We all wish our sales team wouldn’t cherry pick but fact remains that they they do and perhaps they always will. It makes it difficult sometimes for us if our objectives are measured by the pipeline and we dont see our qualified leads being picked up and brought forward. We question why they called upon someone else when we are carefully crafted a message that delivered the ideal qualified target right to them.

So what can we do to get our sales teams to stop doing this? Or more importantly, how can we elevate the value of the services we are providing to them to ensure that the leads we are delivering are the ones they should, in fact, be calling upon?

Here are 5 ways you can start:

1. Make a comparison

Sometimes the only way to get through to someone is with the facts. I worked in an organization where one person on my sales team was religiously cold calling on people he found on LinkedIn that he was convinced were the ideal ‘lead’. The person may or may not have known about us. They may or may not have had an active project seeking the solution we offered. The facts didn’t lie though. I went head to head with these efforts compared to a sales person that called upon leads qualified by marketing. The results don’t lie. The person making the cold calls had really long sales cycles (if it even ended up in a sale) while the comparative was shorter. The touchpoints were also reduced when a lead was qualified before sales called upon them (sometimes 5 touches vs. over 25!). When faced with the facts, it was harder for this person to justify calling upon anyone that ‘felt’ like a lead.

2. Work with sales

I know you know your market and you have a very good sense of who the target is but you really need to get the ok from sales. Work together with them to define what a lead looks like and how that person needs to behave in order for them to become qualified. If you gain buy-in from the onset, then your chances for success are much greater. And if sales is a part of defining what a lead is, then they are in fact ‘picking’ the ones they want (it’s just that they are picking the ones you want them to pick too!).

3. Keep the ‘bad’ leads invisible

This is going to take some technology but there is way for you to collect and nurture leads without your sales team ever seeing them. If you use an automation software that provides the opportunity to collect leads and store them in a database where you can nurture them, you can build intelligence around what stays there and what gets passed on to a CRM like Salesforce.com If your sales team is only seeing those leads that meet your qualified lead definition, then they will have less opportunity to weed through and pick out the ones they want to call upon.

4. Establish an SLA

Consider for a moment you telling the sales organization to just cherry pick all they want. Have at it team! This can actually be possible if you establish an SLA for those qualified leads that you pass through. Say you define a point in your SLA that says ‘when a qualified lead is created in the CRM system, the sales person assigned has 24 hours to make first contact.’ Now if they are living up to this commitment, then they are freely encouraged to go on their own and cold call their hearts out.

Cherry picking will probably never stop. I feel like it’s in our nature in a lot of ways. How many times a day do you pick what you want to tackle on your to do list? Pick what email you want to read and respond to first? Pick which call to return? Lunch to eat? But when it comes to cherry picking leads and working with sales to work the qualified leads we deliver to them, it’s essential to our success. We all know that conversions are greater, sales cycles are shorter and there are less touchpoints required when someone has been qualified.

How do you handle cherry picking? Please share your ideas!