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Click? Check.  Conversion? Check. Qualification? Oh, boy…

While acquiring a click and conversion are the marketer’s responsibility, it’s very rare for the same person to pick up the phone and try to qualify the prospect. For SEMs, letting go is both a blessing and a curse. While it’s nice to know one’s work is done, handing off a lead for someone else to work with can be challenging. SEMs like control, but there’s no alternative here. The lead is no longer yours.

The best way for B2B marketers to exert some level of control over this process is to start by getting familiar with it. Talk to your lead-qual team and find out what they’re doing with your leads. While this might be viewed as meddling to some, it’s an important step in what is supposed to be a collaborative effort. Relay runners spend as much time practicing their baton passes as the actual running (ok, maybe not just as much, but you get the point). One team helps the other figure out what they can/can’t do, what they prefer, and ultimately, what can make the most seamless transition and increase the overall likelihood of success.

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In a nutshell, it’s about communication. Do you know how long it takes for a lead-qual rep to get back to a new lead? Do you know the little things that help them prioritize what order to call those leads? It might sound like slacking to see a rep wait two days to call a prospect back, but what if the offer that drove the lead has been proven to be a bust? Sure, it might look great in AdWords, but understand this: sales teams don’t care. Volume is great, but poor quality ruins everyone’s fun. Creating a tight feedback loop helps both teams.

It might not be an SEM’s job to make the calls to prospects, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to shadow a few. Observing a rep’s routine not only forces interaction between both teams (camaraderie is a good thing), but it might reveal a thing or two. As the person driving the lead, you should be familiar with all of the information being collected and passed through, but do you know how it’s represented to the reps who handle the leads? Valuable information can become useless if it’s not presented in the right way.

The SalesForce app for AdWords is (not much longer as it’s being retired) notorious for clustering all the valuable bits of info one needs in a second page, away from a contact’s primary info. The information was making it through, but taking five minutes to watch a rep trying to access it makes it immediately obvious that having to click through a second page complicates things and can frustrate team members. When you’re processing 100+ leads a day, do you really want to click into another page to get to the most valuable info about the origin of your prospect? SFDC app aside, organizing parameters in your CRM should be addressed early. Remember, we’re going for seamless here.

How the data is being used to important to understand. Are reps just throwing out details that might freak out a lead? This is especially important for information that is gathered passively. While there’s an understanding by prospects that sales teams must get their info from somewhere, one can still try to use a delicate touch. Not everyone likes to be reminded of what KWs they searched for or what device they were on when they downloaded content. Much of this information should be directional for lead qual. You don’t need to remind someone they searched for “cheap software because I’m a cheapskate” (I exaggerate) when you talk to them. Just focus on price; they’ll get what you’re selling.

Active involvement in lead qualification is recommended, but it’s important not to be too intrusive. As most know, micro-management can be demoralizing. Providing feedback is valuable, but constant pestering is counter-productive. Remember that things run both ways – you could very well be the source of bad leads and sabotaging your team. Just as you might be driving the best leads, you may also be getting bailed out by creative sales reps who know how to turn garbage into gold. Talk to each other, learn from each other, and close some deals.

Sean Marshall, Director of Search Engine Marketing

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Sean Marshall
Sean Marshall is the CEO of Intended, an SEM agency founded in 2013 to provide industry-best service for SMB clients. Before Intended, Sean was the VP of Business Development of PPC Associates (now 3Q Digital). He is a huge Cal fan and has been known to win a buck or two playing online poker.