Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the blog of LeadFormix, part of the family of CallidusCloud’s companies. It was penned by Tim Duranleau with considerable help from Poornima Mohandas, and everything they argued earlier this year is true today – perhaps even more so. As businesses struggle to wring productivity from their sales teams, two objectives make a lead qualification team ever more important. First, sales needs to spend more time selling – engaging in the work they’re best at doing and which puts more revenue in the company’s account (and in their pockets). Second, it’s critical that sales spends its time working on the right deals at the right times and not on qualifying leads (or, really, any other tasks that marketing ought to be doing anyway).

Lead qualification teams are understood to be major assets – but, even so, most companies don’t have them. I’ll let Tim and Poornima take it from here…

61% of companies still don’t have a lead qualification team, says the MarketingSherpa 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report. These companies pass leads from marketing to sales without lead qualification.lead-qualification

A lead qualification/teleprospecting team consists of people with access to phone resources and your CRM systems. They have to reach out to all leads that reach a threshold score in addition to attending to all prospects who make a website inquiry. Their task is to convert leads into opportunities ready for handoff.
Here are seven critical reasons why you need to set up a lead qualification team as soon as possible.

1. The Human Connection

Telemarketing folks are often perceived as annoying but they do have their place. SiriusDecisions says, “Telequalification is more important than ever,” as they inserted teleprospecting as a layer between marketing and sales in their proprietary Demand Waterfall model.

Telequalification folks bring in the human connection between your anonymous visitors and your company in an environment where customers complete 70 percent of the buyer journey without so much as talking to a sales rep. Teleprospecting is a golden opportunity to create a positive impression. Also, a prospect who is stressed from a business problem may be more than happy to talk to a human rep who promises a solution.

2. Better Data and Better Prioritization of Leads

This human team can help gather superior data on your leads that no software can. They can weed out researchers and other non-leads. They will also be more diligent filling in lead information into your CRM systems than your sales team.

  • Your lead qualification team can gather insight on the following:
  • Does the lead fit your typical customer profile?
  • What stage of buying is he in?
  • Is he in talks with competitors?
  • What is the decision-making process in his company?
  • How many people are involved in the decision-making process?
  • Is there sufficient budget in this quarter?

Better data helps categorize and thereby prioritize leads. We recommend teams categorize leads into four buckets:

  • Abandon
  • Return to marketing for lead nurturing
  • Book an appointment with a sales rep (in the case of a hot lead)
  • Hand over to sales for follow up

3. Faster Follow Up

Clear prioritization of leads into those four buckets makes the next steps much easier and follow up can be fast and efficient. A dedicated lead qualification team can also deliver quick turnaround on all website inquiries, which is essential to move these prospects down the funnel. A Harvard Business Reviewstudy showed that a company that responds to a website query in an hour is seven times more likely to qualify the lead than a company that responds after an hour.

4. Fewer Sales Hours Wasted

Everyone will agree that highly-paid sales reps’ hours are precious and should be spent on closing deals. With a lead qualification team in place, sales needn’t:

  • Waste time talking to a non-lead.
  • Waste time with a prospect who needs nurturing.
  • Confirm form data.
  • Gather basic information.

Let sales people do what they do best – sell.

5. Shrinks the Sales Cycle

Sales people will talk to opportunities that are ready to take a demo. These opportunities have the budget and the authority to make a purchase decision. Sales can therefore focus on closing the deal. Conversations will also be much richer with enriched CRM systems thanks to – you guessed it – the lead qualification team. All this can help shorten the sales cycle and dramatically increase conversion.

6. Improves Sales and Marketing Alignment

When sales gets qualified leads that are “very interested” and are “likely to convert” there will be less brickbats exchanged with marketing. The age-old complaint that marketing provides leads that are “not ready to buy” may soon become a thing of the past. Of course, lead qualification is just one among many things you can do to make sales and marketing work as a team.

7. Improves Tracking and Metrics

Expect enhanced visibility on leads and their progress down the funnel. What’s more, your CRM systems will be rich with data. Enhanced data and visibility will greatly improve tracking and metrics. Add a marketing automation platform and you get a very powerful tool to track, manage and convert your leads.

Of course, you’ll need to equip your lead qualification team with the right tools so they can do their jobs. Check out CallidusCloud’s marketing automation approach to see how we help organize the acquisition and management of leads.

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