How to Handle Live Transfers Like a Boss

Daniel Threlfall

Live transfers are designed to facilitate silky smooth handoffs between an SDR and AE in real-time. 

But let’s be honest. Things don’t always happen so seamlessly. 

Here’s everything you need to know to create an ultra streamlined system for zero friction live transfers to send your conversions soaring sky high. 

When Should You Use Live Transfers?

But really quick, allow me to provide a bit of context.

Every situation is different, but here’s a classic example of how a live transfer would go down. 

Say one of your SDRs has a qualified lead on the phone. 

They’ve already established that the lead has a genuine interest in buying and have moved them through most of the sales funnel.

It’s a high value lead that, if converted, would be a real game changer for your company.

You also know for a fact that your SDR is on the phone with a decision-maker who has the ability to pull the trigger and make a major purchase. 

So, you certainly don’t want to let them slip your fingers.

Rather, you need to swiftly transfer the lead from your SDR to an AE in real-time so they can provide a demo without losing any momentum and get the deal closed right away. 

That’s where live transfers come in. 

When used correctly, these enable you to move leads from an SDR to an AE fluidly so the latter can finalize things and get the deal done. 

Here’s how to do that like a boss.

Be Ultra Specific with Your Lead Qualification Criteria

First of all, certain lead criteria must be met in order for live transfers to be initiated. 

Otherwise, what’s the point of passing off a lead from an SDR to an AE?

The whole purpose of making the switch is that a lead meets base qualification requirements. 

That’s why you’ll want to be crystal clear in terms of what constitutes as a live transfer ready call.

To do this effectively, Tito Bohrt of Sales Hacker suggests creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between these different parts of your sales team to determine what’s qualified and what’s unqualified.

He elaborates saying, “that means that you should use qualification criteria such as:

  • They use Salesforce
  • They have at least 500 employees
  • They are an e-commerce company
  • The meeting is with a director-leve or above

However you can’t use criteria that is ambiguous such as:

  • The prospectr is interested
  • They have ‘pain’ or ‘need’”

This graph from Sales Hacker also does a great job of illustrating where an AE’s job starts and an SDR’s ends. 

Having lead qualification criteria like this should ensure that unqualified or underqualified leads aren’t handed off prematurely, allowing AEs to focus exclusively on the best of the best leads and helping you make the best of your employee resources. 

Have SDRs Share Key Information with AEs

At the end of the day, communication is going to make or break your live transfers. 

If communication between an SDR and an AE is flawless where they’re on the same page right from the start, it’s going to lead to better interactions between the AE and the lead.

And naturally, the odds of converting increase dramatically. 

On the other hand, if there’s poor communication with hiccups between an SDR and AE, the interactions between the AE and lead are going to suffer. 

Say for instance, the lead shares information with the SDR such as their industry, company size, their CRM, and so on. 

Then, a few minutes later the AE asks for the exact same information. 

This is going to roll some eyes for sure and potentially sour any rapport the SDR has already established. 

“The more your leads have to repeat themselves, the slower the deal will process,” writes Bryan Elsesser of Aircall. “Plus, any inefficiencies will create a negative customer experience from the very beginning of your relationship.”

In fact, Elsesser says that a lack of communication is the number one reason why live transfers fail — and I agree with him. 

There’s simply no room for poor communication when game changing deals are on the line. 

Fortunately, this is something that’s pretty easy to avoid. 

“Prevent these errors by establishing a written process based on the type of deal you’re pursuing,” Elsesser adds. “The SDR needs to make sure they collect information that’ll help the AE give a demo and get the win.”

The easiest way to do this is to 1) have a checklist of information for an SDR to obtain during the conversation and 2) make it dead simple for them to share it with an AE. 

So, if an AE specifically needs to know a lead’s industry, company size, and CRM, an SDR would need to ensure they collect it and check the information off their list one-by-one. 

Besides that, I suggest having an SDR include additional notes that can provide an AE with leverage during their conversation. 

If for example, there was a particular feature that captured the lead’s attention initially or a major pain point they’ve expressed concern about, your AE would definitely want to know about it. 

Ask for Permission

Etiquette is obviously huge when interacting with leads, regardless of what stage of the sales funnel they’re in. 

According to research from HubSpot, 61% of buyers specifically say that they want sales reps to be respectful and not “be pushy.”

Sales Prospecting Definition, Techniques, and Why It’s Important

A simple yet effective way to maintain great etiquette during live transfers is to have the SDR formally ask for permission before handing the lead over to an AE. 

“This creates a really good impression,” says James Nick of Insurance Heaven. “When the prospect gives his consent, he gets more involved in the process and he feels that he is not being rushed through the process to close the sale hastily.”

I know that I appreciate this when I’m getting moved from department to department. 

