One of the many healthy side effects of introducing a marketing automation system is the updating of definitions for each stage of the sales and marketing pipeline. The definitions of what constitutes a lead are often reviewed, discussed and determined during the implementation of a new Marketing Automation system. This takes place so companies can easily communicate with different kinds of potential customers in tailored, appropriate ways.
Many companies find, during this process, that Sales and Marketing have developed different definitions over time, and regaining unanimity via a fresh round of discussions can help to align potentially disjointed efforts and make the pipeline more efficient.
One set of definitions might be as follows:
Prospect – an individual who, based on title, company, and/or industry, should be interested in a product/service
Lead – has responded to some form of Marketing outreach (downloaded a white paper, took part in a webinar, visited the website, etc.)
Opportunity – has been contacted and qualified (via BANT or similar method – budget, authority, need, timeframe)
The call to action, then, for any company that has not brought together Sales and Marketing together within a reasonable period (say 18 months) is to bring them together to discuss how each department views and communicates with Prospects, Leads, and Opportunities. If your company is evaluating a Marketing Automation system, this discussion is even more urgent, as Marketing will be better equipped to use this information to nurture each category of potential customer in a focused, targeted manner with nurturing campaigns on an ongoing basis!