In order to understand the sales handover process, it is helpful to imagine it as a relay race where the marketing and sales teams are working together to bring in new business. The marketing team finds new leads and hands them off to the sales department. The sales department will then determine whether these leads are qualified and then follows up with them from there. Each person is responsible for their part in the process. This is what is known as the sales handover.
The problem is that often the sales handover can often be slow, awkward, and badly fumbled. Just like in an actual relay race, the minute one person loses momentum it can be incredibly difficult to regain your pace.
Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.Paul J. Meyer
This also means that the sales handover process can always be improved and that even small improvements can make a big difference. By collaborating, preparing, and carefully monitoring every step of the process the sales handover process can be dramatically improved.
The Problem with Most Sales Handover Processes
The sales handover is arguably one of the most important parts of the sales cycle but it is also frequently the most neglected part. Most of the time these handoffs are not smooth and they usually involve a lot of miscommunication and frustration.
The process of finding new business usually begins with the marketing department developing the right message and nurturing leads before they are handed off to the sales team. Problems with the sales handover process usually come down to one thing: a lack of collaboration and communication between the sales and marketing departments.
Although the marketing team puts in a lot of initial effort with developing leads the ball often gets dropped and qualified leads are lost. Why does this happen and what can be done to fix it? Listed below are the five most common problems with the sales handover process:
- The sales and marketing departments are not in alignment
If the marketing and sales departments are not in alignment, the process will be flawed. Each department needs to understand the overall revenue goals for the company and what metrics they need to deliver against. They both need to understand what a good lead looks like and how that person will be treated.
- The lead is given to the sales department too early
One of the biggest problems that occur in the sales handover process is when the marketing team passes leads that are not even close to being ready to make a purchase. Leads must be properly cultivated and it is important to establish at what point the lead should be delivered. It is a good idea to have a documented process in place for what role each person plays in the sales handover.
- The lead is handed off to the wrong person
Since you don’t want to lose momentum on a possible sale it is important that the lead is handed off to the right person. Choose someone who is readily available and has a proven track record of success with that type of lead.
- The sales department isn’t given enough information
Giving the sales department the lead’s information from the online inquiry is really the bare minimum that is necessary. However, the lead is much more valuable when the marketing department can summarize that person’s level of interest and what they might respond favorably to.
- The handover process is not clearly defined
If the sales handover process is not clearly defined then the ball will get dropped somewhere. Both teams need to understand what they are responsible for so work is not duplicated or just forgotten altogether. Having a clearly defined process minimizes the likelihood of error.
How to Perfect Your Sales Handover Process
Now that we understand the biggest problems with the sales handover process how can we fix them? The trickiest part of the sales handover is determining the point when a lead is ready to become a buyer. And it’s even harder to get two different teams of people to agree on what that point is.
If you wait too long then your lead could turn into someone else’s customer. But if you act too quickly then you could jeopardize the entire process.
So the question is, how do you maximize your efforts with every lead and ensure that no one slips through the cracks? Here are four ways you can perfect your sales handover:
- Foster open communication and collaboration
The sales and marketing teams must foster open communication and collaboration to ensure they are in sync. Everyone should clearly understand the revenue goals they are trying to reach. Everyone should also be in agreement on target prospects and what a qualified lead looks like.
- Have a clear definition of what information the sales department needs to be effective
General contact information is the most basic information the sales department will need. Without an email address or a phone number, the salesperson will have no way to even contact the lead. Ideally, the marketing team will be able to provide more information than this, though.
As a person interacts with your company at different points they leave a digital trail of information. From this, you can infer both their interest and their intent. The marketing team should make sure the sales department knows where a lead is in the pipeline and what their experience and interactions have been with the company.
- Utilize automation so no lead is wasted
Put an automated process in place to ensure that every lead is followed up on. High-quality leads should be followed up with immediately. Having an effective strategy in place for following up with leads is the best way to ensure no one falls through the cracks.
- Establish follow-up guidelines
Different sales representatives will often approach their leads in very different ways. Some will follow up relentlessly while others give up almost immediately. This is why it is a good idea for sales departments to establish very specific follow-up guidelines. These can include a minimum number of contact attempts and an anticipated timeframe for follow-ups.
According to Forrester, 88 percent of salespeople don’t feel like they have enough information on their leads when they make the first sales call. This is more evidence that sales and marketing teams are often out of sync and fumbling the sales handover process.
Improving the sales handover process will benefit everyone involved. Not only will you generate a higher ROI but the sales team will bring in more business. And most importantly, your leads will have a more positive experience working with your company. This positive experience will translate to more long-term customers and recurring business.