A key element that is often overlooked in an inbound program is the transition from marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads (otherwise called sales ready leads). Keep this in mind, on average marketing qualified leads will visit your website five to seven times, consuming different pieces of content, before they are ready to have the initial conversation with a sales counselor. For companies without a content-centric mentality, or who have been misguided in what a true automated lead nurturing workflow should look like, the initial reaction to a lead who leaves their information (an email) with you is “Shouldn’t someone reach out to them and start a conversation?” Unfortunately, reaching out prematurely can cause hesitation and anxiety on the customer’s part, when they were simply just trying to educate themselves as they started the process.
Timing of Transferring Inbound Marketing Leads to Sales
Something else to consider is that when the volume of leads significantly increases with digital strategies, sales time needs to be protected and spent working with those ready to advance their conversations. Introducing too many leads that are not yet ready to talk to a sales person puts lead quality in question, and can encourage sales reps to think that website leads are bottom on the priority list “because they don’t convert”. It can also cause an overwhelming sense of not being able to keep up, as databases climb to unmanageable numbers at a very quick pace. This is one of the key reasons that your marketing automation platform should be the data base that houses your marketing leads, and with closed-loop integration, those leads should only become visible to sales in their CRM once an interest is expressed to speak with a sales person.
To better understand when the transfer of a lead to the sales rep is appropriate, understanding permission based marketing is key. Permission based marketing is the practice of sending marketing communications only to recipients who have given their consent to receive them. For example, a visitor to your website gives you their email address in exchange for a piece of content on your website. Implicitly, they have expressed an interest in receiving information from your organization. In turn, sales should speak to inbound leads at the time where they express a direct interest to do so or when lead scoring indicates that this person is likely ready to speak with a sales person. Lead scoring is a calculation that identifies (based on customer interactions with certain kinds of contact), when a customer might be most likely to respond positively to a salesperson that calls to introduce themselves, without the customer having filled out a contact us form on your site.