Stop Assuming Your Inbound Leads Are Being “Handled”

August 16, 2013

Stop Letting Inbound Leads Slip Through Your Fingers

Many companies have a buttoned-up process for outbound leads, while inbound leads repeatedly slip through their fingers.

For most expansion-stage startups, the business development representative (BDR) is the first point of contact for any and all outbound leads. There is a touch-point model in place, and if done correctly even the coldest of leads have the potential of converting.

And yet inbound leads, while often actually warmer than outbound leads, are not always treated with the same process-oriented approach. The result is lost opportunities that could otherwise be key to your company’s growth.

We know that at the expansion stage both the marketing and sales teams are extremely busy. More often than not it is ‘all hands on deck,’ and it can be easy for even the most exciting inbound lead to fall through the cracks. Often it is assumed that someone has grabbed them, and only later is it discovered that wasn’t the case.

To avoid missed opportunities it is essential to build out an effective hand-off process for inbound leads the same way you would for an outbound lead. Primarily, you need to define who is responsible for the lead, what the time frame is, and what the touchpoint model is before the lead enters a new nurture campaign.

3 Questions for a Successful Inbound Lead Handoff

3 Questions to Ensure a Successful Inbound Lead Handoff

When creating this process there are three essential questions that you must ask yourself and your team to ensure success:

1) Who is the lead handed off to?

Once inbound leads have filled out a form or requested a piece of content, they need to be sent to an individual for their first human touch point. If there is a Marketing Qualification team in place, the lead should naturally go there. If not, the lead needs to be sent either to a BDR or an Account Executive.

That first touch point is extremely important and the person responsible for it should be well aware of their role in the inbound lead handoff process. Remember — consistency is key. If campaigns are being run simultaneously, it benefits your team to have a “one size fits-all” process. This way, there is never any confusion or questions as to who is responsible.

Regardless of who inbound leads are sent to, make sure that they know that this lead is warmer than the average outbound lead and requires a very specific conversation. The goal should not be an appointment (however, if you can manage to schedule one more power to you!), rather, the focus should be on offering up knowledge or additional content on a topic clearly of interest and purposefully designed to move the prospect forward in their buying process.

2) What is the timeframe for response?

The lifespan of an inbound lead is generally short lived and therefore any lead should be acted upon with a strong sense of urgency. According to, “you will see significant diminishing return on every call made outside of 48 hours, and after 7 days you will see a 60-70% drop in leads generated.” Educating your team on the importance of the timeframe and mapping out a timeline for response — with the expectation of logging activity in your CRM — is a surefire way to engage those leads while your company is fresh in their mind.

3) What is the process for tracking this lead and the activity against it?

As always, we recommend logging EVERYTHING in or your CRM of choice. This includes logging information on inbound leads. Whether they are added to your CRM through your marketing automation system or are manually entered, it is essential to track inbound leads and their progress through the conversion funnel.

Marketing should devise a plan to capture key data points and be able to run a report so that they can measure the results of an inbound campaign against the activity against these leads. It is also essential to have a touchpoint model in place that clearly outlines how often the person responsible is for reaching out before they enter a nurture campaign.

What suggestions do you have for improving the inbound lead handoff process?




<strong>CeCe Bazar</strong> is an Associate on OpenView's investment team. She was previously a Sales Strategist also at OpenView.