Warning: Do Not Start a Lead-Generation Campaign without a Universal Lead Definition
Executing a lead-generation campaign without a universal lead definition wastes time, money and resources. If you are in sales or marketing and you don’t have a ULD (Universal Lead Definition), then you need to read this. But, don’t worry - you are not alone. According to the Marketing Sherpa 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, 61% of B2B marketers admit to sending “leads” directly to Sales without qualification.
The problem is without at ULD, most companies consider anyone who expresses interest in what they sell as a lead, when in reality it is just an inquiry. Big deal you say. Semantics. Well, our analysis shows that only about 20% of all inquiries are truly leads. If you send an inquiry to a sales person and call it a lead, your sales team will discard them - resulting in them and your company to miss the 80% of inquiries that will become sales qualified leads down the road. Instead of passing inquiries to sales as leads, you need to nurture them until they fit your ULD.
What is a Universal Lead Definition (ULD)?
Companies that aren’t asking this essential question of BOTH their marketing AND sales teams will find that they are producing poor ROI from their lead generation efforts. Miscommunication leads to missed revenue targets, wasted budget dollars and possibly more distrust between marketing and sales. A universal lead definition (ULD) clarifies what a lead is to everyone in your organization. It also:
- Defines and makes sure that your leads fit your ideal customer profile
- Qualifies that the lead is sales-ready, and what defines sales-ready
- Spells out the responsibilities and accountabilities of the sales and marketing teams
- Brings alignment to sales and marketing and makes them more efficient.
Six Steps to Creating a Universal Lead Definition
Brian Carroll, Author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, defines the following steps:
- Bring Sales and Marketing together for a meeting
Get ALL of those involved in new customer acquisition together in a room or a conference call. You’ll need a leader/facilitator who has the "street credibility” both groups respect. In addition, it’s best if you can have sponsorship of a top executive that can help drive the urgency through the team and help them understand that this is a key imperative to the success of their organization.
- Ask Sales the key questions:
For us to be 100% certain that when we send you a lead, you will act on it and provide feedback 100% of the time, what do you need to know? At what point do you consider a lead qualified? Now shut up and listen. Everybody must play.
- Confirm it again…and again…and again
Don't stop with just one meeting. Summarize the notes from your meeting and have another meeting to clarify and make sure everyone is satisfied with the definition. You’ll need a strong consensus as opposed to apathetic agreement
Publish the ULD everywhere that you can. The terms you use to rank and describe your leads must become part of your organization’s culture and shared language. Everyone must be on the same page.
Marketing and sales should meet often to review the ULD for accuracy. Don’t count on software to close the loop for you. It is best to do it as part of the regular sales meeting. Ask questions like: Was X a lead? Did they enter the sales process? Why or why not? What else would you like to have known about this lead? What else can we improve? What should we stop doing? What should we start doing?
- Edit and republish
The ULD is a living document, so it is not uncommon to see several revisions within the first few months of implementation.
Benefits of having a Universal Lead Definition
According to Carroll, setting and using this definition has proven to bring a 375% increase in sales-ready leads without an increase in spending. It also has helped the sales and marketing teams solve problems such as:
- Leads not being qualified or prioritized
- Leads not being nurtured
- Sales rejecting leads
- No accountability or handoff
The Bottom Line
There is no doubt that taking the time to develop a Universal Lead Definition for your sales and marketing teams is well worth the effort. The definition should be applied to every lead regardless of where it came from — whether teleprospecting, inbound marketing, webinars or elsewhere. It can used to develop lead scoring and set the standard for determining which leads should receive the highest priority and bring efficiency to the sales process. There really is no better way to bring sales and marketing together and eliminate the friction than developing a Universal Lead Definition.