A new lead comes in.  Whether it’s in response to a white paper or demo request or webinar or product inquiry, how will you respond?  When?  How often until you reach the prospect back live?  How persistent should you be, and when should you give up?

Whether you’re managing leads yourself or managing an entire sales team, having a consistent lead follow-up or disposition process is key to systematically driving higher activity and better lead conversion performance.

A good lead disposition process works equally for inbound leads and cold-calling.  The idea is to apply a consistent set of activities that respond to the prospect’s inquiry or behavior without overwhelming them, allow you multiple attempts to reach the prospect for a live conversation or response before marking the lead for further nurturing.

An effective disposition process either reaches the prospect for qualifying, disqualifies them as an inappropriate prospect, or hands them back to marketing for ongoing nurturing until they’re both qualified and ready to buy.

The process you follow will likely differ based on the nature of the prospect.  I’d recommend a different process for cold calls vs. inbound leads, and would further recommend different processes for soft leads (i.e. white paper requests) vs. warmer leads (i.e. demo requests or straight product inquiries).

Below is a sample disposition process that enumerates channel used (phone & email primarily) as well as sequence and wait time between attempts.  This can be semi-automated in Salesforce.com or other CRM systems to help you (or your sales reps) execute against leads at different points in their disposition sequence every day.