Lead disposition—the rules that govern how sales moves a sales qualified lead (SQL) to an opportunity, disqualifies it as inappropriate, or returns it to marketing for further nurture—is a critical process in optimizing both inbound and outbound demand generation in companies of all sizes. If lead disposition rules and processes are not optimized and adhered to rigorously, you’ll run into the following issues:

Simply put, lead disposition is a true point of intersection for marketing and sales and plays a crucial role in growing your business revenue.

According to Tony Kavanagh, CMO at Insightly, lead disposition is the single most important part of the demand generation funnel flow, from visitor to customer, and beyond.

Decluttering eliminates confusion and fosters a greater sense of alignment between sales and marketing teams.

“Keeping your lead queue clean provides a clear field of vision for the people who go out and close deals,” says Tony. “It also enables a continuous feedback loop so that marketing gets the data they need to improve lead quality.”

Lead disposition example

Before going any further, let’s look at a basic example to illustrate how lead disposition works in an ideal world.

1. A new prospect raises his hand

A prospective customer visits your website and requests more information by submitting a webform. He provides his name, email address, phone number, and company name, which is sent to your CRM via a web-to-lead form.

2. Your sales team engages with the lead

An account executive (AE) from your sales team follows up to learn more about the lead’s needs. After a brief discussion, the AE realizes that the lead submitted the form by mistake and/or does not actually fit your company’s ideal customer profile (ICP).

3. The AE disposes of the lead record

Considering that the lead mistakenly filled out the form/does not fit your ICP, and will not be a fit in the future, your AE deletes the lead from your CRM.

Although this example seems rather straightforward, the reality is that most lead disposition scenarios are not so cut and dry. Most leads do not mistakenly fill out forms. Many leads fit with your ICP but lack engagement. Others are highly engaged but do not directly align with your ICP, creating an overflowing list of quasi-qualified lead records.

In short, knowing when to dispose of a lead record is rarely obvious—especially without the right set of rules and processes.

“Disposing” of qualified lead records

Now, what about leads that actually fit my ICP and are ready to be sales-qualified?

Obviously, true leads should not be deleted from your system. That being said, their lead records should still be disposed of as quickly as possible.

“The lead queue should never be used as a permanent location to keep leads. The goal of any business should be to empty the lead queue as quickly as possible,” says Tony. “Think of it as the place where marketing and sales compete in a never ending race with opposing objectives: marketing to fill the queue; sales to empty it.”

What’s the difference between lead deletion and lead disposal? Here are two ways to dispose of lead records without deleting them.

1. Convert the lead to an opportunity in your CRM

The most common way to dispose of a qualified lead record is to simply convert it to an opportunity, contact, and organization. If you’re an Insightly customer, here’s how to convert a lead in a few clicks.

2. Revert the lead to a prospect in your marketing system

Perhaps the lead isn’t ready to move forward but wants to stay in the loop. Or, maybe the lead unexpectedly went ice cold. Having your sales team continuously reach out is a waste of time, and converting the lead to an opportunity does not make sense. If you’re using a marketing automation system that’s tightly coupled to (or is part of) your CRM, you may be able to dispose of the lead by moving the person back to “prospect” status. That way, the prospect will continue to receive your nurtures and communications without clogging up the lead queue.

Benefits of a lead disposition program

According to Tony, implementing a lead disposition program requires close alignment between sales and marketing along with buy-in from senior level staff. Agreeing on a shared set of definitions, rules, processes, data, and technology puts an organization in the best position to reap the full benefits of a lead disposition workflow. Such benefits include the following.

1. Data integrity

Effective use of customer data is increasingly important to companies of all sizes and business models. Lead disposition accelerates effective data use by ensuring sales and marketing activities match up with your buyer journey personas.

2. Marketing campaign performance

Marketers cannot guarantee ever-increasing levels of return on advertising spend without outcome-based feedback from sales. Disposing of lead records (either through qualification, reversion to prospect, or deletion) provides marketers with the data-driven intelligence that’s necessary for making prudent advertising decisions.

3. Sales performance

Your sales team wants to do what they do best—sell. Parsing through dozens of random lead records is not an effective use of their time. Lead disposition aligns with their desire to sell by overcoming unnecessary clicks and decluttering the workspace.

Why aren’t more companies doing this?

Clearly, lead disposition is an innovative approach to managing the middle of your lead generation funnel. But, if it’s so innovative, why aren’t more companies actively strategizing about their lead disposition workflow?

Stay tuned for our next post that explores why lead disposition rarely occurs in the real world and what does it take to set up a proper lead disposition.

In the meantime, explore other sales and marketing topics and best practices on the Insightly Blog.