Sales orchestration series: what is a lead?

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We’ve talked about Prospect Relationship Management for over 15 years, delivering support to our clients by providing new customer acquisition that follows the same rigour, tenacity and consistency as a solid CRM strategy.  

In this three-part blog, we’re exploring what it means to take cold data through to sales conversion, and why the old school methods of doing just that don’t cut it anymore. 

It seems that the term ‘lead’ is thrown around a lot these days, with many variations in what constitutes a lead, often determined by which part of the sales process you looking at. 

Sales View

If you’re in sales, then you’ve likely had countless leads passed to you from marketing initiatives such as:

  • Events
  • Content downloads
  • Speculative inbound enquiries

In our experience, the stigma attached to these types of leads be that they’re not quite ‘sales-ready’, and you’re more likely to focus on following up ‘referral leads’ - those sent to you by contacts in your network – because of the level of trust implied.

However, many of those referrals aren’t qualified either, nowhere near to being able to transact.

So, with your busy schedule how do you find time to fit in cold calling to identify opportunities with entirely new prospects? Well, we know it’s not easy, especially as it takes on average four calls to a business to achieve a decision maker engagement – and you have to keep in mind, these can’t be consecutive calls – they must be delivered at an organic pace respecting, within reason, the prospects need for the next call.

So, is there more value you can gain from those marketing leads?

Marketing View

Marketers become frustrated that sales teams don’t see the apply the same scientific approach to their data that marketing teams use when develop characteristics that determine the target customer. Marketers spend time planning and applying this reasoning to datasets and campaign plans to attract brand new customers (prospects) and then execute these campaigns across a range of demand generative media 

It takes a great deal of time, effort, resource and understanding to derive trends from campaigns. And that’s just the starting point. There’s planning, branding, design, further executions all implemented as part of this learning process. But it could go further. 

Deeper analysis and interrogation can help to evolve trends and insight into meaningful, relevant and timely communications. Using real customer data in the planning process has a much better chance of increasing the volume of inbound response, or at the very least, increase awareness of the  proposition relevant to business goals that is more relevant than with the absence of data. 

Finding Common Ground

The challenge we see over and over is that sales and marketing seem to clash, even though they are two parts of the same engine. Marketing is designed to educate a buyer so that they can make an informed, committed decision to engage with the sales team. The sales role is then to convert these opportunities into tangible, future proof revenue streams. 

You wouldn’t sip water from a sieve so don’t expect the sales team to.  

Communication is key. It’s vital that both teams have a mutual understanding of each other’s functions, the challenges they face, the capacity they have and the value they deliver 

By including the sales team in (or at the very least, senior sales stakeholder) in exploration sessions, planning workshops and insight forums, then you’re creating opportunities to really interrogate and respond effectively. You might also gain some valuable insight from the front line that could be turned into key messages and channel activations that are best aligned to customer needs 

Likewise, the sales team need to understand and respect the journey that a prospect has been onincluding the messages they’ve been exposed to, and the work the marketing team have done to arrive at this point. So, when they engage, they are best equipped to take the prospect journey to the next stage of the sales process. 

So, what is a lead?

Our definition of a lead is a prospect or customer that it is ‘conversation ready’.  

They have a willingness to openly discuss their business and/or a specific requirement with a salesperson. If we compare this to police work, a forensic lead is something tangible that is the catalyst for a step forward in an investigation. In sales & marketing, it’s the same thing – a step forward towards new revenue. 

Don’t be mistaken – this could take different forms and it’s important that the iterations of each lead are signposted and communicated internally. For example: 

  • An existing customer wanting to renew a contract  
  • An existing customer looking to introduce another site or product into your partnership 
  • A prospect open to discuss your whole solution 
  • A prospect keen to get quote on just one item from your portfolio 

All the above present opportunities to take a step forward, and there’s countless more. 

Being clear that each lead type holds value, and recognising that we all have had a part to play in moving prospects from awareness to consideration makes the difference when it comes to the delicate approach we take to follow up.  

Remembering that leads are usually a biproduct of some form of initial engagement, you should be conscious when it comes to addressing how you nurture a relationship to the point of sales transactionDon’t worry though, we’ve got that covered in part two. 

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This article is published by Golley Slater PRM.
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