"I need those Leads," is a memorable quote from the 1992 movie, Always be Closing. The desperation for those leads was intense and emotional. The Salesmen (yes, they were all men), were willing to do anything to get their hands on those precious few leads. Go forward about 25 years and think about today's leads. The fundamental definition of a lead has changed, and sometimes sales can't even be bothered with them.
The Alt. Lead
What's an Alt. Lead? It may be defined as a Warm lead or an MQL, a Marketing Qualified Lead, where the prospect has demonstrated some level of interest in your product or service or has engaged with your company, your Website, social media page, etc.
They opened or clicked on an a link in an email from marketing
They liked or shared a company post on Social Media
They downloaded a White Paper
There's a huge difference between someone sharing a post and a true prospect taking the time to fill out a "Contact Us" form or actually picking up the phone and calling the office to get more information. Before the Internet and Smart Phones, this might be the difference between someone casually walking into a store and someone walking around looking for a salesperson to help them.
Is this all just semantics? An MQL vs. an SQL, a Sales Qualified Lead. Perhaps it is but it's a very important distinction. The way Sales spends their day has a direct impact on their success and if they are chasing Alt. Leads that are not likely to convert into Opportunities, then they are losing precious time that they could be using to follow up with qualified prospects and closing deals.
Marketers get frustrated when their sales teams don't respond and follow up on leads quickly enough and that's a fair grievance but on the flip side, marketers need to help distinguish true leads and prospects from Alt. Leads and suspects. And this is an ongoing process. Depending on the sales cycles, lead qualification may be a matter of timing and determining when that suspect has migrated into true lead territory. Unlike Alternate Facts, Alt. Leads can, and often will, eventually migrate into qualified leads.
Overall, leads are leads and sales will take as many marketing can get but in today's environment, no one is interested in Alt. ANYTHING. Marketing should use the extraordinary technology that is now available not only to get leads, but also to classify them correctly and pass them on to sales at the right time.
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