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Inbound Marketing, Sales |


Don’t Hand Off the Lead to Sales Before You Call the Play

Dean Moothart


It’s great when a plan comes together. You've designed your inbound marketing strategy, written blog articles that demonstrate your thought leadership, created premium content relevant to the needs of your buyer personas, deployed calls-to-action, created forms and landing pages to convert and capture leads, and it all seems to be working. You’ve attracted new visitors to your website and generated new leads. You’ve even deployed a lead scoring system to attach a value to each lead before you hand them off to Sales. Everything seems to be working as planned. As a marketer, you’ve done your job. Once you hand that lead off to Sales, you’re done. Right? Well, maybe not.

It's Not Just About Generating Leads—It's Also About Selling

Remember that the goal of your inbound marketing strategy isn’t to just increase the number of visitors to your website and generate new leads. Is a football team satisfied just because their offense is on the field? Are they satisfied when they cross the 50 yard line? How about if they get the ball into the red zone? Of course not. They want to score a touchdown. They want to put points on the scoreboard. They want to win the game. As with any marketing program, the goal should be to generate new customers and increase revenue—not just generate leads.

So before you hand off the lead to Sales ask these questions:

  • Do they know what to do next?
  • Is it clear to them how and when that prospect should be engaged?

Don’t leave anyone guessing on what the next step should be. Marketing needs to call the next play and make sure Sales is equipped and knows how to execute.

According to Tiffani Bova, Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, the play that marketing calls should be prescriptive, descriptive and surgical.

Prescriptive—Not Arbitrary

The play that marketing calls should be based on methodologies that have worked in similar situations. We don’t want anyone just “flying by the seat of their pants” or “shooting from the hip.” Study the sales process of your best salespeople and get their input and feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Any steps in the process should be tracked in a CRM, so they can be monitored, measured and adjusted when necessary.


The play that marketing calls should offer very clear instructions on what is expected from the salesperson. For instance, just telling the salesperson to call the prospect is not enough. Instead, provide thorough instructions that include when to call, the objective of the call, what to say when the salesperson gets the prospect on the phone, what to say in a voice mail message, when to send a follow up email, a template for the follow up email, and how many times the salesperson should attempt to reach the prospect in a predetermined window of time. 

Surgical—Precise Instructions to Accommodate Various Scenarios

Different scenarios (buyer persona, sales funnel stage, etc.) will require different plays be called. The play that is called for a C-level decision-maker who downloads a case study should be different than the play called for a Manager who downloads a top-of-the-funnel eBook.      

The “playbook” should be managed and maintained by Marketing. Be on the lookout for new scenarios, test different next-step tactics, solicit feedback from Sales, and never hand off a lead without first calling the play. You could end up being your team’s MVP.   

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Dean Moothart

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