Fumbling the Marketing to Sales Handoff

From tableatny's Flickr photostream
From tableatny’s Flickr photostream

The art of the sale is a beautiful thing to experience when done in harmony and synchrony:

The desire and taste of a product becomes enticing and gnaws at the prospective customer’s mind. The hard work of positioning, gaining attention and clarifying the value proposition moves a person to think about having to own a product than living without. The marketing has worked to help someone see you in a compelling and attractive way.

The prospective customer decides to make that jump and fill out your web form. Or better yet, they call your publicized number and leave a message after navigating a 4 minute phone tree.

So marketing did their job and got a person to raise their hand. Now it’s the salesperson’s job to close the sale. The sales lead is sitting there in some database among many others.

New questions are critical: Is it a good lead? Did your teammate follow up?

Someone is supposed to touch base, but there are not notes to verify. Sometimes those notes are there and sometimes not. Depends on the person, workload and timing.

It’s a classic marketing to sales fumble, and the baton gets dropped. But it’s hard to really understand or qualify the cost of it. The interested customer is losing interest as time is ticking. They are not in the next conversation, and their attention and enthusiasm has a half life. They are moving on, perhaps to your competitors.

The handoff is an internal process. It has nothing to do with the customer. It has everything to do with the way an organization structures itself to focus. The bandwidth to get attention and get the message clear takes a lot of energy. The time it takes to talk to and engage one person at a time within a long pipeline means long hours focusing on relationships that may or may not materialize.

But when the handoff lacks continuity, the customer suffers. They get neglected and the timing is off.

Part of this comes from a lack of leadership around the handoff. Who really owns that part?

Many times, there is a gap in process. Marketing lives in a different world with different data sets. Sales is task-focused and pipeline driven and only wants to talk with real leads.

Here’s the place where leadership and advocacy for the customer can plug the holes and ensure you don’t miss those precious, hard-earned opportunities. Studying the nuances of the marketing to sales handoff should be a priority, and systems and processes can be put in place to ensure a smooth and natural transition.

It can and should work without fumbling the baton. And if you nail it, the opportunity for revenue is often a much higher spike than other ideas that may just pump leads into an inefficient process.

How’s your handoff?