Converting Your Leads Into Qualified Opportunities

This is a part of a series that was cre­at­ed to help you get the prac­tice of out­bound prospect­ing built into your com­pany.  This series will walk through the process, nec­es­sary roles, in addi­tion to guides for each role to help your com­pany get started quickly.  In the next few posts, I’ll be releasing the contents of a quick start guide for the outbound prospecting manager to use to attain success during this process.

The ultimate goal of your outbound prospecting team is for them to convert leads into qualified opportunities to build the sales team’s pipeline. So what is an opportunity? The exact criterion of an opportunity needs to be determined in the early stages of the program’s creation. Once the definition is determined, not only do the new hires need to have the concept memorized, but the salespeople they are supporting need to be informed as well.

OpenView recommends to its portfolio companies that the following factors be in place in order for a lead to be defined as an opportunity:

  • The value proposition has been communicated
  • The prospect’s pain points and goals have been identified
  • There is immediacy (the prospect will be ready to purchase within 90 days)
  • There is a budget for this sort of product/service
  • The decision maker has agreed to have the next conversation

It is also important that the business development rep gathers as much information as possible from the lead, so that the account executive or sales rep will be more prepared for his/her conversation.

Some important additional information includes:

  • Current situation
  • Specific interests
  • Concerns

If the lead is at the point where it meets all of these criteria, it is time to pass the opportunity along to the appropriate account executive or sales rep. As mentioned earlier, your sales reps need to be thoroughly trained on the role of an outbound prospector, what to expect, and how to work successfully with them. This is a very important step, and it cannot be overlooked.

Here is a sample process for how a business development rep can pass along a lead to a sales rep:

  1. Depending on what territory the opportunity sits in, alert the decision maker on the call that (sales rep’s name) will be following up.
  2. Have the sales rep’s calendar open, and give the decision maker the option of two days/times, until he/she agrees to one.
  3. If the decision maker does not want to lock down a time, let them know that the rep will be in touch within the next week, and that if they have any questions before then, that they will be receiving an e-mail with both the business development and the sales rep’s contact information. This type of lead will be considered less of a priority because the person did not want to commit to a call time.
  4. After the call, send an e-mail to the contact (cc’ing the sales rep), creating the introduction between the two individuals. Thank the contact for their time, and recap the conversation (needs/pain points/and potential solutions). Alert both parties on the follow-up time, and assure the decision maker that the sales rep will be following-up on the chosen time (or within the week if there was no commitment made).
  5. Mark the time on the sales rep’s calendar and provide him/her with a detailed report of the conversation.

Once the business development rep has passed along the opportunity to the sales rep, there are two potential outcomes: either the sales rep accepts the opportunity, or rejects it.

  • The sales rep should contact the prospect within one week, or as otherwise specified in the next step
  • A prospect that cannot be reached after 3 phone/3 e-mail attempts will be flagged as a “rejected prospect,” and will not count toward the business development rep’s target numbers. These will be transferred back to the business development rep, who can further manage them.

Next week, I’ll provide some great ways to continuously improve your outbound process.

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