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Drive Lead Conversion Success With Fresh Insight | Webinar

Drive Lead Conversion Success With Fresh Insight | Webinar

Join me and my team for a compelling webinar on power Lead Metrics in salesforce.

We promise you will get fresh insights.

As a result of this webinar you will be able to take new action to drive lead conversion rates in your business.

Date: November 1st, 2017
Time: 11 AM EST, 4 PM GMT
To join: Register here today.

Lead Conversion Success Webinar Topics

The topics we will cover include:

• How to implement a robust lead management process.
• Measuring the revenue contribution of converted leads.
• Track key metrics to improve lead performance.
• Compare win rates on opportunities created from converted leads.
• How to analyse lead performance from multiple angles and identify improvements.

The webinar will give you a unique understanding of lead metrics in salesforce. You will gain new, specific actions to increase revenue from leads that you can immediately apply in your business.

You will, of course, have the opportunity to ask questions.

We are limited to 80 places on the webinar. Don’t miss out. Register today.

I’m looking forward to you joining us.

Lead Conversion In Salesforce | 5 Proven Best Practices

Lead Conversion In Salesforce | 5 Proven Best Practices

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.

  1. Create an opportunity during lead conversion.
  2. Convert before passing to Sales.
  3. Convert leads when they are sales-ready, not before.
  4. Compare win rates on converted leads with standard opportunities.
  5. 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

Update: Join me for a compelling webinar on November 1, 2017 on Lead Conversion Success.

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.

#1 of the salesforce lead conversion best practices: Do not check the ‘Do Not Create Opportunity’ checkbox.

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.

Example of the open pipeline by Lead Source that is enabled by lead conversion best practice #1.

Secondly, the Opportunity links to the last marketing campaign to which the lead responded. This means metrics from the opportunity pass to the campaign.

In #1 of lead conversion best practices, 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.

Lead conversion best practice #1 means the pipeline by Campaign can be displayed on a salesforce dashboard chart.

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.

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.

During the lead conversion, Salesforce recognizes there’s an existing match on the Account.

Salesforce also presents the option to merge the lead data into an existing Contact.

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.

After the lead conversion, 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.

CLICK TO SHARE ON LinkedIn: Lead Conversion Best Practices #1

Best practices #2: Convert before passing to Sales

Best practice #1 status says create opportunities when the lead converts.

Next question.

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.

CLICK TO SHARE ON LinkedIn: Lead Conversion Best Practices #2

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.

An example:

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
    other.
  • 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

Why Sales Complain About Marketing Leads

CLICK TO SHARE ON LinkedIn: 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.

Salesforce lead conversion best practices #4 allows you to track the contribution of converted leads.

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:

Win rates compared of converted leads versus direct opportunities.

Apply this salesforce lead conversion best practice to create high impact, actionable insight in your business.

Recommended reading on lead conversion best practices #4

7 Lead Conversion Metrics You Should Be Tracking (But Probably Aren’t)

SHARE ON LinkedIn: 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.

Lead conversion best practices #5 recommends transferring qualitative feedback from sales to marketing.

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

Update: Join me for a compelling webinar on November 1, 2017 on Lead Conversion Success.

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.

But wait.

There’s more.

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.

Got value from these lead conversion best practices? Please help us spread the word by sharing on your favorite social media channel!

7 Lead Conversion Metrics You Should Be Tracking (But Probably Aren’t)

7 Lead Conversion Metrics You Should Be Tracking (But Probably Aren’t)

Your business puts a lot of effort into generating converted Leads.

However, are they worth their salt?

Do the leads passed from Marketing to Sales contribute revenue?

In most businesses, it is only possible to answer these questions using anecdotal evidence.

Indeed, very often I find businesses are poor at tracking lead conversion metrics. They know how many leads convert to opportunities, but that’s pretty much it.

Unfortunately, this means they are unable to figure out how to optimize revenue from converted leads. They don’t know what is working and what is not.

This also means they do not realize when marketing and sales time waste time on non-productive leads.

However, to do this you need to monitor more than simply the number of converted leads.

