In our current series of blog posts, we have been addressing the 9 stages in the Lead Management Process. Once again, they are:
- Initial inquiry
- Initial qualification
- Lead nurturing
- Marketing qualified lead (MQL)
- MQL distribution to sales
- Sales-accepted lead (SAL)
- Sales-qualified lead (SQL)
As noted in our last post, once the initial qualification has been taken care of, Marketing can make a determination about whether or not the prospect meets any of the criteria to warrant including him/her in the lead nurturing process.
Lead nurturing is the process of regularly engaging with a prospect over time to promote dialogue through trigger-driven content and offers. This does not mean simply blasting emails at a list of names. Neither should we be sending a list of names to the sales team and asking them to call them all.
The most effective lead nurturing program is accomplished with marketing automation. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a great comparison of the many marketing automation solutions available today: https://www.g2crowd.com/categories/marketing-automation.
The ultimate goal of lead nurturing is to precipitate a conversation with a sales person. The immediate result we’re looking for is a Marketing-Qualified Lead (MQL.) Based on our ongoing dialogue with this prospect, how and when do we determine that he/she is sufficiently valid (or has reached a sufficient lead score) to be considered marketing-qualified and ready for a sales person to take action? This is where it becomes very evident whether or not Marketing is in synch – in alignment – with Sales. Because now we’re handing off the lead to Sales and telling them to run with it.
This is the point at which the sales person reviews the MQL information and either rejects the lead as invalid (and provides a reason) or accepts it as a valid lead. In the first instance, the lead will be returned to the nurturing process. In the second, the sales person takes ownership of the lead, at which point it enters into the sales funnel. Which brings us to the 6th stage of the lead management process, with the lead now designated as a Sales-accepted Lead, or SAL.
Catch our next blog to see what happens after that!