So, rather than an SDR saying something like, “I’m going to put you through to my account executive,” they’d be better off saying something like, “My account executive will take over from here and will assist you with the rest of the process…can I go ahead and put you through to them?”

This may not sound like that big of a deal, but it’s a small gesture that many people will appreciate and should make live transfers go as smoothly as possible. 

Don’t Let SDRs Get Too Much “In the Weeds” with Leads

Bryan Elsesser makes another great point that an SDR shouldn’t go too deep into a discovery. 

“If the SDR goes too far in their conversation, the AE will unknowingly begin their conversation in a way that forces the prospect to repeat themselves, creating a poor customer experience,” he says. 

This is something not every sales team thinks about, but it’s so true. 

Just put yourself in the shoes of a lead for a second. 

They’ve just spent a good chunk of time in conversation with an SDR. 

They’ve gone over the details of what they’re looking for in a product, what their pain points are, what concerns they have, etc. 

They’ve also built significant rapport with the SDR and feel comfortable interacting with them, knowing that they’ll steer them in the right direction to find the optimal solution. 

Then, they’re handed over to an AE and are forced to have the same conversation (or at least a really similar conversation) all over again. 

I know I’ve been in this type of situation more than I can count. 

And it can be a big problem because of the inherent friction it creates — in some cases “killing the vibe” entirely. 

Check out this video of Bryan Elsesser for more details on this phenomenon. 

So, how exactly should your team handle it?

The trick is to not have an SDR get “too much in the weeds” and not instantly jump into deep discovery. 

“Even with a smaller deal, it will be hard to not want to jump into deep discovery questions,” writes Elsesser. “But remember, when the deal is fast, discovery is an AE’s job.”

Make sure this is in the back of an SDR’s mind when taking the initial sales call and have them aim for the sweet spot where they do enough prodding to understand the lead’s needs but aren’t going so deep that the lead ends up repeating themselves later on with an AE. 

Do that and you should be in much better shape with your live transfers.

Keep the Hold Time of Live Transfers Under a Minute

John Capes of Anomaly Squared explains that during live transfers leads are “warm” and typically put on hold briefly by an SDR until they find an appropriate AE. 

But things can quickly head south if the lead is put on hold for too long — a mistake that can stop deals dead in their tracks. 

So, just how long are people willing to wait?

Not very long, according to real-time website customer support app Velaro.

Data from one of their studies found that nearly a third (32.3%) of people aren’t willing to be put on hold at all, 27.6% are willing to be put on hold for 1 minute, and 30.2% are willing to be put on hold for 1 – 5 minutes.

By these numbers, 59.9% of people are going to have a problem if it takes more than a minute for an SDR to connect them with an AE. 

Therefore, it should take an absolute max of one minute, which brings me to my final point. 

How can you make live transfers lightning fast?

Use Chili Piper Hot Handoffs

You probably already know that Chili Piper is an awesome tool for booking meetings and routing leads. 

But it’s also great for handling live transfers. 

The Hot Handoffs function is specifically designed to seamlessly move scorching hot leads from one member of your sales team to another. 

And it’s really easy to use. 

Say that one of your SDRs is on the phone with a very promising lead and needs to hand them off to an AE.

They simply click the Hot Handoff fire icon, and Chili Piper will immediately transfer the meeting. 

It will show them who’s currently available…

…and the SDR clicks on whoever they want to pass the lead to. 

Chili Piper will then book the meeting for both parties, create the event in Salesforce, and assign it to the new owner. 

That’s all there is to it. 

This way there’s no drama or scheduling conflicts, and you can ensure that leads get where they need to go without losing any momentum. 

For a full walkthrough on Chili Piper Hot Handoffs, check out this tutorial

Live Transfers FAQs

What is a live transfer?

It’s when an SDR hands off a high-qualified lead to an AE.

The lead will meet certain criteria that’s agreed upon ahead of time and be sent to an AE with the goal of making the sale.

How long are most people willing to wait to be connected to an AE?

1 minute

What are some tips to make live transfers happen more smoothly?

  • Use highly specific lead qualification criteria to ensure SDRs only send top tier leads to AEs
  • Ensure SDRs share key information with AEs
  • Have SDRs ask for permission before handing off leads to AEs
  • Have SDRs avoid getting into “deep discovery” with leads
  • Ensure live transfers have a max waiting time of one minute
  • Use Chili Piper for hot handoffs

No Drama, Just Conversions

When done right, live transfers can convert more than 10x higher than clicks.

They’re extremely potent and can help you efficiently move qualified leads through to the bottom of your sales funnel and get them to convert

It’s just a matter of making the handoff between SDRs and AEs smooth and seamless and having the foresight to stop unnecessary glitches from happening.

See how Chili Piper can help you route leads when they’re most engaged. 

Get your demo today.


About the author
Daniel Threlfall

I help SaaS and online businesses drive viral organic website traffic to double their organic traffic and revenue in 6-12 months.

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