Fortunately, lead conversion metrics are easy to implement.

I’ll show you seven lead conversion metrics your business should be tracking today.

At the end of this blog post I’ve included step by step instructions on how to create the underlying indicator that allows you to track these lead conversion metrics.

One final thing before we move on. These metrics assume you have a solid lead conversion process in place. This includes a hand-off process from marketing to sales that ensures leads do not fall between the cracks. Use this blog post for advice on implementing a robust lead conversion process.

Update: Join me for a compelling webinar on November 1, 2017 on Lead Conversion Success.

What is a Converted Lead?

Let us be clear what we are talking about here.

Lead conversion occurs when one person (often in Marketing) ‘converts’ an existing lead into an Account, Contact and Opportunity. The Opportunity passes to the sales team to begin the sales process. This defines a converted lead.

Diagram summarizing lead conversion process. This process is the basis for creating the lead conversion metrics.Opportunities for new customers are usually created from a converted lead.

For example, a potential customer downloads an eBook. The prospect receives emails over time providing educational material and the relationship deepens.

The person eventually receives a qualification call. If the lead is ‘qualified’ then an opportunity is created and passed to a salesperson.

Contrast this with opportunities for existing customers. In these cases, the salesperson creates an Opportunity directly on the Account record.Diagram summarizing the process for creating an opportunity directly on an Account.No lead is involved. The opportunity is linked to an existing customer or prospect Account.

Lead Conversion Metrics

Here are the seven lead conversion metrics I recommend.

1 – Contribution of Converted Leads

2 – Win Rates of Converted Leads

3 – Average Deal Size of Converted Leads

4 – Win Rates by Opportunity Owner

5 – Win Rates by Lead Owner

6 – Win Rates by Lead Source

7 – Win Rates by Campaign

Let us examine each lead conversion metric to understand how it contributes to increased revenue.

 

1 – Revenue Contribution of Converted Leads

This metric quantifies the contribution of converted leads. It shows the overall contribution of converted leads to total revenue.

Lead conversion metric #1 - contribution of converted leads to revenue.

The green column in the dashboard chart shows the $ revenue contribution of opportunities derived from converted leads.

The blue column is the revenue from opportunities created directly on existing Accounts.

Looking at the underlying report, we can see that overall, converted leads contribute 33% of revenue.

Here’s the key thing about this lead conversion report and chart.

It gives you context for the other lead conversion metrics that follow.

For example, whether the figure of 33% is good or bad depends upon the context of your business. If you are a new, start-up company, you might expect the contribution from converted leads to be higher.

In a well-established, mature company, the figure may be lower if a significant proportion of revenue comes from repeat business with existing customers.

Remember, you can adjust the report to analyse the numbers further. For example, there may be significant variations by geographical territory or industry.

Use the report and dashboard chart to identify a ratio that doesn’t ‘look right’ within the context of your business. Then review the seven lead conversion metrics to investigate further.

 

2 – Win Rates of Converted Leads versus Not Converted

In this first lead conversion metric, we’re comparing the win rate of opportunities that came from converted leads versus those opportunities created on existing Accounts.

Remember, a converted lead will result in a new Account.

An existing customer, and some prospects, will already exist as Accounts.

In this case, we are comparing opportunities that started life as a lead, with those opportunities that the salesperson linked to an existing customer or prospect.

The win rate defines the ratio of won versus lost deals in a given period.

Lead conversion metric #2 - win rates on converted leads and direct opportunities.

In fact, we have two lead conversion metrics here.

  • Win Rate by Count. This compares the number of deals won and lost.
  • Win Rate by Amount. This compares the value of deals won and lost.

In our example, we can see that the win rates for converted leads is lower that the win rate for direct opportunities.

The chart also shows that for converted leads, the win rate by Amount is higher than the win rate by Count. This means a successful outcome on higher value deals is achieved more often compared to lower value deals.

The situation for opportunities not created from converted leads reverses.

A greater proportion of lower value deals are successfully won. We can see this because the win rate by Count is greater than the win rate by Amount.

