During my years as an Inside Sales rep, I've always appreciated working with the young hungry territory reps willing to talk to anyone "with a pulse". While I could appreciate that work ethic and the tenacity that hungrier reps displayed, I usually found that passing over anything lukewarm usually resulted in a lead that didn't go anywhere...and generally I was cold calling back into that company months later.
On the other side of the coin, I struggled when passing leads to the veteran sales folks who wanted every opportunity completely teed up. They were only willing to dedicate their time to prospects that had a purchase time frame within the next three months AND were willing to share with us the specific dollar amount set aside. While those opportunities do exist, you are lucky to come across something that like while teleprospecting maybe once a month, and that's after slogging away making 100 dials a day. It's unfortunate, but my experience has been that most veteran sales guys can forget how much effort goes into just getting a decision maker on the phone, let alone expect us to find the kinds of sales opportunities that they seem to think just grow on trees.
We know it can be difficult to satisfy the various sales personalities on your team. But realistically, what should your sales teams expect from the leads you are passing their way? Should you pass them anyone who wants to talk? Or should you just give them those rare to find A+ leads?
From my perspective, a "true sales lead" is more than an appointment with a tire kicker. And while we wish every lead your sales team receives will meet their A+ lead criteria, the reality is that the best sales organizations we've worked with make sure every one of their reps are focused on engaging both A and B quality leads, otherwise they will be working only a handful of deals a quarter. The most successful sales reps realize that even the A and B leads require a very focused effort for the opportunity to eventually land on forecast.
My definition of a quality sales opportunity is as follows:
"An actionable lead with a defined pain, time frame to evaluate/install and budget dollars are set or can be reallocated."
Here is the information we feel your sales prospecting reps need to capture in order to classify a lead as a quality amd actionable opportunity:
- Outline of pass-down process (When using the top down approach, it is good for the sales rep to know where you started within an organization)
- Current technology/service in use
- A clear understanding of the prospects pain/needs and what they would like to change with current technology
- Time frame on when they are looking to make a change ( 6-12 Months otherwise we nurture)
- Decision making process- Who is involved- From C-Level on down
- Budgetary process outlined
- Set a specific meeting time with the outside rep!
*Following this qualification process, we've found that 40% of the opportunities we pass to our clients are converted to forecasted revenue.
The bottom line is that it's important for both marketing and sales to agree upon their definition of a "sales quality opportunity," otherwise you will never know when it's appropriate to get a lead in the hands of an outside rep. Honestly, if you got a guy that expects to have his opportunities hand fed to him on a silver platter, then tell him it's time to get off his duff and do his job. If you're qualifying leads incorporating the questions listed above, the quality will speak for itself and the reps with the appropriate mind-set should be ecstatic to call on them.
What about you? Do you agree with my definition? What would you add or take away?
Craig Ferrara is the Vice President of Client Operations for AG Salesworks. He has extensive experience in the sales and teleprospecting process. Craig joined AG Salesworks in 2003 and has successfully managed several teams of high-performing Business Development Representatives. To read more of his articles, click here.