Five Ways to Improve Your Lead Management

Marketing departments perform many tasks throughout the year: hiring good talent, keeping quality employees, choosing the right communications strategy, improving ROI, and generating higher quality leads for Sales. With increasing competition and diminishing budgets, achieving these goals is becoming increasingly difficult.

Fortunately, there is a crucial step that marketing departments can take to have a positive impact on the outcome of their initiatives for the year: deploying an effective lead-management process.

I’m not a big fan of sports analogies, but I recently heard one that I think would help put this into context. Think of an NFL quarterback… say Dan Marino, who holds over 25 NFL passing records. Over his career, Dan completed 4,967 passes to over 30 different receivers. Many would say his success was due to his tremendous talent and work ethic, and that would be true. However, Dan’s success was also largely dependant on his receivers’ ability to be in the right place, at the right time, and catch those passes. Without such receivers, many of those 4,967 would have been incomplete.

A similar relationship exists between today’s Marketing and Sales departments, with Marketing as the quarterback and Sales as the receiver.

However, according to a recent Gartner study, “up to 70% of sales leads are not properly leveraged or are completely ignored, thus wasting marketing program dollars.”

The marketing-to-sales process is often not closely examined prior to the development of a lead-generation program designed to drive meaningful results. In my professional experience, over half of all business-to-business organizations have a suboptimal or nonexistent lead-management process. Surprisingly, that is the case regardless of the size of an organization, whether it has $500,000 or $500 million in revenue.

How can you identify whether an effective lead-management process can improve your bottom line? Ask yourself these questions about your marketing and sales departments:

  • Is there a consensus from sales and marketing to what a “qualified” lead is?
  • Does Sales complain about (or neglect) the leads it receives?
  • Can you confirm that Sales has followed up with each lead it has received?
  • Is there a process in place for Sales to provide feedback to Marketing?
  • Can you differentiate between what type of leads close the fastest, and for the highest amount of revenue and profit?
  • What combination of touches provides the most effective leads for Sales?
  • Is there a mechanism for Sales to pass leads back to marketing for further nurturing, or do they simply get dropped?

Outlined below are five of the most common ways companies can improve their lead management.

No. 1: Communication, Communication, Communication

Though the sales and marketing departments’ view of the world may be at odds with each other, you must create an environment where they can communicate—often, and in a non-adversarial way. Marketing can spend $10,000 or $100,000 generating leads, but at North American businesses on average up to 70% of that investment is completely wasted as a result of no follow-up by Sales.

No. 2: Consensus on a Process

There is little value to a Marketing-generated “hot lead” if Sales views it as a “cold unqualified lead” and declines to follow up. To optimize your lead-generation initiatives, Sales and Marketing must agree on the following:

  • The formal definition of a qualified lead
  • When and how leads will be transferred to Sales
  • How quickly Sales will engage qualified leads
  • What type of feedback Sales will provide marketing on leads
  • What type of metrics Marketing will give to Sales on efficacy of campaigns

No. 3: Know the Sales Process

In most effective sales organizations, the sales force adheres to a standard set of practices that pertains to sales stages, training, forecasting, quota, bonuses, activity levels and how they pursue and generate leads.

A considerable amount of time is spent training and developing these sale processes, yet Marketing rarely has a firm grasp on how or why salespeople perform their duties. Yet, without that knowledge, how can marketers possibly expect Sales to take them (or their leads) seriously?

Ask yourself, when is the last time a member of your marketing team was seen in the “sales pit” or on sales calls? If you can’t remember… it’s been too long.

No. 4: Develop and Implement a Lead Scoring System

Frequently, marketers classify leads as “A, B and C leads.” Unfortunately, all Sales hears is “A and F leads.” As a result, up to 70% of leads are ignored. And while this system of lead classification may work marginally on smaller ticket items with short sales cycles, what if your sales process is 6, 9 even 12 months or longer?

What happens if an “A lead” is transferred to Sales but is not ready to buy for 12-18 months? Does this lead automatically become an “F lead” and is callously discarded, even though the prospect will most likely buy in the future?

To help alleviate this challenge, develop a lead scoring system that takes into account (1) your average transaction size, (2) sales cycle length, (3) how your salespeople are measured and (4) how Sales treats delayed opportunities.

No. 5: Nurture Leads Not Ready for Sales

Below is a general template of an optimal lead-generation process; we refer to it as the RubiconWay. It incorporates the previously mentioned elements and a Lead Nurturing cycle. The nurturing of leads takes place both prior to and post sales force engagement.

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Click to enlarge

Prior to sales force engagement, leads are engaged via multi-touch campaigns until their score is high enough to be handed over as qualified opportunities. If a qualified opportunity is not ready to immediately buy within a designated timeframe, the lead is handed back to Marketing to be further nurtured and measured against a lead scoring system that takes into account the purchase timeframe variables.

* * *

By implementing these key strategies, your marketing organization will be well on its way to optimizing lead generation, maximizing sales revenue, and improving marketing results.

via http://www.marketingprofs.com/6/moreau1.asp?sp=1

Terrific Twitter Tips

Follow these tips for maximum networking benefits through Twitter.

