One of the most common complaints about inbound marketing is the surplus of unqualified prospects that get entered into the sales queue. If you are a quota-bearing account executive who is getting inundated with leads like the below, you are unlikely to continue following up with each one. And this helps explain why a comprehensive HBR study concluded that over 71% of qualified inbound leads never get contacted, and the average lead only gets called 1.3 times.
So what’s the solution? The trendy fix in recent years has been to hire an inexperienced employee or newcomer to your industry as a sales development rep (SDR) to screen inbound leads. Someone who doesn’t carry a revenue-driven quota, but rather focuses strictly on qualifying inbound leads and then scheduling appointments for the ones that fit pre-determined criteria with a sales rep.
This approach works well if you are unable to reject unqualified prospects from entering your sales and marketing funnel automatically, and therefore require a human screening. Sales reps are seemingly freed up from the chore of screening leads, all inbound leads get responded to quickly with the right cadence, and everything seems fixed! Until ...
It finally happens. After weeks of combing through low to moderate quality prospects, the above notification appears in your inbox. What now?
If your sales organization is like most, all inbound leads -- regardless of quality -- are automatically routed to an SDR for qualification and appointment setting. That means the CMO of Facebook will get the same treatment as all of the other lackluster, potentially spam leads and receive six calls and six emails from an SDR with relatively minimal sales experience.
Why? Why do we continue to allow our best inbound prospects to have their first human interaction with our company with the most junior member of our sales team?
It’s time to stop this practice ASAP. Instead, sales teams should employ a lead prioritization and routing model that allows inbound leads to be segmented by quality, and then receive different levels of treatment accordingly. If you are selling to marketing executives in technology, the CMO of Facebook is an extremely high-value lead for your organization. Having your VP of Sales reach out to Gary as the first point of contact not only makes a lot more business sense, but also allows them to start building a strong relationship from the get go. In addition, it creates a human selling moment -- getting a call from the VP of Sales within a few minutes of downloading a piece of content, requesting a demo, or taking some other inbound action inherently creates a one-on-one experience that can increase the likelihood of closing a deal.
You may be thinking “that’s easy to say when you are talking about the CMO of Facebook.” But at scale, which prospects should I allow to go through the standard SDR process, and which ones are worth sending directly to my sales team? Should it only be those prospects who request a demo, or should I go up the funnel to a whitepaper download for the right fit?
Stay tuned for our next post to learn more on how to draw the line using predictive analytics and data.
Originally published Feb 16, 2016 7:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017