In many ways, we might expect this.

Converted leads will usually relate to new customers. It’s reasonable to expect the win rate for new customers to be lower than the win rate for existing customers.

Similarly, many deals with existing customers may be for add-ons, repeat purchases or other regular orders that may have a lower value than first-time opportunities.

Think about these numbers in the context of your business.

Does a low win rate on opportunities from converted leads indicate that leads are not being properly qualified? Alternatively, are salespeople focusing too much on existing customers, where we naturally expect the win rate to be higher?

 

3 – Average Deal Size of Converted Leads

This lead conversion metric compares the average size of deals that came from converted leads with opportunities created directly on the Account.

In many businesses, it may be reasonable to expect the average deal size of opportunities from converted leads to be higher. This is because a significant proportion of opportunities on existing Accounts are smaller, repeat business deals.

Lead conversion metric #3 - average deal size on converted leads.

In other businesses, the reverse may be true. For example, if your approach is ‘land-and-expand’, then new customer deals may be smaller, or even trials and prototypes.

Again, interpret the numbers in the context of your business. If appropriate, customize the report to examine this lead conversion metric by sales team, geography or other variable.

 

4 – Win Rate by Opportunity Owner

The lead conversion metric compares the win rate for different salespeople.

In our example, it shows that Geoff has a significantly higher win rate on converted leads compared to Lars.

Lead conversion metric #4 - win rates by opportunity owner.

Indeed, Geoff is successfully winning a greater proportion of opportunities that arose from converted leads (green bar) compared to opportunities created directly on the Account (blue bar).

There may be many reasons for this.

For example:

  • Does Geoff follow up more proactively on converted leads?
  • Does Geoff get fewer leads, but of much higher quality?
  • Is Geoff paying insufficient attention to existing customers?

Like other lead conversion metrics, the figures do not tell us what management action to take.  Rather, they tell us there is a variation in performance that is worthy of investigation.

It’s the outcome of that investigation that enables us to decide the right action.

Use this blog post for more advice on measuring sales team win rates.

 

5 – Win Rate by Lead Owner

The previous lead conversion metrics shows the win rate for converted lead and direct opportunities by opportunity owner.

Let us look now from a different perspective.

Many businesses have an inside sales team or other person responsible for making qualification calls to leads.

These people aim to create meetings for the sales rep, whether internally or field based.

Therefore, we need to understand how effective different inside sales reps are at creating good quality opportunities.

The lead conversion metric examines performance by lead owner.

Lead conversion metric #4 - win rates by lead owner.

A point to note. The win rate by Lead Owner metric shows the opportunity win rate based on Lead Owner at the time of conversion. This is not necessarily the person that converted the lead. However, we are assuming for the purposes of this lead conversion metric that the lead ‘owner’ and ‘converter’ are the same person.

In our example, we can see that a significantly higher proportion of the converted leads owned by Nick have a successful outcome to those owned by Tim.

Does this mean Nick is doing a better job of warming-up these leads as part of the qualification process? Is Tim converting too many, low quality leads? Alternatively, can Nick help to increase sales by lowering his ‘qualification threshold’ and increasing the number of leads he converts?

Again, we do not explicitly know the answer. However, we do now know the questions to ask.

 

6 – Win Rate by Lead Source

Assessing win rates by Lead Source and Campaign (next chart) are two further lead conversion metrics to determine the efficacy of converted Leads.

A quick recap on Lead Source.

Lead Source is a standard picklist field on the Lead. It records the originating source or channel of the Lead.

For example, typical Lead Source picklist values are Web, Trade Show, Purchased List, Phone Enquiry and so on.

When a lead is converted, the Lead Source carries through to the equivalent field on the opportunity. This means we can analyse opportunity outcome by lead source.

Lead conversion metric #6 - win rates by lead source.

Remember, the chart and report are not showing the number of leads created by lead source. Rather, they show the outcome of opportunities from converted leads by each lead source.

In our example, some Leads Sources perform better. For example, phone and web enquiries have a significantly higher opportunity win rate compared to other lead sources.

