Every CEO knows that without prosperous sales and marketing alignment, their company is sunk. However, all the team meetings and service-level agreements (SLAs) held between the Sales VP and the Marketing VP will be for naught if they’re not tracking the proper metrics. In this case, there is one marketing metric that outlines specifically just how aligned sales and marketing really are:
The Lead Aging report.
What is the process for handing off leads?
In many companies, marketing is primarily responsible for generating leads (along with the outbound prospecting team or the channel team, but we digress). Meanwhile, it is the sales team’s job to take these leads generated by marketing, convert them into opportunities and then work on closing the deal. This seems like a fairly simple process, with a clear division of labor…right?
Well, not so fast. Oftentimes, confusion may arise in the lead-handoff process, resulting in inefficiencies that see potentially valuable leads slip through the cracks before they can be worked on and converted. This scenario naturally leads to finger-pointing: marketing laments the fact that sales is wasting their hard-earned leads. Meanwhile, sales might retort by saying that marketing is not handing these leads off correctly, or even worse, decry the quality or fit of the leads themselves. That is a direct affront to the Marketing VP.
What does the Lead Aging report answer?
This marketing metric helps Marketing VPs answer two important questions:
“Which leads haven’t had activity in the last X days and thus need follow-up?”
“How well is our team doing with follow-up?”
The first question is a matter of oversight and accountability. The Marketing VP, viewing this report, might notice that some strong leads haven’t yet seen any activity from sales. They can then pass that message onto the appropriate person on the sales team and push for some activity, lest they waste this potentially valuable lead.
The second question is the more interesting one. It speaks directly to the SLA and the level of sales and marketing alignment that this company has achieved. There are certain expectations that each party has regarding leads:
Sales expects a steady stream of incoming leads
Sales expects leads to be of a reasonably high quality, matching the company’s ideal customer profile in some way
Marketing expects the leads to transition smoothly from them to sales
Marketing expects the leads to be worked on promptly and regularly
Ken Krogue of InsideSales.com notes that many sales organizations are responding to leads too slowly, essentially wasting them. His research noted how critical it was for leads to be followed up with quickly, and then receive regular activity or engagement as needed.
Look at the above chart again. Imagine being in the shoes of a Marketing VP and seeing more than 2,000 leads their team generated receiving no activity for more than 4 months! What is going on?? Are these valuable leads that simply need some tender loving attention from your sales reps? Are they leads that have been disqualified and should be removed from their Salesforce.com dashboard? Who is dropping the ball here?
Sales VPs can also use this report to drill down into buckets of leads, based on their last activity i.e sorting by leads that have received no activity for a month and comparing those to leads that have received no activity in more than a month. They can find out which specific leads need attention and refer their reps to prioritize them and work on those.
The Lead Aging report is a valuable tool for both sales and marketing. The VPs of each team can use this marketing metric to optimize their lead handoff process, help reps prioritize the right leads to work on, and generally improve sales and marketing alignment.