In last month’s blog post, we introduced the five core marketing processes essential to effective and efficient marketing operations. This month we will delve into the first, and most important of these processes, the lead management process.
I believe it is the most important because, if poorly designed and executed, marketing cannot accurately determine how many quality leads it is passing to the sales channels, and how much influence its activities are having on revenue. What could be more important than that?
List of Ingredients for an Effective Lead Management Process
The lead management process outlines the steps for tracking and reporting on leads as they are created and move through a funnel. During this process leads become qualified or disqualified, and eventually pass on to a lead development team and finally onto sales or channel partners.
A typical lead management process includes the following six components:
- Definition of a sales ready lead
- Definition of the various lead statuses in the CRM defined funnel
- Design of the lead processing, routing, and related notifications
- Design of the lead scoring algorithm
- Development and agreement on a service level agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing
- Establishment of funnel metrics
In the process of adding more detail behind each of these, I will include examples of these 7 egregious errors in each, and how to avoid them.
- Failure to involve sales in defining a sales ready lead
- Failure to add lead status values for purchased list imports
- Inclusion of call dispositions as lead status values
- Failing to create and use a contact status field
- Failing to periodically review and refresh the lead scoring algorithm
- Failure to measure and enforce the sales and marketing SLA
- Funnel metrics that fail to account for unusual lead flow patterns
Definition of a Sales Ready Lead
Simply put, if you are in demand generation, your output is largely sales ready leads that have the potential to become opportunities for the sales channel. As such, you absolutely require an agreement between sales and marketing as to what constitutes a sales ready lead. And the error too many firms make is allowing marketing to decide what constitutes a sales ready lead all by themselves.
The result is that junk leads from events and the website are tossed over the fence to sales, who quickly recognize them for what they are, and learn to ignore leads from marketing.
It is very important to get sales people and sales management in the room with marketing and knock out a definition that both can live with. Marketing may not be able to get the B.A.N.T. criteria (budget, authority, need, time frame) without the help of lead development reps (LDRs). So what info can marketing solicit through forms, data appending, firmagraphics and observed behavioral data? What info does a LDR have to add? All of this info will inform the lead scoring algorithm discussed below.
Definition of Lead Statuses
Ah yes, you might think this one is easy, take the standard set of values including Inquiry, MQL, SAL, SQL, and Disqualified, and we’re done … right? Wrong. There are a couple of errors here that I see too often.