All other things being equal, it will be worth our while working to increase the number of converted leads from these sources, compared to other lead sources.

 

7 – Converted Leads by Campaign

The previous lead conversion metric (win rate by Lead Source) tracks the outcome of converted leads by broad category.

We can get another perspective by measuring the outcome of converted leads by Campaign.

This lead conversion metric provides valuable insight into the value for money of different campaigns.

Lead conversion metric #7 - win rates by marketing campaign.

In our example, leads from the Tech Meeting perform significantly higher than other Campaigns. All other things being equal, running more of these campaigns is a worthwhile investment in time and money.

For help on using Campaigns review this blog, The Best Advice You Can Get on Salesforce Campaigns.

 

Conclusions

Assessing any aspect of sales and marketing performance means coming at the situation from multiple angles.

Understanding the contribution of converted leads is no exception.

The lead conversion metrics this blog post describes give you the tools to do that.

Start by quantifying the overall contribution of converted leads to overall revenue. That gives you a starting point and context.

Then review each lead conversion metric. Ask underlying questions about each. Interpret the metrics.

And use the answers to increase revenue.

 

How to create the Lead Conversion Metrics

To create any of the reports and dashboard charts in this blog post, you first need to distinguish between opportunities created from converted leads and those created directly on an Account.

This is easy to do. Here are the step-by-step instructions.

1. On the Lead object, create a picklist field called Converted Lead.

Give this field two picklist values, Yes and No.

Here’s the important thing.

On this field, make Yes the default value. This means that when a new lead is created, it automatically inherits the value Yes in this field.

 

2. Create the equivalent field on the Opportunity object.

Again, give the picklist values of Yes and No.

However, this time set No as the default picklist value. This means that when an opportunity is created directly on an Account, it will inherit the value No.

You can see that in our example, we also clicked the Chart Colours button.

This means we can pre-define the colors that will appear in our dashboard and report charts. In our example, we chose Green for Yes and Blue for No.

 

3. Map the Lead and Opportunity fields.

Now we need to map the fields from Leads to Opportunities.

Go back to the setup area for Leads.

Scroll down and click on the Map Lead Fields button. Then click on the Opportunities tab.

This page allows you to map the two fields you have just created. Link the Converted Lead field on the lead to the Converted Lead field on the opportunity.

This means that when a lead is converted, the value in the lead for this field automatically passes to the mapped field on the opportunity.

In other words, the result is an opportunity created from a converted lead has the value Yes.

Alternatively, if the opportunity is created directly on the Account, it has the value No.

Bingo!

 

4. One final step – update existing records.

The Converted Lead field will be blank for all existing lead records. In other words, the process will only work for new leads created this point forward.

However, you can fix this by setting the value to Yes for all existing leads.

Do this using the Apex Data Loader or a Lead List View.

From this point forward, all opportunities created from converted leads will have the value Yes in the opportunity field.

That’s how to identify the relevant opportunities that will appear in your reports.

If you need a free 30 minute web consultation with us to help set up the fields or the corresponding reports, no problem. Simply use this form to get in touch and we’ll give you a hand!

Broken Lead Process In Salesforce? Here’s how to fix it

Broken Lead Process In Salesforce? Here’s how to fix it

You probably don’t remember Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

It’s a surreal comedy group from the 1970’s. It’s how John Cleese and Michael Palin first made their name.

In one famous sketch, Palin arrives at the Argument Clinic or for an argument. Cleese is happy to oblige. They go round in circles, arguing the same point over.

You can recreate a similar scene.

Ask a room full of Sales and Marketing people agree how the lead process should work in salesforce.

You’re guaranteed a bun fight.

I’ve run hundreds of salesforce implementation workshops. And here’s something I’ve experienced. No subject causes more debate than that surrounding the lead process.

Yet, resolving this debate is critical to an effective lead process in salesforce. Unfortunately, often that doesn’t happen with clarity.

The outcome is an ineffective lead process. That means ineffective lead qualification, reduced revenue and poor marketing and sales performance information.

It also means you are unable to implement robust lead conversion metrics that quantify the contribution of leads to revenue.

