lead pipelineNothing can create a more heated debate between sales and marketing then the discussion of “leads.”  It starts because the first question every sales rep asks after they find out how their compensation package is structured is “where are my leads?”  It continues with marketing talking about all of the activities they are doing to generate “leads.” It gets ugly when management wants to cost justify the marketing expense to the sales pipeline development.

At this point sales points the finger at marketing exclaiming the leads are crap.”  Then marketing points the finger at sales and whines sales doesn’t follow up on the leads in a timely fashion.  Management just wants to control expense and manage to a predictable revenue expectation.  …All of this heartache because everyone forgot (or chose to ignore) the fundamentals of marketing-to-sales pipeline development.

If there was a college course on this, the syllabus for Marketing-To-Sales Pipeline Development 101 would be:

  • Marketing-to-sale waterfall: Suspect, Prospect, Lead, Opportunity, Customer
  • Good versus bad leads and everything in between
  • Quantity versus quality and the age old tradeoffs
  • High touch, low touch or no touch viability for your business
  • Campaigns versus activities
  • Analytics and real-time dashboards

The theory versus reality of this conversation is what usually gets everyone in the most turmoil.  Those who have done it effectively know that it isn’t always the logical thing that works and those who have never done it always have an opinion on what could happen if things were done their way.  Since I haven’t seen a viable course on this subject marrying practical experience with situational theory, I think the next few blogs will be dedicated to each of these subjects.