As we reach mid-year many B2B Sales Leaders are looking at their sales pipelines and starting to realize their year is in jeopardy! The executive team is possibly even beginning to speculate where the issues lie; is it poor sales leadership, lazy sales people, problems with the product/services portfolio, or uncompetitive pricing? It’s possible that all of these factors may be having some impact on your sales numbers.
But it’s also very likely that the inadequate sales are a result of sales people wasting valuable selling time on non-qualified prospects. You may be thinking to yourself how can that be, we have a marketing team that is feeding them a stream of leads and the proposal organization says they don’t have enough resources to get the proposals out in a timely fashion. Before you turn your attention back to the sales team consider these two startling facts according to the MarketingSherpa 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report.
68% of companies surveyed stated they don’t have a defined Marketing- Sales funnel process and 61% of them said they send every lead directly to sales.
Three Reasons To Define a Sales Funnel Process and Qualification Criteria
1. Without an established funnel process it’s nearly impossible to map out the process the buyer goes through as they progress through their buy cycle. Without a map of the buy cycle it’s nearly impossible to nurture leads.
2. Without a defined funnel process it’s also very unlikely that you have agreement between sales and marketing on what a qualified lead looks like. This leaves lead qualification in the hands of the sales reps and they will do everything possible to fill their sales pipeline with any and all opportunities.
3. The problem with this approach is that every sales person has their own definition of what “qualified” means. This results in sales pipeline full of poorly qualified opportunities whose decision timelines slip or worse go to no decision.
Two key actions you can take today to reduce these problems are to define your perfect prospect and develop a mutual agreement between sales and marketing on the definition of a lead. Both of these actions can be easily accomplished fairly quickly but only if the entire sales and marketing teams participate.
1. Determining your perfect prospect is easy, look at your best customer relationship, they are good for a reason, discover what it is.
2. Building a definition of a qualified lead is a little more difficult. The first step is to bring sales and marketing together – and using an outside facilitator can often help as they have no vested interest one way or the other. The team should outline all the key criteria’s that must be meet to pass the qualification test. It’s important that every sales person participates and be in total agreement on the definition, without total buy in the process won’t work. The new definition needs to be published to continually reinforce it with every person involved in lead generation or selling.
Stop wasting valuable rep selling time on poorly qualified prospects. Take the time to define and build a sales funnel that won’t leak and focus your sales talent on high probability sales prospects, the results will speak for themselves!