‘Tis the season of giving. This year, as you create your list of gifts for family and friends, we encourage you to add one more name to the list — your sales team. We’re not suggesting you go out and brace the holiday shopping frenzy to get them the latest tech gadgets or fashion must-haves (although who could refuse that?). It turns out, the best gift of all that you can give your sales team is the gift of qualified leads.

The Lead Hand Off Often Leaves a Lot to be Desired

What happens once your marketing team surfaces leads? Ideally, you pass them off to your sales team in the hopes that they’ll close the deal and successfully convert those leads into customers. But in reality, this process isn’t that simple, and in many businesses it leaves a lot to be desired.

For example, how do you know when leads are ready to be passed off to sales? And once you do determine that they’re ready, how do you prioritize them for your sales team? Finally, how do you assign leads to salespeople and alert them of those activities? Often times, businesses lack formal processes in these areas, which can not only result in missed opportunities as leads fall through the cracks, but can also end with marketing passing on leads who are not quite ready yet.

Enter Lead Scoring and Marketing Automation

Fortunately, there is a solution to this common problem: Introducing a formal lead scoring process and automating lead assignments and alerts with a marketing automation solution.

Put very simply, lead scoring is the process of measuring leads’ interest based on their behaviors. It assigns a “score” to each lead based on demonstrated interest and lead quality. Once a lead’s score passes a certain threshold, it’s ready to pass on to your sales team. These scores can also help you prioritize leads for your sales team.

A formal lead scoring model recognized by both your sales and marketing team combined with a marketing automation platform that can automatically assign and route leads to salespeople (and notify them of new assignments) can help solve the problems described above.

When Are Leads Ready for Sales?

If introducing a formal lead scoring process and ensuring marketing and sales are aligned on that process can help you ensure that all of the leads you pass to sales are qualified, that’s it right? Almost, but not quite.

We’re still left with one question: What’s required for a lead to become a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)? In other words, what is the threshold for passing leads to sales and what activities are required in order for leads to pass that threshold? To answer this question, you need to consider both behavior and role.

For behavior, you need to determine what behaviors you will measure and the importance of each one. In determining the importance of each behavior, consider qualitative measures like the amount of effort required (e.g. attending a live event vs. watching a webinar or filling out a form vs. clicking on a link) as well as quantitative measures based on historical data. Specifically, you should review your past data to see if you can pinpoint any patterns that suggest certain behaviors indicate someone is more likely to become a customer. If you can identify any such patterns, you’ll want to give those activities some extra weight in your scoring model.

For role, you need to consider the likelihood that someone will be able to make the final purchasing decision. It might be great that an associate demonstrates interest in your business, but it’s not likely that they’re in a purchasing position. That responsibility might fall to their manager or even their manager’s manager. Making these role distinctions is important in ensuring that the leads you pass off to salespeople have the right power to make any sales-driven conversations relevant and worthwhile.

Based on how you will score leads in these two areas, you can then determine a proper threshold for when a lead becomes a MQL and is ready for your sales team to step in.

Why Defining Your Threshold is the Best Gift You Can Give to Sales

Following the steps above to clearly define a threshold for when leads will become MQLs as well as what will help leads cross that threshold is the best gift you can give to your sales team this holiday season, or any other time of the year for that matter.

Why? The answer is two-fold: (1) Because it should be easier to close deals with these leads and (2) because they should be able to close those deals more efficiently. This is the case because you’ve not only confirmed that these are high quality leads who are the most likely to become customers, but also because you’ve clearly singled out those leads for your sales team, meaning they don’t have to dig through entire lists to find them.

Well that’s one name you can cross off your holiday gift list!