How to set up a lead disposition process


In our recent post we explained lead disposition, or the rules that govern how sales moves a sales qualified lead (SQL) to an opportunity, disqualifies it as inappropriate, or returns it to marketing for further nurture. We also discussed why a proper lead disposition process plays a key role in data management, sales and marketing alignment, and, ultimately, revenue generation.

Now let’s go over the basics of setting up a lead disposition process and how to clear common obstacles along the way.

Setting up a lead disposition process

For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that you and your team see the benefits of lead disposition and want to implement it at your company. Where do you start?

According to Insightly’s CMO, Tony Kavanagh, a logical first step involves aligning sales and marketing around a shared set of definitions and processes.

Agree on definitions

The following terminology must be collectively defined by marketing and sales operations and understood and agreed to by everyone in marketing and sales.

  • Prospect: anyone in your database who has ever expressed a basic level of interest in your product or service
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs): prospects whose activity indicates that they are more likely to become customers based on prospect scoring (as compared to other prospects)
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs): MQLs that have been reviewed and passed to sales for follow-up
  • Opportunities: Converted SQLs who have expressed a willingness and ability to buy

Agree on the ground rules

Once basic terminology has been defined, sale operations should provide marketing with a clear explanation of how leads will be managed from acceptance through disposition. A well-defined prospect scoring mechanism (see next section) should expedite the handoff from MQL to SQL. The goal should be for sales to accept leads as quickly as possible, thereby minimizing the amount of time that a lead sits in your CRM queue.

When it comes to disposing of SQLs, there are only four possible outcomes:

  1. SQL is converted to an opportunity
  2. SQL is not ready and is reverted to a prospect for further marketing
  3. SQL times out (i.e., after 30 days) and is reverted to a prospect for further marketing
  4. SQL is not a real lead and is completely deleted from the system (rare, but possible)

Regardless of the outcome, the need for sales and marketing alignment cannot be understated. Marketing depends on a continuous flow of feedback from sales to understand why certain leads were converted, deleted, or reverted. Sales depends on marketing to effectively nurture converted and reverted leads so that the pipeline never dries up.

Lead disposition, when done correctly, elevates sales and marketing alignment by necessity.

Build, refine, and align your infrastructure

Clearly defined terminology and rules make it easier to identify technology and automated workflows that enable effective lead disposition. At a minimum, you’ll need:

  • Prospect scoring and grading mechanism that leverages activity data (such as website interactions and email engagement) and aligns with the buyer journey from visitor to lead
  • Comprehensive nurture programs that complement your lead disposition rules
  • Shared set of reports and business intelligence dashboards that reflect the buyer journey and include performance and profitability data by customer segment
  • Tightly coupled CRM and marketing systems (or, better yet, an all-in-one system or a unified platform, that provides a single source of truth)

Of these four elements, ensuring CRM and marketing system alignment might be the most important to tackle first. After all, it’s hard to align teams around a common objective when data is spread across multiple data silos.

“When marketing and sales applications are disparate systems sitting on separate databases, failure to implement robust lead disposition process rules is forgiven, as implementation is difficult,” says Tony. “Neither marketing nor sales are willing to step up and own the process, and both sides can hide behind the artificial walls that separately-implemented technologies create.”

Don’t waste your lead acquisition efforts

As you think about a lead disposition process at your company, consider all the efforts that go into lead acquisition. Regardless of their size, industry, geographic location, or product/service category, all businesses want more leads that convert to customers. You spend a lot of time strategizing how to create awareness with larger audiences, engage them with compelling content, and turn anonymous visitors into leads.

Lead generation is hard work

Building a conversion-friendly website is an art. Creating high-impact content requires a unique blend of writing talent and SEO knowledge. Designing click-worthy banners and social graphics is an iterative process that involves multiple stakeholders.

Lead acquisition costs money

Pay-per-click advertising provides an excellent way to reach a large number of potential customers at scale. Unfortunately, paying per click can get expensive—especially in highly competitive markets. Some companies pay as much as $25 per click in order to drive consistent traffic to their websites. Assuming even an optimistic visitor-to-lead conversion rate of 5%, you’re looking at a cost per lead of $500. Leads are expensive to acquire, and it only gets worse with new market entrants.

Gain clarity with lead disposition

Your sales team is looking for higher quality leads with less clutter. Marketing wants transparency into why some leads convert and others do not. The best way to keep both teams happy is through lead disposition.

Challenge your staff to stop thinking of your lead queue as a final destination. Leads either become your customers, or they don’t. It’s time to build systems and processes that support this mentality. Your sales reps, marketers, and customers will thank you.

Looking for ways to align sales and marketing and make the most out of every lead? Connect with one of our reps to see Insightly’s unified platform at work.


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