Does your B2B sales team complain that the marketing leads are cold, dead fish? Is Marketing frustrated that leads seem to disappear in a black hole? One of the liveliest discussions among b-to-b sales and marketing teams is how leads are going to be efficiently and effectively managed. In this article, you will learn how to create a b-to-b lead management agreement.
“What we got here is failure to communicate.” That line, uttered by The Captain in “Cool Hand Luke,” sums up the reason most sales and marketing groups are not happy with the lead management process. The sales organization, for example, often has its own view of what constitutes a qualified marketing lead, and it doesn’t always match the marketing team’s definition.
Let’s walk through a simple way to frame up the dialogue you will have with your sales or marketing counterpart. Take a moment to download the framework in an Excel worksheet format.
Step 1: Agree on the Stages
Advisory firm SiriusDecisions introduced the widely adopted b-to-b Demand Waterfall® in 2006. It defines a framework for the way in which leads progress through a number of customer acquisition stages, from demand generation to closed business. The Excel worksheet illustrates how to get started by using their terminology.
You can edit the stages to reflect your company’s customer acquisition model, in number and in name. However, in my experience, theirs is a proven, practical approach.
Step 2: Agree on the Criteria
In each of the customer acquisition stages, what are the important criteria you need to evaluate? If a sales development team contacts potential marketing qualified leads (MQLs), for example, they may evaluate the lead’s industry segment, the authority (job role or title) of the lead, their needs, source of urgency, and timeframe.
Step 3: Agree on the Attributes
For each criterion, define the relevant attributes. Attributes can be qualitative and/or quantitative. “Needs” might be qualitative, such as the clarity with which the prospect articulates their problems/needs. On the other hand, the “timeframe” threshold may be “within 3-9 months.”
The second tab of the worksheet illustrates a format to define quantitative lead scoring attributes. These are often associated with automated lead nurturing campaigns. A website form submission earns 5 points, for example. An email click earns 2. A Facebook share gets 1. A phone conversation earns 10.
Step 4: Agree on Service Level Agreements
Once you gain consensus on the above, create a service level agreement (SLA) for both teams. This helps to hold both teams accountable for meeting their commitments.
By way of example, one SLA for marketing could be: “Marketing will use best efforts within its resources to generate an average of 100 MQLs each month.” And the sales team might commit to this: “Sales will accept or reject MQLs to / from their work-in-process pipeline within 14 days.”
Download the Sales-Marketing Alignment Worksheet. This Excel-based worksheet provides an easy to understand method to frame this sales and marketing alignment conversation and outlines how to create a b-to-b lead management agreement.
- Edit the worksheet to reflect your own “demand waterfall” stages
- Enter your corresponding criteria for each stage
- Replace the provided examples with your own criteria and service level agreements (SLAs) between sales and marketing
- Document quantitative lead scoring for both account profiles and contacts engagement measures