referral marketing experts at Get The Referral? We’ll be happy to set up a consultation and help you design the referral program that will help you close the most possible sales.