It seems to be an age-old conundrum: when is the right time for the ownership and care of a delicately nurtured lead to pass from the marketers to the sales team?

There can often be a sense that this transition can be the most precarious time in the success or failure of your prospect's buying experience. As Jeremy Knight writes:

"This is where the danger lies if you do not have a joined-up (sales and marketing) approach. The world is littered with examples of fantastic experiences that start so well but, due to failings in marketing automation or a disconnect with Sales, end with disappointment (all round)."

You're both working to achieve the same thing for the business after all, so why is it that this hand-over can be the cause of such controversy?

Well, it doesn't need to be thorny, according to Jackie Van Meter. In her post for Kuno Creative, below, she suggests that - by agreeing some key indicators and methodologies - your Marketing and Sales teams should be able to establish a process for assessing leads for their sales readiness and for ensuring hand over happens at a time that works for everyone. 

She believes that the transfer of contacts should be governed by two chief principles: lead "warmth" and lead qualification. 

In terms of warmth, your Marketing department should be looking for signs of significant interest in your solutions or products, i.e. conversion on landing pages, visits to certain site content, engagement with emails or social campaigns. This will indicate "warmth", which might be relatively transient so time is of the essence, but these leads should still not be handed over to Sales without checking that they fulfil certain other agreed criteria. And this is the second part of the equation, lead qualification - whereby leads are appraised for their appropriateness according to what your ideal buyer looks like.  In other words, are they the most likely candidates for Sales to successfully and usefully engage with? 

The post goes on to outline a number of ways that you can use marketing automation and prospecting tools, such as lead scoring and lead nurturing, to enable you to best monitor these two key areas of lead fitness.  

Again, your Marketing and Sales teams need to collaborate on how scoring could best be implemented to facilitate hand over. And, similarly, the progression of lead nurturing activity from Marketing to Sales should be jointly defined, ensuring this happens at a time that best suits the needs and considerations of your prospective buyer.  

Let's give the last word to Knight, who underlines the importance of timing and alignment in this hand off:  "where one hands over to the other, the transition needs to be seamless. After all, for the buyer, this is ‘an experience’, and it needs to work end-to-end. Any disconnect in the middle is unlikely to end well."