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You’ve had this conversation before. Every marketer has at some point.

Someone from sales makes a blanket statement about the leads that you generated from a webinar or trade show. All of the work that you put in — coordination with speakers, building the deck, ordering the t-shirts or giveaways, preparing the collateral — is quickly dismissed with the phrase “these leads suck.”

thumbsdown.jpgWhat is a marketer to do?

I’m proposing a more definite and precise way to diffuse this argument. Sales and marketing need a framework for having these conversations

The Sales & Marketing Handoff

Marketing should have some answers to these three questions for every lead or batch of leads that we pass to sales.

Is this good information?

Is the email, phone, and address information valid? A verified mobile number is much better than a verified company 800 number, so how would you rate the quality of the validated phone numbers returned? If you are a B2B marketer, a person’s business email address ( might be more valuable to you vs. the disposable email address that I use to download whitepapers ( is a valid email, but is provided by one of my go-to disposable email generators,

Is this information duplicated anywhere else in the system? Is this information up-to-date and relevant? Is the information complete — will a salesperson have all or most of the information that they need going into the first call?

There are a lot of factors to evaluate in determining whether or not this information is good; some metrics are black and white (is the phone valid) and some are fuzzy –

This is the foundation. Without a strong foundation, the next two questions become irrelevant.

Is this a good lead?

Is this a good person at a good company? We’re not asking if she has a heart of gold, we’re wondering if she is a decision maker at a company that is growing. Is the company in a growing market? Is the company profitable or in hyper-growth mode backed by venture funding? In other words, does she have budget? Does the company have funds to back up their purchase order?

Quality information for someone within the organization that has little or no sway is only slightly more useful than having bad information.

Is this a relevant lead?

Is this the right person at the right company?

This is different from the previous question. There are plenty of high level decision makers at high profile companies that would be irrelevant for your company. If you sell software to the medical industry, then the VP of Marketing at a hyper-growth tech startup is not the right lead for you. If you sell enterprise software, then the compliance manager at an oil & gas company is the wrong lead for you.

In other words, is this the best type of company relevant to my product or service?

Is this the right person for my sales team to be speaking with — will she understand the pain and be able to sign off on a purchase order?

Last but certainly not least, this measure seeks to ensure that marketing is employing targeted marketing techniques instead of shotgun techniques that show arbitrary lead growth with irrelevant leads.

Ok, great advice. What’s next?

Much of this framework can be assembled with some analysis of your CRM or marketing data.

Using a tool like Field Trip for Salesforce or some advanced CRM reporting, you can get a sense for what portion of your data is complete. Dupe Dive, another free app for Salesforce, will analyze your records for duplicates. The next level would be a more comprehensive data analysis which takes into account the validity of your information.

This will either give you more confidence in your database, or highlight the problem areas — more likely the latter. Once the problems are adequately resolved, you can move on to customer profiling and analyzing what portion of your leads fit that profile.

Last — and most important — you need to ensure that you have refinement processes in place so that when information gets into your system, your appending, deduping, validating and applying all of these data operations that ensure that it has good information. Once you have refined and made sure that you have good information you can decide whether or not it is a good lead. And finally, your sales reps (or possible you predictive analytics technology) can decide whether this is a relevant lead.

Questions about managing and analyzing customer & prospect data or how to accomplish some or all of the above? Reach out to me on Twitter (@joefusaro) or email me:


The author:

John Kosturos is VP of Enterprise & Channel Sales at RingLead. John is an expert in contact data quality and enrichment. He has helped customers and partners integrate data quality solutions that communicate with both Salesforce and marketing automation platforms.