How do you define and qualify a ‘good’ lead?

Many conversations with marketers has convinced me that we should remove the word ‘lead’ from the canon of marketing terms. Why? Because there appears to be no definition of a good lead. People talk of ‘qualified leads’, ‘marketing qualified leads’ and ‘sales qualified leads’, but if the term is going to be useful, and especially if we are going to use it in a ‘transfer’ from marketing to sales, we need to be very clear as to what it is.

To get away from this challenge the Head of UK&I Marketing at ATOS now calls leads “unqualified opportunities”. That’s not just renaming the same thing though; anything that comes through marketing, has an estimated value, close date, key contact with details and a 1-pager which summarises the detail. And they discuss the unqualified opportunity with sales and only put it into the CRM system if they agree. So, they don’t track ‘leads’ only unqualified opportunities. That has led to a greater ROI from marketing and an improved relationship with sales.

That sounds like a better approach. Minimising the number of ‘leads’ fed into the sales funnel and maximising the output, in terms of sales must be the right objective.

Do you have a clear definition of ‘leads’ in your organisation that you can share, and if not, why not? Do your sales people buy into the definition?