Let’s understand what causes this debate. Then we will define a lead process in salesforce. Do this as one of the core components of effective Sales and Marketing alignment in your business.

(By the way, don’t forget, you can download the lead process diagrams used in this article).

Update: Join me for a compelling webinar on November 1, 2017 on Lead Conversion Success.

Difference between a lead and an opportunity

There is often dis-agreement between Sales and Marketing on the difference between a lead and an opportunity. Yet clarity is essential.

But that can be harder than it sounds.

Why is there so much confusion? After all, most Sales and Marketing people will acknowledge that a lead is the first step in the sales cycle.

Here’s why it’s a problem.

Salesperson’s definition of a lead

To a salesperson, a Lead can come as easily from an existing customer or known prospect, as a brand new one.

The lead can be repeat business for an existing customer. Or a new prospect, freshly arrived through the door.

Either way, the sales process has started. It may not be advanced enough to warrant an Opportunity in salesforce.com. But sales engagement has at least commenced.

So, from a salesperson’s perspective, a lead reflects a broad range of early stage, potential opportunities that require immediate action.

Marketing person’s definition of a lead

A Marketing person’s perception of a lead can vary in two important ways.

First, a Lead is often a person or business that will potentially make a purchase at some undetermined point in the future.

Marketing may hand the lead to Sales, but not necessarily with the expectation that a sale will immediately result. The lead is a potential customer that may engage in a future sales process. Conversely, to a salesperson, a lead is someone entering the sales process right now.

Second, to Marketing a lead is very often a new company or person. The business or contact may not have existed previously in the database. Indeed, the role of Marketing in many businesses is to increase the overall lead database for long-term benefit.

Sales are under pressure to close deals in the short term. Marketing want to nurture the Lead. It’s this contrast in expectations that frequently results in Sales to complaining about the quality of Leads created by Marketing.

Salesforce lead process

Sales and Marketing often fail to agree on the difference between a lead and an Opportunity. This directly obstructs the implementation of an effective lead process in salesforce.

So what constitutes a lead in the salesforce.com CRM system?

In fact, salesforce uses the term Lead in several different ways. Let’s take them step by step.

  • Lead as a brand new enquiry

Start by thinking of a Lead in salesforce as a brand new enquiry, from a business and person you’ve never previously heard of.

For example, let’s say you have a Web-to-Lead form set up on your web site. Web-to-Lead is an easy way to integrate salesforce with your web site. It means anyone that fills in your Contact Us form will be created automatically in salesforce as a lead.

So, the lead is created. What’s the first thing that should happen in the lead process? Check for duplicates by clicking on the Find Duplicates button on the Lead page layout.

This will identify any matching Leads or Contacts that already exist in your salesforce database. Let’s assume you don’t find any.

Now you make an outbound telephone call to the Lead. Essentially, one of three outcomes will result from this part of the lead process.

  • The Lead is a dead end

It turns out the person isn’t interested in any further dialogue. Perhaps it was a student simply looking for research information. Either way, set the Lead Status to Closed. You don’t necessarily delete the Lead from the database, but no further action is anticipated.

  • The Lead is a definite maybe

The Lead is moderately interested in your products and services. He doesn’t want to speak to a sales person – at least not yet. But you agree to send a brochure, product specification or price list. So this time set the Lead Status to Contacted. You might also create a follow up Task to call the Lead again in the future.

  • The Lead is a sales Opportunity

The Lead agrees to a meeting or phone call with a Sales person. Or he requests a quote. In other words, he gives you some indication that he’s a legitimate potential customer. He’s a Qualified Lead.

This time leave the Lead Status alone. Instead, click on the Convert Lead button. Salesforce will convert the Lead into three separate records; an Account; Contact; and Opportunity.

Here’s the process in a flow chart diagram.

Lead process diagram for qualifying a new Lead.

The Account represents the business or organisation. The Contact is the person employed by that organisation. And the Opportunity represents the potential sales deal.

It’s this early stage Opportunity that many Sales people will regard as a Lead.

