Lead Management

Best Practices in Lead Management

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The most crowded session I attended at Dreamforce 07 was Best Practices in Lead Management. The room was PACKED beyond capacity, and to make matters worse, the AC was broken so it was sweltering.

I was amazed to see how many B2B marketers endured the crowds and the heat to learn more about lead management best practices. In fact, pretty much all the Marketing Track sessions at Dreamforce were packed… which goes to show excited people are to learn more about B2B marketing!

In this session, the speakers included:

  • Tricia Reilly, Principal Consultant, Bluebird Marketing
  • Scott Keane, Sr. Director, Marketing Operations, salesforce.com
  • Tony Siconolfi, VP Inside Sales, myspace.com

I’ll be posting an interview with Tricia a little later. Here, I’ll share some tidbits from Scott’s discussion of salesforce.com’s own internal lead management processes.

What Is Lead Management?

One definition of lead management is:

  • Lead acquisition / data capture
  • Data cleansing and lead import
  • Lead distribution
  • Lead enrichment, scoring, and prioritization
  • Lead qualification and conversion / lead cultivation

(For another definition, see my prior post about lead management.)

Salesforce Lead Management Processes

At Salesforce, the Marketing Operations team’s job is to ensure they pass the correct leads to sales, and that the sales team has the pipeline they need to meet sales targets. Here are some interesting notes about salesforce.com’s lead management process:

  • Track “lead source” and “lead type”. This allows them to report on effectiveness by the channel and the offer.
  • Create detailed information to help sales follow-up from the campaign. At salesforce, Marketing provides detailed email templates and call scripts (including qualifying questions) to help the inside sales team follow-up from the campaign. They also indicate which product the customer is most likely to be interested in based on the campaign.
  • Assign leads based on open capacity. Leads get assigned to sales reps based on how many open leads are in each sales queue, ensuring a fair distribution while rewarding the most efficient reps with the most leads.
  • Adjust lead nurturing based on lead source. Salesforce tracks which lead sources and lead types show deeper engagement, and which are most likely to close. This allows them to tune their follow-on lead cultivation process accordingly. For example, leads that come from sources that are more likely to close get more follow-ups.
  • Define lead status values. This is important to track the stage – and therefore next best action – for each lead. Here are the lead status values Salesforce uses:
    • Open
    • Working – Deduped and attempted contact
    • Archived – No Interest
    • Archived – Developing / Nurturing
    • Bad Data
    • Contact – No Opportunity
    • Contact – Current Opportunity (e.g. Salesforce already has an active opportunity at this account, so don’t call them)
    • Contacted – Recent Activity (e.g. sales has contacted this person in the last 30 days, so no marketing contact)
    • Qualified – Turned into Opportunity
  • Inquiries from current customers are still leads. Salesforce treats inbound leads from current customers as new opportunities to cross-sell more to that customer, and those inquires go through the same lead process. Other companies might want the contact to go straight to the sales rep.
  • Report on lead inactivity. Salesforce has a report that track leads that get NO activity, which is a great way to see which leads aren’t being touched – and to “shame” the reps associated with those leads.
  • Balance conversion and qualification when using forms. As we all know, asking more questions on a landing page form decreases the conversion rate – but if the person really is a hot qualified lead, perhaps he or she would be willing to give additional information. So consider testing whether longer forms drive more sales-ready leads.

What’s on the mind of the B2B Marketer?

I found that the questions people asked during the Q&A period of the Lead Management session were an interesting view into what’s on the mind of today’s B2B marketer – and a strong validation of the need for the types of solutions we’re building here at Marketo. For example:

  • How can I track leads as they move through the qualification process? It’s really hard! That’s why you need a marketing funnel.
  • How can I report on all marketing activities that touch a lead, what impact each activity has? It’s really hard! That’s why you need tools for marketing ROI and accountability.
  • What should a company do with opportunities that the sales team does not accept? You need to nurture those leads!
  • What is the best way to compensate marketing, inside sales, and account executives? Align metrics and compensation so everyone is rewarded for impacting the bottom line, e.g. closed revenue.

What other questions are on your mind?