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When Should Marketing Hand Leads Off to Sales?


You’ve recently upgraded your website to utilize a marketing automation (MA) system such as HubSpot, Pardot or Marketo. Your marketing team is now able to gather some great insight into your contacts, including how they found you, what topics interest them and what types of content they are engaging with. In addition to giving you the data you need to determine which marketing efforts are having the biggest impact, your MA system can also make the handoff of leads from marketing to sales seamless.

How can you be sure you’re handing the right leads to your sales team? Here are a few key factors to consider.

Determine Your Ideal Prospect

Sales and marketing teams rely on each other for success—and one of the areas they should be aligned on is the ideal prospect. Developing buyer personas upfront (semi-fictional representations of your ideal prospects) that include customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals, helps marketers target their efforts to attract the right prospects for the sales team. Marketing and sales should discuss what the challenges and pain points are that these prospects are facing so you can ensure your site content and marketing efforts are communicating that you can help solve these.

Once you have a better understanding of your ideal prospects, you’ll want to determine what makes a lead “qualified” by the sales team. As your marketing efforts bring in new leads, you’ll want to respond to them appropriately and determine what the next steps are for that new contact.

Define Lead Stages

As new leads are added to your MA system from your efforts, you can determine if a lead is ready for immediate sales handoff (a sales qualified lead or SQL e.g., they’ve completed a Request a Quote form) or if they should be entered into a workflow to nurture them further to determine if they are a good fit (marketing qualified lead or MQL i.e., they fit one of your personas, you’ve provided solutions for a similar company, etc.). Sales and marketing teams should work together to define lead stages so that:

  • You can clearly communicate with each other about where a particular lead is at
  • Each lead can be communicated with most effectively

Leads can be nurtured based on the specific persona they fit—which can be based on their contact properties (e.g., company size, job title) or on the actions they’ve taken on your site (e.g., downloading a case study, watching a video). An effective B2B lead nurturing strategy should continue the conversation with that prospect, providing them with additional relevant information and allowing them the opportunity to contact you directly when they are ready. Once you’ve determined the nurtured lead is ready for handoff to sales, you can provide valuable information to the sales team about what the lead has engaged with so they are better acquainted with the prospect and their interests when they reach out.

Repeat, Review and Refine

Your new contacts are now being categorized into the appropriate lead stage as they come in and are being handed off to sales at what you’ve determined to be the best time—this is a great start! To ensure the process works, you’ll want to consistently gather feedback from the sales team on the status of the leads they’ve been sent. Make sure they are adding notes or comments in the customer relationship management (CRM) system and updating lead statuses when necessary. Meet regularly to review and discuss recent leads, fix any glitches in the process and check in on buyer personas to see if any aspects have changed. Leading up to the meeting, review the data in your MA system to see if there are areas in your workflows that should be discussed or adjusted. This can also be a great time to review any notes or comments that the sales team has entered into the CRM that might not be clear—ensuring that everyone understands how to use the tool, understands the definitions and is following the process you’ve outlined will help both teams have ongoing visibility into how this process is performing.

A successful lead handoff between marketing and sales can lead to increased revenue and faster growth. These tips can get you started. To learn more, contact us today.

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Carol Yachanin
Posted by
Carol Yachanin on Thu, Jan 23, 2020 @ 09:00


Topics: Lead Nurturing