Lead Management

Lead Management Tips and Ideas

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I recently had the opportunity to speak with Tricia Reilly about trends in lead management software. Tricia was one of the speakers at Best Practices in Lead Management, a B2B marketing session at salesforce.com’s recent user conference.

A veteran in the field of lead management, Tricia currently heads up Bluebird Marketing, whose services include helping companies optimize the Marketing aspect of their salesforce.com deployments, and designing and implementing lead management campaigns. Before Bluebird, she spent several years as Senior Manager of Global Lead Generation at Genesys Telecommunications Labs.

Below, find an excerpt of my interview with Tricia.

Jon: Tricia, how would you define lead management?

Tricia: Lead management is the set of systems and processes that encompass the entire customer buying process.It begins with the customer’s identification of their buying need and moving on to identify you as a prospective vendor.

For the vendor, it’s the internal processes within an organization where you qualify leads, nurture leads, enrich leads and ultimately score the lead to see whether it is sales ready.

Jon: So it really covers everything from how do you meet, develop, score, route and close the lead?

Tricia: Absolutely, especially closing the lead.

Also, reporting on the entire process is really important and I think it’s a piece that is frequently overlooked by marketers. Measuring each step of that sales waterfall is important, since we must be able to figure out where we are losing people, at what conversion point are people dropping off and how to optimize each of those stages.

Jon: What types of programs are you seeing work best today in terms of lead generation?

Tricia: It’s really all about the offer. For instance, can you provide any type of educational value or access to your product in a trial? If so, that’s where you’re going to get the highest response.

The best practice here is more of a pull than a push, providing what your prospect is actively searching for. I think you can’t get a hotter prospect than that.

Jon: That is the great thing about search, you’re finding someone when they are looking for what you have. Of course, the downside of search is that you find people that are in the research stage, not when they are in the buying stage.

Tricia: Absolutely, that’s where a really strong lead nurturing program can really help get the most out of those leads. You are already spending money to generate that type of raw response or lead so it’s worth investing a little bit more to nurture that prospect. It educates them about what your product or service is, what differentiates you from the competition, and why they really need it.

What I like to tell people is that lead nurturing is about matching the prospect’s expectations with the sales rep’s expectations; you want the prospect to be ready and willing to speak to the sales rep when that lead gets handed to sales.

Jon: What process do you recommend companies go through in order to define what is a sales ready lead?

Tricia: The most important thing is that Sales and Marketing work together to define what a sales ready lead is. I believe that there is actually a lead spectrum, there isn’t just one definition of a lead. Depending on what your market conditions are, what your company’s like, what time is available, and what your pipeline looks like, you may want to shift the needle on that spectrum of where your marketing qualified leads are at.

What used to be an A lead may now be a B lead and vice versa and you may need to move that dial to accommodate shifts in the market or shifts in your organization or your sales force.

Jon: You talk about A leads and B leads, how should companies think about scoring these leads and figuring out who are the hot prospects and who aren’t?

Tricia: I think every different company is going to have their own idea about to what extent they’re going to score leads. Many companies don’t have the infrastructure in place to create scores using prospect behaviors.

I think it’s great if you can map user behavior, for instance, what someone is doing on your website, areas of the site they are going to, whether or not they are opening your e-mails and whether or not they are completing your landing pages.

A true score should take into account the prospect’s interest level defined not just by their words but their actions. Frequently, as you know, people’s actions speak louder than their words, and the two are often not in concert. So it’s very important to observe user behavior and score accordingly.

Learn more about Tricia and her firm at www.bluebirdmarcom.com.