Indeed Sales people may be reluctant to use the term Opportunity. It raises expectations about the outcome. It creates visibility of the deal in the sales pipeline dashboard. And from the salesperson’s perspective, the Lead may – or may not – have been properly qualified by Marketing before it was converted to an Account, Contact and Opportunity.

All legitimate issues. Before we address them, let’s deal with several other ways salesforce uses the term Lead.

  • Leads that match existing Lead records

Let’s go to back to our person that filled in the Contact Us form on your web site.

In our example, we assumed that no existing Lead or Contact matched our new Lead. We established this by clicking on the Find Duplicates button on the Lead page layout.

What if one or more matching Leads had been found?

Click the Find Duplicates button on the Lead page layout to find matching leads

No problem. Use the Merge Leads button to merge the various Leads into a single record. Then make your qualification call.

Here’s the lead process diagram.

Lead process diagram for qualifying a lead with match to existing lead.

  • Leads that match existing Contact records

How can an existing Contact be created as a Lead in salesforce? There’s a number of ways.

For example, Leads can be created by importing the spreadsheet that contains a list of people that came to a booth at an exhibition. Some of those people may well be existing Contacts.

Or, a Web-to-Lead form on your web site that allows visitors to register for an event. When an existing Contact registers she’s created as a Lead. The same thing happens if you’re using Web-to-Lead to enable visitors to download a document from your web site.

In any of these cases, when you click on the Find Duplicates button you may find there’s a matching Contact.

Click the Find Duplicates button to find Leads that match.

Here’s three ways to deal with the Contact-as-a-Lead situation.

  • Convert the Lead without making a Qualification call

    During the Lead conversion, salesforce will help you merge the Lead into the existing Contact record. If the Account Owner is already actively engaged with the Contact – on an existing Opportunity for example – then perhaps it isn’t appropriate to make the qualification call.

  • Convert the Lead and then make a Qualification call

    This is the common approach when it’s the Account Owner that is dealing with the Lead. He or she merges the Lead into the Contact record and then makes a call to the Contact.

  • Make a qualification call before Converting the Lead

    This approach is used most frequently when Marketing or Inside Sales is dealing with the Lead. They make call to the Lead, cognisant of the fact that the person already has a relationship with the company. Following the conversation the Lead is converted, but Marketing or Inside Sales make a human decision on whether to simultaneously create an Opportunity.

Here’s the process diagram for the last of these scenarios.

Lead process diagram for lead qualification with match to existing account or contact.

To Convert a Lead without creating an Opportunity, check the box “Do not create Opportunity upon conversion” during the convert process. It’s underneath the Opportunity name on the Convert Lead page layout.

At the end of the Monty Python scene, Palin and Cleese continue to argue about whether the argument is finished.

You can do better than that. You can resolve the argument about lead processes in the workshop. And then build the lead process in salesforce; it’s a sure-fire way to increase sales and marketing alignment.

Free lead process diagram download

Are the lead process diagrams in this article useful to you? Download the diagrams in Powerpoint. Use them starting point for creating your own lead management process.

Related Blog Posts

Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

Should Salespeople Generate Their Own Leads?

The Mini Dictionary of Marketing Automation Terms

Who’s in your invisible sales pipeline?

2 Quick Wins Using Web To Lead You Can Implement Today

2 Quick Wins Using Web To Lead You Can Implement Today

Here are two quick wins using web to lead that many companies overlook:

  1. Web to lead on their Contact Us page.
  2. Web to lead for downloadable web content.

The fact that many companies don’t do this means they are not generating leads as efficiently as they should.

The result is fewer leads, and less sales-ready opportunities.

Yet web to lead is quick and easy to do. Read on to discover the benefits. Then have your system administrator implement these quick wins today.

1. Web To Lead ‘Contact Us’ page

I doubt there is a business that doesn’t have a Contact Us page on their web site.

But many companies that own salesforce licenses are missing a trick. They are not using web to lead on their Contact Us page.

Instead, they have the prospect fill in a form. Then they send the form details to an email address. (Or even worse, they simply invite the prospect to send an email to info@). This means it is more time consuming, and requires more effort, to respond to the enquiry.

