Only through a good cooperation between marketing and sales can you turn a stranger into a visitor, then a lead, and ultimately a customer. In a previous blog, we discussed that the marketing and sales department often misunderstand each other. Terminology and agreements are not well established. What steps should marketing take before a lead is sent to sales and what should sales do if they discover that a lead is not ready to make a purchase? Marketing and sales do not match each other, there is a gap. What is missing? An organisation focused on marketing, sales and intermediate leads, or: lead management?

What is lead management? 

Lead management closes the gap between marketing and sales. The process from prospect to lead, to marketing qualified lead (MQL), to sales qualified lead (SQL) and ultimately to a customer: all these steps fall under lead management. Especially in B2B marketing, it is important to define and understand lead management, both in the marketing and the sales department, in order to ultimately achieve a higher turnover. Where previously a clear division was made between the marketing and sales department when it comes to the different stages of a contract, there is now an overlap. This becomes clear in the picture below. Prospects, leads and MQLs were the responsibility of marketing in the past. SQLs, opportunities and customers who like sales. Prospects and leads remain the responsibility of marketing and the opportunities and customers remain that of sales. What has changed is in between, namely the MQLs and the SQLs. The teams must work together to lead the lead through these two stages of the pyramid. 

There are four steps that can be taken for the successful execution of lead management: closing the gap between marketing and sales. 

1. Defining leads 

Defining leads is more than just a line of text. It concerns the requirements and characteristics that both departments think that a lead must have. This is recorded in an SLA (service level agreement). What does the marketing department think when they hear ‘lead’? And where does the sales department feel that this lead must comply before it is forwarded to sales from marketing? What is the difference between an MQL and an SQL? But also, how many leads are needed to achieve the revenue goal set? 

2. Feeding leads 

In a good streamlined organization, where marketing and sales work well together, marketing has to find all the leads for the very best and pass them on to the sales team. In most organizations, this is only a small percentage of the total number of leads. That is why it is important to continue to supplement the database contacts that your organization works with while feeding the leads. Leads that are not yet ready to purchase a product or service can be ‘nurtured’ with content. By offering the right content at the right time, you help to take the lead one step further in the Buyer Journey and thus bring it closer to a purchase. Lead nurturing provides an interesting, relevant dialogue with the lead, based on their needs and interests. 

3. Lead scoring 

To determine which lead a potential customer is, leads can be assigned a score. Lead scoring offers a clear insight into the leads that are qualified. Think of demographic factors, but also the company and the function within that company. For example, if your lead is resident in Belgium and you focus on the Dutch market, this lead will receive a lower score than a lead from the Netherlands. Not only these factors are included in lead scoring. It also matters how often someone has looked at your website, what this person has done there and whether he has already given signs of interest, for example by downloading an e-book. Lead scoring has a double purpose: firstly, it prevents it from being ‘bothered’ by salespeople without being ready to make a purchase. In addition, the sales team obviously works much more efficiently when they receive leads from marketing that are ready to make a purchase. It is also important for lead scoring that marketing and sales work together. Together they have to agree on which score the lead is forwarded to sales. 

4. Lead management software 

Manage lead scoring manually is fine if you are working in a start-up or in a small company with not many customers. This is much more difficult for companies with many customers. A lead’s activity changes every day, including his score. To keep track of this, to manage and measure in an effective and efficient way, different marketing automation tools have been developed. Hubspot is one of them here. Within Hubspot, there are various possibilities, including a specific ‘department’ for lead management.

A lead scoring system ensures that it is a lesser guess which leads are qualified and which are not. In a program like Hubspot, it is made possible to assign certain characteristics or actions a score. As soon as a lead performs a certain action, for example downloading an ebook, this lead is automatically assigned points. You can also set alerts for when a lead has achieved the score to be forwarded to sales. Read more about marketing automation within our next blog. 

Measurable and accountable

The first step of lead management is the establishment of an SLA (service level agreement). Marketing and sales do this together. But not only in advance, also during and after the above steps must be discussed between the two departments. It is very important to have a follow-up discussion. Have the set goals been achieved? Is both the marketing and the sales department satisfied with the result? In other words: the actions made must be made measurable and accountable. Do you want to know how to make your marketing measurable and accountable? Contact us to know more!