Fumbling the Sales Hand-Off – Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid

Lead generation is a top priority for most companies, and one that’s getting easier thanks to prospecting tools, digital marketing, and other marketing automation tools enhancing the process. The thing is, lead gen is only a first step to making a sale — a new lead needs to be successfully passed from your marketing to sales team before it can become a closed deal.

In this guide, we’ll cover what not to do when you’re executing the sales lead handoff. More specifically, we’ll dive into 7 common mistakes companies make that cause their leads to fall out of the pipeline (and likely into those of their competitors).

We’ll walk through each mistake, why it happens, and what to do instead so that your leads move seamlessly toward conversion.

Quick Takeaways

  • Marketing and sales teams must be aligned for sales lead handoffs to be successful.
  • It’s critical to implement detailed and documented processes to ensure accountability and consistent execution.
  • Lead qualification and lead scoring can be automated in your CRM and make lead management more efficient and effective.
  • Marketing automation is a key part of the sales lead handoff, ensuring none fall through the cracks due to human error.
  • Appointment scheduling services and/or software free up sales rep bandwidth for prospect engagement.

Siloed Marketing and Sales

It’s an age-old problem for every kind of business — how can you align your marketing and sales teams to maximize ROI and deliver a more seamless buyer experience?

Most of the time it’s not easy, but it is essential. Companies with high alignment consistently earn higher revenue, brand awareness, and average deal size. Siloed teams, on the other hand, create barriers along your sales pipeline, stunt growth potential for your business, slow down processes, and even potentially allow leads to fall through the cracks.

Graph shows that companies with high marketing and sales alignment consistently earn higher revenue, brand awareness, and average deal size.

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Aligning the two teams means facilitating shared strategies and standards for lead generation and prospect management, as well as interactivity between the two on a regular basis. Some effective ways to do this include:

  • Schedule regular marketing and sales meetings with team leaders and key players
  • Documenting processes and sharing them with your teams
  • Building detailed ideal customer profiles and buyer personas to serve as guides
  • Adopting collaboration tools to encourage frequent communication

No Lead Qualification or Scoring

Marketing automation now enables companies to generate a high volume of leads at scale. It’s great for filling the pipeline, but can be challenging from a lead management perspective.

To ensure you give attention to the most high-potential leads first, eliminate those with no real chance of conversion, and perfect the marketing/sales handoff, you need lead qualification and lead scoring in place.

Lead qualification determines two things: whether a lead fits your ICP and buyer personas, and their level of purchase readiness. Typical qualification categories include:

  • Marketing qualified (MQL) — Good fit but need more nurturing before they’ll be ready for the sales team
  • Sales accepted (SAL) — Accepted by the sales team (AKA the handoff is complete)
  • Sales qualified (SQL) — Showing high purchase intent and ready for sales outreach

These qualification standards allow your teams to categorize leads for appropriate follow-up and maintain ownership and accountability.

Alongside lead qualification should be lead scoring, or the process of assigning numeric value to leads based on certain criteria — behavioral, demographic, and more. Lead scoring helps you determine which leads in your pipeline should be prioritized first based on how they well fit your ICP and personas.

Typically, companies can build a lead scoring model (like the one shown below) and automate this process — as well as qualification — in their CRM system.

Sample lead scoring model showing lead criteria and point values.

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Vague Handoff Processes

You might think your marketing and sales team will take proactive ownership for where leads stand in the pipeline and who is managing them, but this is almost never the case. Without a detailed handoff process, leads are likely to be stuck in limbo at some point during their buyer experience, meaning they have a higher chance of falling off.

Outline the procedures your marketing team should follow to send a lead to sales, and the same for how marketing should indicate a lead has been accepted (or not).

Delayed or Lacking Follow-Up

Your internal process for managing leads is only one part of the process — you’ll also need to outline next steps for reaching out to your leads. How does a sales rep get assigned to a sales accepted lead? How do they evaluate what their first outreach should be? How quickly should they be reaching out?

This last question is the most important — and not knowing the answer leads to one of the biggest mistakes sales teams make when it comes to handling leads: delayed (or even total lack of) follow-up.

Most leads expect follow-up after a specific interaction (like filling out a subscription form or requesting a demo) to happen in hours or even minutes. Typically, it’s an action like this that triggers a lead being passed from marketing to sales — meaning your sales team needs to follow up right away to keep the lead happy and engaged.

Overly Manual Processes

The sheer amount of leads companies can generate today makes manual processes risky if not totally impossible. Marketing automation now enhances every part of the sales pipeline management process and should be used as much as possible to manage leads systematically and keep them moving to the next step.

Utilize your CRM tool as a starting point and integrate it with other important software tools for prospecting, email marketing, social media management, website management (and more).

The benefits? More consistent processes and assurance that no lead will be forgotten due to human error.

Poor Scheduling Procedures

One of the first steps taken after a lead is handed off to sales is scheduling an appointment. It needs to happen quickly and with the right follow-up steps in order to confirm meetings with prospects and ensure their attendance. Appointment setting services can be a huge help with this, releasing bandwidth back to your sales reps for actual selling.

Appointment setting service bundles vary, but often include:

  • Finding and qualifying sales leads
  • Answering questions from potential leads
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Handling requests to reschedule appointments
  • Providing general lead support

The Key to Sales Lead Handoff Success

So what’s the main takeaway? To avoid these and most other sales lead handoff mistakes, take proactive steps to put the right tools, frameworks, and processes in place, including:

  • Documented internal processes for handing leads off from marketing to sales
  • Clear lead qualification and lead scoring standards (automated in your CRM)
  • Detailed sales process that includes next steps for timely outreach to new SQLs
  • Appointment scheduling software or other admin support tools as needed

At RevBoss, we can help you get the right processes in place from the start, finding leads that are best-fit for your solutions and have the highest chance of successfully converting to sales.

Our outbound email software and lead gen services are custom-built for startups, marketing agencies, consultancies, and other B2B organizations to help them grow.

Schedule a quick call with us and find out how RevBoss can help you win more clients.