A salesforce web to lead form is a quick win in this situation. Here are five reasons you should be using web to lead on your Contact Us page.

  1. Populate the lead information into salesforce without any extra effort. No re-keying of data involved.
  2. Automatically send an acknowledgement email. Let the prospect know you have received her enquiry.
  3. Immediately assign the new lead to someone qualified to deal with the enquiry. I’ve commented below on who the right person might be.
  4. Alert the person to whom you have sent the lead with an automated email.
  5. Capture hidden information that will improve your marketing metrics. For example, link the lead to a relevant Campaign. Automatically set the Lead Source field.

I’ve helped hundreds of companies improve their lead process. And in every case, I’ve found that the quicker you respond to a new lead, the higher the chance of a successful outcome.

These probably ring true in your own experience.

Web to lead means you get the information into salesforce, acknowledge the customer and assign the lead to the right person, all in the blink of an eye.

Who is the right person to receive Contact Us enquiries?

Often the immediate response is to assign web to lead prospects to a salesperson.

But hold on. That might not be the best way. Here’s why.

  • Salespeople are busy dealing with opportunities. Which is the way you want it. Most salespeople will see a new web lead as lower priority than an open opportunity. That may mean a slower response.
  • Salespeople are often out in the field. Speed is of the essence. You need to respond to the web to lead prospect quickly. Leaving the response until the salesperson has downtime is a sure-fire way to neglect new leads.
  • The new enquiry may not be a sales lead. It may be a technical query, vendor approach, potential employee or even spam. Have someone qualify and validate new enquiries. Then, when the person is sales-ready, assign the lead to a salesperson.

In many businesses, web to lead prospects are immediately assigned to an inside salesperson, telemarketer or marketing employee.

This person qualifies the lead. He may also add additional company or person-specific information. In short, assign qualified leads to salespeople. Deal with all other enquiries in a different way.

For more information on the process for dealing with web leads (including free process diagrams that you can download), review our blog post, The Difference Between A Lead and an Opportunity In Salesforce.

Multiple Contact Us pages

Don’t think you can only have one web to lead Contact Us form on your web site. You can have as many as you like.

For example, if your web site is in multiple languages, create a different web to lead form for each language. Send the acknowledgement email based on the language of the form.

Even if the site is in a single language, you may still have many different pages in which the customer can get in touch.

In that case, you’ve two choices. Use the same web to lead form in each location. Or go the extra mile – create a different web to lead form in each case. That way you can set the Lead Source field differently for each form. It’s an easy way to understand where your sales enquiries are coming from.

So that’s the first quick win. Get a web to lead form set up on your Contact Us page today. As always, if you need some help, go to our own Contact Us page and we’ll answer your question. Quickly, I hope!

2. Web to lead for content download

Here’s the second quick win you can implement easily using web to lead.

Use web to lead to manage content downloads on your web site.

The days of the salesperson being in charge of the flow of information with a prospect are long gone. Nowadays, with any important buying decision, prospects expect to conduct their own extensive web research. They do this research long before they’re ready to speak to a salesperson.

Businesses that generate revenue efficiently have acknowledged the buying process has changed.

Efficient revenue generation means helping prospects conduct this preliminary research. This builds trust, credibility and engagement with prospects. This happens long before a dialogue has started between the salesperson and her prospect.

Downloadable content on your web site can include eBooks, case studies, white papers, checklists and other useful material.

But here’s the thing. You can ‘sell’ your best content. The price? The cost of an email address.

Content download example

Look at our most popular blog post, 12 Charts That Should Be On Your Salesforce Dashboard.

The post gives extensive advice on using salesforce dashboards to improve visibility of the sales pipeline and sales performance.

It includes videos that demonstrate the 12 charts that we think are critical in any business. There are extensive links to related pages on our web site that give more information on each dashboard chart.

You can also download the accompanying eBook. It’s a high quality, comprehensive resource. So we charge for it. The price is an email address.

