I have seen many attempts to implement an effective lead conversion process in salesforce.
Not all of them successful.
That is putting it mildly.
In fact, businesses can often mangle their lead conversion process in salesforce.
The result is:
- Reduced sales, because leads get lost.
- Unnecessary friction between Sales and Marketing.
- Lack of meaningful metrics on the efficacy of marketing campaigns.
This happens because companies are often unaware of lead conversion best practices in salesforce.
Salesforce Lead Conversion Best Practices
Therefore, here are five Salesforce Lead Conversion Best Practices for Sales and Marketing teams.
- Create an opportunity during lead conversion.
- Convert before passing to Sales.
- Convert leads when they are sales-ready, not before.
- Compare win rates on converted leads with standard opportunities.
- Insist upon feedback from Sales on every converted lead.
I explain specifically why these guidelines are best practices for lead conversion in salesforce.
I’ll also explain the circumstances when it’s right to NOT to follow these best practices,
Struggling with sales and marketing alignment? These lead conversion best practices contribute directly to Recommendation 2 in our 5 Sales and Marketing Alignment Recommendations That Nail It
Best Practices #1: Create an Opportunity
When converting a lead you have a choice.
Create an opportunity or not?
Here’s what I mean.
Ticking the ‘Do not create a new opportunity upon conversion’ checkbox means creating an Account and Contact only.
No Opportunity arrives on the scene. At least, not during lead conversion.
Here is salesforce lead conversion best practice #1:
Create an Opportunity when the Lead is converted. Do not check the ‘Do Not Create Opportunity’ checkbox.
The exception to this is when converting a Lead into a matching Account and Contact that already exists. I deal with this exception below.
However, if you are converting a new lead, it’s best practice to simultaneously create a new opportunity.
Create the opportunity upon conversion – Rationale
Two important pieces of information transfer from the lead to the opportunity when you create an opportunity during lead conversion.
Firstly, the Lead Source on the lead maps to the equivalent field on the opportunity. This means you can produce reports and dashboard charts on the contribution of different Lead Sources to revenue.
Here’s an example of the open pipeline by Lead Source.
Secondly, the Opportunity links to the last marketing campaign to which the lead responded. This means metrics from the opportunity pass to the campaign.
These metrics mean you can track the contribution of each marketing campaign to the sales pipeline and revenue growth.
For example, here’s the pipeline by Campaign.
Opportunities not created upon lead conversion
Remember, we are talking about new leads here; not leads that match existing Accounts and Contacts. More on that in a moment.
Here’s what happens in some businesses.
The lead converts with the ‘Do not create opportunity’ checkbox ticked.
The lead converts to an Account and a Contact only.
The salesperson follows up. Once the sales cycle starts to progress, the salesperson creates an opportunity.
Unfortunately, the two pieces of information that inform marketing effectiveness are lost.
In other words, the Lead Source does not pass to the opportunity. The opportunity does not link to the Campaign.
These linkages only occur when the lead conversion creates the opportunity otherwise there is no closed loop reporting from the opportunity to the campaign.
Exceptions to best practices #1
This salesforce lead conversion best practice doesn’t apply in every situation.
Sometimes, there are legitimate reasons not to create an opportunity.
For example, let’s say an existing contact downloads an eBook from your website. You capture their email address in a web to lead form as part of the download process.
Salesforce creates a lead when the web-to-lead form passes through the data.
Here is what to do.
Use the Find Duplicates button to find matching Leads and Contacts.
Next, convert the lead.
Let’s say you decide there is no new opportunity. Alternatively, there may already be an open opportunity on the Account that’s in progress.
This time, check the ‘Do not create opportunity’ checkbox.
Salesforce recognizes there’s an existing match on the Account.
Salesforce also presents the option to merge the lead data into an existing Contact.
No new opportunity is created.
However, the campaign information passes to the Contact. This means you can see the campaign history on the Contact.
Further reading on lead conversion best practices #1
This blog post describes a Marketing Dashboard for salesforce that gives examples of the reports and charts using Lead Source and Campaigns.
Use the dashboard to generate powerful insight on marketing effectiveness in your business.
Best practices #2: Convert before passing to Sales
Best practice #1 status says create opportunities when the lead converts.
Who should do the converting?
Here are your choices.
- Option 1. The marketing or inside sales team convert the lead and pass the Account, Contact
and Opportunity to sales.
- Option 2. The lead passes to sales and the salesperson converts the lead to an Account, Contact and Opportunity.
This is lead conversion best practices #2:
As a rule, have marketing or inside sales convert the lead and pass the Account, Contact and Opportunity to sales.
This is why you should adopt salesforce lead conversion best practices #2.