1. Branch out: Don’t settle for tweeting with only those in your address book. Search for people with similar interests and people in your industry or city.

2. Don’t just offer your content: By joining the greater conversation, you’ll make more meaningful relationships.

3. Be engaged: Tweet often so you don’t get forgotten.

4. Search for the right people: Conduct a Twitter search for conversations you’d be able to help with or that advertise jobs.

5. Follow who your friends follow: Check out who you’re friends are following and sending @ messages to. They’ll get the connection and probably have something in common with you, too.

6. Follow people back: You don’t have to follow every single person who follows you back, but make a point to follow a good percentage of them.

7. Link to others: Tweet other people’s blog posts and links to spread the love and catch the attention of industry leaders.

8. Promote yourself: Post links to your work and don’t be afraid to promote yourself in a responsible, non-annoying way.

9. Share using @: Include your most wanted Twitterers in a conversation by using @ and then their name. They’ll notice you, too.

10. Tweetup: Suggest a Twitter happy hour or picnic to meet your local Twitter friends and extend your networking opportunities.

For more.. http://www.mbajobs.net/blog/2009/50-terrific-twitter-tips-for-job-seekers/

Bedroom Startups

The latest cost-slashing trend for the geekerati? Taking a page from the past (think Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard) and bunking together to get their startups off the ground. According to adherents, “going lightweight” cuts monthly expenses by up to two-thirds. “We looked at the economy and said, ‘This is the right thing for us to do,'” says Adam Bouhenguel, who lives in a “super-geeked-out” Boston apartment with Josh Wilson, his co-founder at Tsumobi.com, a maker of social networking software for mobile devices. Also in Boston are Dan Haubert, 25, and Tom Davis, 24, who moved in together to launch TicketStumbler.com, which aims to be the Expedia (EXPE) of sports and concert tickets. The “ugly dump,” says Haubert, lets them “live and run a business on a few thousand a month.” Then there’s Marcus Nelson, 37, who co-founded UserVoice.com, an online suggestion box. Last year, Nelson, his wife, Emily, and their two children moved from Wasau, Wis., to a Santa Cruz (Calif.) beach bungalow with partner Richard White, 28. “We sleep with our laptops,” says Nelson, who estimates that monthly expenses come to $15,000, a third of what they might be with separate living and office spaces. Are venture capitalists taking note of such frugalities? Longtime Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway says he is: “I love to invest in scrappy entrepreneurs.”

via BTW – BusinessWeek.

Jumping off a cliff

Starting off a business is much like jumping off a cliff. Similar to a cliff, entrepreneurship presents fears and emotions which prohibit lots of us to take the jump.

I would like to present some of the fears / concerns that I had and would like to get your opinion on those..

I want to jump off a cliff, So..

1. How do I begin?

2. How do I choose my cliff?

3. Should I jump alone?

4. How do I make my jump easier? Should I have a waterbed / tied rope?

5. After I have jumped one cliff.. what should I do? jump another one? tell people how to jump?

Please feel free to share views.. humorous / serious / experiences.. all are welcome.

Need not be answers alone.. Can be more questions as well.

I would be collating the best views and publish it for lots of people like me who are looking for answers for the same..

via Insight : Jumping off a cliff.

Lead Management System vs. CRM

To a lay person, the two solutions are similar. But for a marketing/sales manager, these are two are different worlds altogether. Below is a brief..

The essential difference is the difference between a “prospect” and a “customer”.

A prospect is one who hasn’t yet taken your product/service.

Customer is one who has already taken your product/service.

Now its natural that managing these two entities would be very different.

Some of the prime differences are:

1. With a prospect, you’d require much smoother followups.

2. A prospect requires more frequent interactions.

3. The ways in which you reach a prospect is much more than how you reach a customer.

4. A professional face is extremely important to a prospect, since mostly it would be the first impression that would be defining the outcome.

A complete CRM solution, helps you work with your customers. Though converting “prospects” to “customers” needs special attention and a tailor-made solution.

A Lead Management System should help you keep a track of your leads, assign them to right people & help you follow-up at the right time and make the most of every lead you get.

In an effort to cater to this need, we at Quads have come up with a solution called Lead Simplified(www.leadsimplified.com).

Its a simple to use and neat solution, tailored for Indian Market.

Well.. Every business knows that prospects come first.

via Trends : Lead Management System vs. CRM.

Guys, we need to achieve whats never been done.

Guys, we need to achieve whats never been done.

Have you ever had your boss tell your team these words? Most Probably sometime in your career you have..

What does the team think when they see their manager deliver this speech?

The team looks at the manager and thinks,

Is he himself part of this delivering process?

How much of an effort is he going to put into this?

What happens to him if it is done?

What happens if we don’t achieve it?

Then comes the question.. whats in it for me?

Most of the time today’s managers faulter, and try to answer the last question first.

This is the outcome:

Over the ages, this has been an efficient means of motivating a team. A team needs a common goal. This makes the individual differences look small and the bonding begins. A common goal is extremely important.

By making a common goal look individual, the manager not only cuts down the efficiency of that person, he cuts down the efficiency of the team as well.

One should put himself first and take my word, the team would follow. Thats the inherent nature of a team.

That I would say is the difference between a manager and a leader.