Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lead Management (Part 2)– Sales and Marketing Playing Nice

In a previous post (Part 1 here), I suggested ways Sales and Marketing can work together on a more effective way to score and prioritize incoming leads. Its a great place to start building trust between the two groups and it pays off in converting more leads. Continuing on those thoughts...

Who Qualifies Leads?

Make sure everyone know what they are expected to do and when. Having a highly scored lead fall through the cracks is like losing money. If the online lead needs to be further qualified, who does it? Will inside sales qualify the leads further and set up appointments for Field Sales or is the Field Representative expected to? In the life science marketplace, it is not as common to separate these activities. Researchers in the lab don’t respond well to phone interruptions. In other industries, its standard practice. Qualification is a different mindset than closing, and you will be more effective if separating the two, if your customers will accept it.

Is There any Value to Low Priority Leads?

Where do the low priority leads end up? First, are these really low priority leads or are they not being qualified effectively? If your lead form doesn’t ask the right qualification questions, it is probably harder to figure this out. If they truly are prospects that are not ready to purchase, start a conversation with them. Let them know how you can help them, not by focusing on products you can sell (they told you they aren’t ready) but by telling them about information resources you either have on your site or can link to. Start by becoming a trusted and valuable source of information and there is a better chance they will want to do business with you.

I’m a fan of letting field sales access all leads, including low priority, especially when you are still testing your process. However, make it clear what you want them to do with them. Some may want to contact these leads to avoid dealing with more tense selling situations. Many will want to follow up on any potential lead, especially if your qualification process is not trusted by the field or not effective. Let your sales team see the entire lead management process, where they fit, and why they will be more effective focusing on higher scored leads.

Feedback Loop

Set a timeline to review results with an eye toward revisions and sharing best practices. While it’s great to share stories about the sale won in a specific case, it’s critical to measure each step of the lead process and review what’s working and what is not. Facts are friendly and numbers should drive lead management decisions.

CRM systems are critical components to this process. There are many choices currently (way beyond the scope of this post) so that even small companies can use these tools. If your systems do not enable your organization to track leads and conversion easily and report results, you need to do some more work. If you have it but sales and marketing are not using it, well, you know you have some work to do.

Customer Expectations

I called my bank last week and gave my account number to the nice, automated voice prompt and endured a couple more menu options to talk to someone. Frustratingly, when I got to that live person, I had to repeat it the account information. Sure, maybe it’s an extra precaution, but if so, tell me that. I expected them to have my information at their fingertips, so we could immediately resolve the issue.

Few customers, especially in the B2B space, have time to chit-chat or even repeat themselves. They expect your company and its representatives to know about their account and interests when you contact them, especially when they have volunteered the information.

A successful lead management process will reinforce both sales and marketing buy-in to working together and will have an impact on sales. Even more importantly, it will help you shine in your customer’s eyes.

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