Sending All Your Leads to Sales? These 3 Steps Will Boost Marketing ROI

October 17, 2019 | Kirsten Lyons


High MQL targets force many marketers to send all of their leads to sales. But this approach ultimately drives down conversion rates, and teaches sales not to follow up on marketing leads that are likely to be dead ends. 

Marketers who send all their leads to sales often believe that if prospects are willing to share their company email address (through any channel), your sales team has a shot of selling them on your solution. But research from Gartner shows that buyer journeys are becoming more complex, and are no longer compatible with this model of early sales outreach.\

However, marketers can combat the costly inefficiency that this system creates by only sending the best leads to sales. The following three steps will help you get from sending all of your leads to sales to a high quality lead operation that improves your marketing ROI.

1. Recognize that not all leads are created equal

When marketers send all leads to sales, they overlook the diverse paths prospects take to convert, and what that means about their buying journey. Instead of focusing on leads that are a good fit for your business based on qualifying criteria, marketers often treat all conversions with the same weight.

This can be seen in how marketers attribute value to various channels—while they use multi-channel approaches to hit lead targets, they treat leads from all sources the same. 


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Marketers who send all of their leads to sales fail to prioritize leads according to the different levels of readiness buyers show when they convert from different channels. A lead that converts via a demo video is likely at a different stage in their buying process than a prospect that converting on your paid search campaign. 

Instead of handing all of your leads to sales, differentiating by the baseline buying intent signals prospects give you through their conversion channel is a key first step. Marketers can then work to learn more about leads in their funnel through subsequent content and campaigns to further assess buying intent. 

By recognizing that not all conversions are created equal, and focusing in on which leads are displaying buying intent, marketers can begin to prioritize the leads most likely to convert to customers. 

2. Set up nurture campaigns

Once you have the basics in place to differentiate leads based on buying intent, you can set up nurture campaigns to make the case for your solution to prospects and learn more to further qualify them.

Marketo reports that 96% of visitors to your website are likely not ready to make a purchase. But that’s where a good nurture campaign comes in: to qualify prospects while moving them down the funnel. 

Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, through content and campaigns that solve their problems and meet their needs in a buying process. In a successful lead nurturing program, marketers offer value to prospects through relevant content and campaigns, and learn qualifying information on prospects in throughout the process.

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By setting up campaigns to deliver relevant content and messaging (and gather qualifying information on prospects through different conversion opportunities) marketers can improve their chances of leads becoming customers. 

Get started on building your nurture campaigns based on buying intent here

Send only your best leads to sales 

Sales teams routinely ignore 50% of marketing leads, often because they’ve had to sift through haystacks of unqualified prospects in hopes of finding a needle. 

However, by putting the first two steps above into place, marketers will be set up to gauge buying intent by nurturing and learning more about prospects. The third step in improving your lead quality for better ROI on your marketing efforts is to employ a system to surface the best leads.

Marketers often turn to lead scoring to assign value to leads to approximate their sales readiness and likelihood to convert. 


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Marketers commonly to score leads based on engagement activity, assigning positive values for engagement like content downloads and email opens, and negative values for things like unsubscribes. While this system is easy to manage with marketing automation, it doesn’t offer marketers the whole story.

Your lead scoring model should center buyer intent in the same way steps one and two focus on figuring out which leads are hottest. Asking prospects qualifying questions throughout the nurture process, and scoring leads according to their fit and readiness, will ensure that prospects with the highest scores can be converted to customers by sales. 

Learn more about how to score your leads based on buying intent here.

Final Thoughts:

This three-step framework represents a path to improved marketing ROI through efficiently prioritizing leads. Find out how to take the next steps to prioritize the best leads for your business in our ebook, “How to Generate the Leads Sales is Demanding.”


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