- The risk that lead conversion best practices #1 is broken, reduces significantly.
- Valuable sales time is not spent re-qualifying leads. An opportunity is a more concrete manifestation of a potential sales deal.
- Qualifying leads and judging when to convert the lead, is a skill in its own right. If you are doing this day-in- day-out then you are likely to be better at it than the average salesperson.
Converting leads before passing to sales gives a clear delineation between roles.
Centralizing this activity within marketing or an inside sales team also means tighter control of conversion processes and lead follow up activities.
However, implementing best practices #2 means there must be clear agreement between sales, marketing and inside sales on when leads should convert.
It also requires a robust process and unambiguous configuration in salesforce to support this process.
Exceptions to best practices #2
In small companies, the marketing, inside sales and salesperson may be one person.
In this case, this salesforce lead conversion best practice tip does not apply.
However, in larger businesses, where these functions are separated, it is generally better for leads to be converted before they’re passed to sales.
Further reading on lead conversion best practices #2
We explain the lead conversion process in detail. It includes process diagrams that you can download and use to kick-start your lead conversion arrangements.
Best practices #3: Convert leads when sales-ready
When is the right time to convert a lead?
That’s one of the great business challenges of our time.
Here is lead conversion best practices #3. It’s the Goldilocks advice:
Convert the lead when the person is sales-ready. Not too warm and not too cold. In other words, when the lead is ready to speak to a salesperson.
Of course, this begs the question:
How do we know when the lead is sales-ready?
Sometimes it’s easy.
A lead fills in a web form requesting a call. You’re quickly going to ascertain whether there is a potential sales opportunity. If so, convert the lead straight away.
However, here is the mistake I often see.
Leads convert and pass to sales far too quickly.
The marketing department of one of our clients ran a webinar.
They got an astonishing 800 registrants. 400 people attended the live session.
Marketing immediately passed the leads to sales.
“It will be like shooting fish in a barrel,” said the VP of Marketing.
Only it wasn’t. In fact, hardly any deals materialised.
Many of the leads were not sales-ready. They attended the webinar for early-stage education. They did not immediately want to buy.
In addition, sales were ill-equipped to suddenly deal with 4 to 800 new leads.
Here are three factors that influence lead conversion timing:
- Channel. An inbound phone enquiry is at one of the scale. Leads from a purchased list are at the
- Market maturity. Leads will generally convert more quickly in companies that are transforming marketplaces with new, innovative products unfamiliar to buyers. If you operate in a mature marketplace with lots of competitors, it will be longer before leads are sales-ready.Engagement. For this, you ideally need a marketing automation platform such as Marketo or Pardot integrated with salesforce. These applications help you quantify more scientifically when leads are kept sales-ready.
Few people ask their partner or spouse to move in at the first sign of interest. It’s the same with leads.
Convert the lead when there is evidence of commitment.
Recommended reading on lead conversion best practices #3
Best practices #4: Compare win rates
Is all this effort worth it?
Do the converted leads contribute anything to revenue?
That’s a mystery in most companies.
However, here’s an example of a salesforce dashboard chart and report that compares sales revenue from converted leads with opportunities created directly on Accounts.
The chart and report put the contribution of converted leads into perspective.
Now go further.
Here’s salesforce lead conversion best practices #4:
Compare win rates on opportunities from converted leads with opportunities created directly on Accounts.
Here’s an example:
Apply this salesforce lead conversion best practice to create high impact, actionable insight in your business.
Want to create these dashboard charts in your business. Easy.
Simply install the free Lead Conversion Dashboard From GSP directly from the AppExchange.
Recommended reading on lead conversion best practices #4
Best practices #5: Insist on qualitative feedback
The lead conversion metrics in best practices #4 deliver powerful quantitative insight.
So far so good.
For maximum benefit, insist upon salesforce lead conversion best practices #5:
Transfer qualitative feedback from Sales to Marketing or Inside Sales on every single converted lead.
Use Chatter to capture this feedback.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
This feedback means sales and marketing collaborate on continuous improvement in lead qualification and nurture.
Put in place a process in which sales managers and marketing team leaders review this feedback.
Examine the qualitative feedback in conjunction with the lead conversion metrics from best practices #4.
It’s a sure-fire way to continually improve the efficacy of marketing campaigns and decision making on when to convert leads.
A Call To Action
These five salesforce lead conversion best practices have helped many organizations implement robust lead management processes.
The result is far superior sales and marketing alignment.
The means higher opportunity win rates and increased revenue.
You can apply all of these best practices in your business.
Get in touch. We will provide a 30-minute free consultation to help improve lead conversion in your business. Simply fill in our contact form here.
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