The definition of what a lead is presents challenges more critical than we realize. Most marketers today are very targeted in their lead generation efforts, and more diligent than ever in obtaining as much intelligence on prospects as possible, following the practice of delivering their sales teams leads that meet criteria that indicate the potential of converting to a customer.
However: Sales may view this entirely different. They receive leads with a preconception that they are 'sale ready'. So of course marketing hears the age old 'we have no good leads', or 'the leads we received are all useless'.
Sales vs. Marketing
This disconnect between the two groups carries enormous frustration for both sides. Your lead generation programs are designed to bring in leads - with the ultimate goal of conversion, but an immediate sale is not always the case. And in B2B many sales cycles are long - some longer than others, coupled with a variety of other factors that hinder the sales process. This is true for lead generation that focuses on annuities, mortgages, insurance, or any other product or service.
With that said - often those sales leads are viable; they are just not converting to an immediate sale - creating dissatisfaction for sales professionals that are striving to meet important sales projections. 'Lead' by definition carries many translations: suspect, prospect, opportunity, etc., and how these are viewed and handled is contingent upon a variety of factors including your organization agreeing on the terminology, program flow, and expectations.
Without this, your organization's departments are not in tune with one another, as each may have different definitions, and expectations.
So what is the solution?
A starting point would be to outline those areas that need definition, applying a process, and communicating guidelines as standard practice across the organization. This not only creates clarity, but will greatly improve cross-communication efforts, and create cohesive direction for marketing and sales to work together.
For more information on how to foster better quality leads and get your marketing and sales departments to see eye-to-eye, visit our guides, "Generating More Quality Leads" and "Develping Great leads and Prospects."