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Lead processing – The 4 levels of lead transfer in the sales process

Lead processing in the sales process

The first step in efficient lead processing is to be clear about the various stages in the sales process and to create a uniform understanding of the terms within the organization. When people talk about a lead, prospect or opportunity, they are often referring to completely different stages in the lead process.

What is lead processing?

However, they can also be different names for exactly one stage. This inevitably leads to confusion, false expectations and disappointment in lead processing. See also „What is a lead“.

In addition to the different stages in the sales process, it is also necessary to define who is responsible for handling the contacts at each stage of the sales funnel:

Usually the first phases are assigned to marketing

Pre-qualified prospects or leads are then passed to the sales department

In practice, difficulties often arise because the handover points are not clearly defined and, for example, leads are passed on that have not yet been sufficiently qualified.In order to be able to answer the question "What is lead processing" in the context of the sales process, we will take a closer look at the individual stages below:

1. marketing to sales


Successful communication in lead processing: Marketing and sales should define exactly what information needs to be generated about the lead before it is passed on to sales (= marketing qualified lead). The sales team can then focus on the real leads.

Such criteria may be, for example:

the timing of a new purchase decision,

Their expected volume

the product used up to now

Transferring to sales also depends on the length of the sales process:

If this lasts for about six months, the sales department should be involved six to eight months before a new purchase decision is made.

In the case of a shorter or longer sales process, this point in time is shifted accordingly.

2. sales to partners

Depending on the sales model, the leads may be further qualified within the sales organization, e.g. through pre-sales or inside sales, and then finally passed on to direct sales or partners (=sales qualified lead).

In addition, prospects can be returned directly to marketing if further sales processing does not appear to make sense at the moment. Leads can then be further maintained or nurtured.

What is used to decide when the lead goes into direct sales and when it goes into the partner channel?

It is essential that these criteria be clear so that conflicts between channels are avoided.

The choice of distribution channel is often made dependent on the sales of the target company.

In this case, a firmly defined source for determining this sales figure (e.g. address brokers) helps to make an indisputable allocation.

If the lead is ultimately to be sent to a partner for further processing, the partner should know exactly what lead quality he can expect and what processing history the prospect brings with him.

Leads can be assigned directly to a partner that seems suitable or offered to several qualified partners.

3. partners to sales

If a partner does not want to or cannot process a lead further, it often peters out vwithout further processing and without feedback to the internal sales organization.


To avoid this, partners must be encouraged to return such leads promptly and with appropriate commentary. Only in this way can another partner process them or learn from the mistakes made when passing on the leads.


Various reasons can be defined for the return of leads, such as "project does not fit" or "no lead", in order to decide whether it makes sense to pass them on to another partner and, if so, to which one.

4. partner to marketing

If the partner completes the lead process, further handling of the contact will most likely be back in the hands of marketing.

If the lead could not be led to a purchase, the prospect flows back into processing as part of the regular communication.

Once the prospect has become a customer, existing customer marketing will take over further support.


In any case, it must be ensured that the partner also communicates the completion of the lead process, i.e. documents it in the lead management system.


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