8 Criteria That Make Sales Accepted Leads Likely to Convert
Sales accepted leads (SALs) are leads that have been formally accepted by a company’s sales team. Lead acceptance typically starts the clock on the sales process, meaning sales teams must then decide if the lead is qualified and follow up in a timely manner.
But many companies don’t use sales accepted leads as part of their lead management process.
In many cases, it’s simply because they get overlooked between the two more commonly known and used phases of the lead funnel: marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs).
Here’s how SALs fit in:
There are many benefits to incorporating SALs into the lead management process. Primarily, SALs serve as an intermediary assessment that sales reps can use to assess the potential of leads before they move on to qualification.
In this post we’ll explore more about why SALs are important and 8 criteria that indicate they’re likely to convert to paying customers.
- Benefits to adding sales acceptance to the lead qualification process include more accountability, reduction of lost leads, and better marketing and sales alignment.
- The first indicator an SAL is likely to convert is a clear fit with your ideal customer profile.
- Leads that are likely to convert will show a strong awareness of their need for a solution and readiness to make a purchase in the near future.
- On the flip side, leads without the right budget or urgency to buy may need to revert back to a nurturing stage before they re-enter the sales process.
- Sales rejected leads should be recorded and evaluated periodically to identify gaps in the lead handoff process and improve marketing/sales alignment around lead qualification.
Why sales accepted leads are critical to lead management
Sales acceptance is one of the most overlooked steps in the lead management process. This is a big missed opportunity for many companies! A defined sales accepted leads strategy has several benefits that lead to more streamlined internal processes and stronger sales results.
Create accountability for timely follow-up
Lead acceptance puts a timestamp on the official start to the sales process. It holds marketing teams accountable for formally handing MQLs over to sales, and it holds sales teams accountable for being timely in their follow up. Over time, this process formality contributes to the next important benefit of SALs: reduction in lost leads.
Reduce the risk of lost leads
It’s commonly cited across the B2B sector that around 80% of marketing leads never convert into sales. 80 percent!
One of the reasons this happens is because undefined lead management strategies leave leads stuck in limbo between marketing and sales — often with both teams claiming that the other is handling it.
Adding sales acceptance as a step in your internal lead management process ensures there’s never a question around who is responsible for a particular lead and prevents leads from falling through the cracks.
Fosters better collaboration between marketing and sales
A recent LinkedIn survey found that 60% of respondents felt marketing and sales misalignment adversely impacted their financial performance. A sales acceptance step can mitigate this challenge by identifying alignment issues early on and creating a clear place in the process to address problems with the lead qualification process.
Service-level agreements (SLAs) are an effective and commonly used tool that helps accomplish this alignment goal. SLAs clearly define responsibilities and expectations for each team, outline lead qualification criteria, and put parameters in place around the process.
Using sales accepted leads as a tool for aligning marketing and sales teams can also have overarching organizational benefits, like more efficient use of resources, and joint ownership of success.
8 criteria that make sales accepted leads likely to convert
Knowing what makes for a high-potential lead has a twofold benefit: First, marketing teams are better able to recognize when leads are ready to be passed along to sales. Second, sales teams have better-defined criteria for recognizing high-potential leads that are likely to convert.
Let’s explore 8 criteria that indicate SALs are likely to convert into paying customers.
Clear fit with ideal customer profile
Your ideal customer profile (ICP) framework is valuable for developing your lead generation strategy and targeting the right potential customers, and it’s also an effective tool for evaluating leads once they enter the pipeline.
As they consider whether to accept a lead, one of the first questions your sales team should ask is whether the lead fits with your ICP. If they do, it’s more likely they’ll move smoothly through the rest of the sales process. If they don’t, you may encounter issues aligning solution plans with customer needs or getting a lead to see the real value in your offerings.
Imperfect fit with ICP shouldn’t be an automatic rejection criteria for leads in the pipeline, but it should be something that’s noted throughout the process and considered as your sales team prioritizes leads.
Strong awareness of need
One pitfall sales reps often fall into is too much time spent explaining to prospects why they need your solution in the first place. Leads are much more likely to convert when the potential customer already has a strong understanding of their need and how your solution can fill it.
Effective inbound marketing strategies go far in finding prospects who do have need awareness, but sales reps should still look for this criteria as part of their lead acceptance strategy (i.e. what steps has the lead already taken in their buyer journey to show they know their need?).
Similar to ICP fit, lack of need awareness isn’t grounds for rejecting a lead, but it is an important indicator of conversion potential.
Readiness to purchase
Leads are more likely to convert when they show specific behaviors that indicate intention to make a purchase. One clear indicator of readiness is online activity like trying to make price comparisons and reading buying guides. Lead tracking software solutions (like RevBoss!) are powerful tools for tracking prospects’ online behavior to assess their readiness to purchase.
Authority to make purchase decisions
Does the person or people you’re talking to have final authority to make a purchase decision? It’s an important thing to identify early on once a lead is accepted.
Reps should know whether the people they’re interacting with will need to consult with other decision makers in their organization before making a purchase decision. Ideally, your sales reps should also take steps to include those decision makers in the process, as leads are more likely to convert when sales messages are communicated directly.
While pricing is never the first thing sales reps want to talk about with prospects, it’s critical to have an understanding of their budget so you know if a lead has realistic potential to convert.
Otherwise, you’re at risk of wasting valuable time that could be better spent on other leads or strategic activities. When possible, a prospect’s budget should be a data point collected by marketing teams so it can be assessed during the sales acceptance step in your lead qualification process.
Immediate need for solution
Does your prospective customer show a sense of urgency about needing a solution? This is a big indicator of a sales accepted lead that’s likely to convert. Again, lack of urgency is not a means for rejecting a lead, but it does mean the prospect might need more nurturing and/or be slower to make a purchase decision. Leads that show urgency should be prioritized because they’re more likely to yield quicker sales revenue.
IT and process maturity
Implementation planning — at least in a general sense — often occurs as part of the sales process, prior to purchase. IT and process maturity, or the extent to which a company is able to successfully adopt new tools and practices, can impact whether a prospect decides to buy.
More specifically, lack of IT and process readiness can present a barrier to final purchase decision as implementation steps become overwhelming. This concern is particularly relevant for SaaS companies selling software products that must be integrated with other tools and workflows.
Reliable communication and follow-up
Leads most likely to convert will show initiative to answer questions, return phone calls, and generally take action that keeps the sales process moving. Those that are overly slow to respond, unclear about next steps, or seem hesitant to make decisions may need to move back a stage or two in the sales funnel or need more individualized attention from their sales rep.
While follow up is a natural part of a sales rep’s job, they shouldn’t have to constantly push leads to simply respond or take clear next steps — if they do, it’s a clear indication that the lead may not be quite ready to convert.
What about leads that aren’t accepted?
Not so fast! Those leads you reject should still be assessed and recorded.
Because they can provide valuable insights to your sales and marketing teams about gaps in the qualification process and opportunities to better streamline collaboration between your teams. Over time, this means your lead management process will become more defined and produce a higher percentage of qualified, high-potential leads.
Common reasons that leads are rejected include inaccurate prospect data, lack of fit with target market, poor match with customer profile (i.e. lacks need or budget), or an incorrect route (the lead was sent to the wrong place and/or at the wrong time). Identifying and recording how often these instances occur can help identify why they’re happening and ensure they’re solved more efficiently.
Over to You
Looking to level up your sales prospecting strategy? RevBoss can help. Our outbound email software and lead generation services are custom-built for startups, consultancies, marketing agencies, and other B2B organizations.
Schedule a quick call with us and find out how we can help you win more clients.