I'm not sure a single day has passed this quarter in which I haven't fielded complaints from one of our sales reps about the warmth of their leads. Even though these leads may meet our scoring requirements based on activity, "they may as well be names from a phone book", according to our reps. Initially I think to myself, "what the hell do you expect, 30 inbounds a day?". While they definitely wouldn't object, they're much more reasonable then that.
So the question is: what DO they really expect? The good news is, this isn't an uncommon problem. The Bridge Group recently published results of a survey of inside sales reps on this very issue. Check out one of the key metrics:
Pretty decisive, huh? While it'd be nice to be in that 7% that apparently deliver 75%+ in the sweet spot, the fact of the matter is, you work with what you've got. Since we're still a smaller company, we don't enjoy the kind of name recognition that a company like salesforce.com does. What we CAN control, though, is the framework we build for our lead scoring process and the agreement we make with sales to pass these leads over. Instead of the eternal back and forth of "marketing provides bad leads" and "sales doesn't know how to follow up", we can clearly define when and how leads will be passed, and also the level of qualification provided ("warmth"). Here's a great chart from SiriusDecisions that we use as a general framework:
Even if we're only passing over Level 1 leads, sales reps are less likely to complain if that's what they're expecting. Ultimately, we can build expectations for delivery of leads at each level in the spectrum.