IDC recently released their 2012 CMO Advisory Service Best Practices Series: Realizing the Vision of the 21st Century Lead Management. The study surveys marketing professionals and demand generation executives at Avaya, CA Technologies, CSC, Datacore, Dell, Fairchild Semiconductor, HP, Juniper Networks,MathWorks, NetApp, PerkinElmer, Rackspace, Red Hat, Taleo, and VMware, to help provide best practices to help marketing professionals examine and refine their lead management practices. Here are some questions that IDC sought to answer with their survey:
How do leading companies staff and organize teams for effective lead management?
As marketing becomes more complex and more technical, the talent pool narrows. You have to make sure that you hire the right candidates with a mix of creativity, communication, and technical aptitude. According to the companies surveyed, here are some key attributes and skills that you need to think about when looking for your team:
- Process and systems thinker: comfortable working in complex environments, process oriented, and able to conceptualize the entire lead life-cycle.
- Service oriented: patient, great communicator, executive facing, customer focused.
- Detailed and analytical: understands numbers, data aware, understands the need for measurable processes, detail oriented, project manager
- Passionate and a problem solver: enthusiastic about relevant topic or skill, pushes boundaries, intelligent, likes to learn, wants to be the best
- Marketing and sales: has knowledge about both. Understands campaign and pipeline flow.
- Data: needs several kinds of data capabilities. Understands how to extract and analyze data.
- Automation: an understanding of CRM and marketing automation applications are critical. Technical background is important.
What lead management techniques do companies use for optimizing performance and velocity of their pipeline?
In today’s intricate market and buyer environment, long term success requires a new approach to lead management. Here are some of the top lead management techniques and workflows that the companies surveyed reported at effective:
- Strategic planning: first determine the number and attributes of leads needed to achieve business goals. Determine pipeline inventory models and campaign schedules. You also will want to define standards, data, procedures, and systems.
- Capture: make sure you have a lead management system in place to ensure that you are capturing necessary lead information. Data services such as filtering and de-duping are essential to ensure that contacts are managed and that your data is clean.
- Assess (qualify): question, filter, and prioritize. Gather all sufficient information to determine how well the lead fits into the target persona. This makes marketing and sales more relevant. Scoring is also critical at this stage to determine how ready a lead is to buy and when it should be sent to sales.
- Advance (route): direct and expedite the flow of leads and opportunities to the right person so that the right sort of development can happen. Each time an assessment happens, the lead should be routed to the right person or system for follow-up. Service Level Agreements are a best practice here.
- Develop (nurture): promote prospects through the buying cycle by providing the right communication and engagement at each step. Lead nurture campaigns using thought leadership content is a key element here. Just remember, nurturing is not only for top-of-the-funnel leads, it is also for customers as well for systematic and continuous engagement across your pipeline.
- Close: make sure that all lead opportunities are terminated with a win or a loss status, recycled into your nurturing program, or retired.
- Monitor, measure and analyze: use the data collected through your marketing automation system and various pipeline activities to provide a clear picture of your current situation. Make sure you are keeping track of full lead life-cycle data through collecting, analyzing, predicting, forecasting, and management reporting.
What lead management metrics are most used?
Data always needs to be collected to optimize your lead management practices and to prove ROI of your programs. IDC determines what metrics both the executive and practitioner aspire to include on their dashboards:
- Predictive ROI
- More standardization of reports across groups
- More accurate closed loop reporting
- Real-time reports
- More report automation
- Tactical success
- Sales alignment success
- Productivity improvement
Are you utilizing something similar to IDC’s 21st century pipeline management model in your marketing? We would love to hear about it!