How leads “misbehave”

How leads “misbehave”
J.T. McDonald

Jun 12, 2012 by J.T. McDonald

Those who deploy “best practices” lead management philosophies generally partition sales leads and prospects according to some qualification schema. These schemas are usually agreed upon between sales and marketing, and involve a beginning point of “Prospect” with an end point of “Sales Qualified Lead”. Along the way, we assume a logical and clinical progression from one stage to another. And once a record reaches “Sales Qualified” status, it’s passed on to the sales organization for vigorous pursuit (we hope).

What’s interesting is that a significant number of records don’t follow a logical progression. In fact, many lead records don’t follow the normal progression at all. They completely misbehave! Consider a couple of examples:

  • A “Well Qualified Prospect” comes into your lead management world. They’re contacted by your in-house qualification staff, but they say they don’t have any intention to purchase your products (because they just want you off the phone – it happens!). So, they’re “disqualified”. However, 45 days later the same person visits your website inquiring about your products. Your system needs to be able to “rescue” this record from the junk heap, and give it new life as a “Marketing Qualified” lead for further contact and consideration.
  • A lead goes to a “Request A Quote” form on your website. They state that they’re ready to purchase now. You pass them immediately on to your sales organization to close the sale. This lead never followed a progression – they went right to the end game!

There are numerous scenarios where leads don’t follow a normal life cycle. This doesn’t imply that you should give up on establishing a lead progression, or that your qualification statuses are meaningless. It simply means that you need to have a system that can accommodate these wayward progressions, and you (and your sales organization) may have to occasionally live with some ambiguity.