In my post earlier this week, I outlined the challenge presented by SiriusDecisions’ Demand Waterfall taxonomy, specifically with the phrase “Marketing-Qualified Leads” (MQLs). Another problematic phrase is “sales-accepted leads.”
Often, funnels leak the most during the handoff between sales and marketing. Invariably, marketing blames sales and sales blames marketing. A lack of clarity around the term “sales-accepted lead” is the real culprit.
Marketing doesn’t need sales to “accept” the leads. Marketing needs sales to confirm whether the lead met the Universal Lead Definition that was agreed to between sales and marketing. This is a yes/no answer. Sales people should be able to tell on the first sales call, whether by phone or in person, if the lead met the criteria they set with marketing. If the lead didn’t meet the criteria, then marketing needs to know why. There are usually just a handful of reasons.
Such feedback need not wait until the lead is converted to an opportunity weeks or maybe months later. Instead, marketing can take immediate actions to improve lead-qualification practices. And sales leadership can identify sales people who do not understand the agreed-upon criteria, which can lead to an improvement in the Universal Lead Definition.
That’s why I like the phrase “sales-validated leads.” That’s what sales should be doing: validating whether the lead is really a lead, per the definition agreed to by sales and marketing. For most marketing organizations, this small change in funnel focus can make a huge difference in plugging funnel leaks.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments. At MECLABS, we don’t want to “own” the funnel taxonomy. We want to create a new, universal language that is useful for everyone and share our knowledge freely. That objective is best accomplished through a community effort via social media. So please, share this post with other funnel mavens and share your opinion. Together, we can create a new, more useful set of funnel definitions.