Here’s what we don’t then do. Immediately jump down their throat. Rather, we use an email nurture program to invite the prospect to look at our other content. Many people do. And some of those people subsequently engage with us on a commercial basis.

It’s an efficient and effective way to generate revenue, with the prospect being in charge of the purchasing process. Of course, to understand how this approach can apply in your own business you know what to do by now – visit our Contact Us page.

Use web to lead for content download

Here’s how it works.

Set up a web to lead form to capture the email address. Then, when the prospect completes the form, immediately send her an email that she can use to download the content.

That way, you validate that the email address is legitimate. It also means you capture all the details in salesforce. This includes linking the lead to a marketing campaign and setting the lead source.

You can implement this quick win today.

How to set up web to lead

There’s a wizard in salesforce to help system administrators set up web to lead. You’ll find it under Setup, Customize, Leads, Web-to-Lead.

Use this wizard to create the code for your web form. Then get the person that looks after your website to deploy the form on your web site.

Don’t get bogged down with it. If you need some help or advice just get in touch.

Related Blog Posts

Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?
Should Salespeople Generate Their Own Leads?
The Mini Dictionary of Marketing Automation Terms
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Should Salespeople Generate Their Own Leads?

Should Salespeople Generate Their Own Leads?

“If they were proper salespeople they would generate their own leads.”

So says Paul Rolling.

Paul commented on the LinkedIn version of last week’s blog post, “Why Sales Complain About Marketing Leads”.

The post tells the story of how the Marketing team at Modernis attended a trade show. Marketing generated lots of leads. And passed them straight to Sales.

Guess the number of opportunities created?

None whatsoever.

What happened next?

Modernis engaged us for a customer research project 12 months later. The GSP team phoned 10 of the leads as part of the research assignment.

We found that five of the leads had since made a purchase or were in the process of doing so. In other words, 50% were great quality leads.

Yet Sales originally thought all the leads were rubbish.

I outlined the lessons that Modernis learned from this experience.

Then I published the blog on LinkedIn. And Paul made his comment.

Really, Paul?

I asked him to elaborate.

“What I mean is that if you need others to create your sales leads you are doing only half the job. If you start and finish the process yourself, you can properly qualify the prospect without wasting time with leads from someone who is simply playing a numbers game.”

You can see his point.

Proper qualification of Leads is critical to effective selling. No one wants salespeople to waste time on non-productive leads. And the salesperson knows best what represents a qualified lead.

Why salespeople should generate their own leads

Here are five ways I think salespeople should create their own leads.

  1. Referrals. Salespeople are in the ideal position to ask a customer or prospect if they can recommend anyone else.
  2. Existing customers. We all agree it is easier to sell to existing customers than new ones. Generating new leads from within the existing customer base is part of any salesperson’s role.
  3. Very specific cold contacts. Something has changed with a potential customer. Takeover, acquisition, competitor action, it doesn’t matter. In certain situations, a carefully crafted, highly targeted email or phone call from a salesperson with relevant company and industry knowledge and experience is the right approach.
  4. Networking / speaking. Many salespeople attend networking or speak at events. All legitimate ways for salespeople to generate their own leads.
  5. LinkedIn (or other social media). Keeping in touch, regularly interacting with groups, sending targeted communications, are all ways for salespeople to generate their own leads.

So Paul has a point.

There are situations when it is right for salespeople to generate their own leads.

Nevertheless, I have a but. And it’s a big but.

In most businesses, the leads salespeople generate themselves should supplement rather than replace the leads Marketing generate on behalf of salespeople.

Why salespeople shouldn’t generate their own leads

Let’s remind ourselves of the context here.

We’re talking about sales teams that operate in a B2B environment in which the sales cycle is several months or more. I’m also assuming that there is a reasonable degree of sales and marketing alignment.

1. Sales people are expensive

Salespeople are often the most expensive resources in a company. That’s even before you consider the fully loaded cost of Sales.

In many industries, salespeople need a significant degree of experience and expertise in the product area. They need to be sufficiently mature (irrespective of age) to interact effectively with experienced counter-parts on the purchasing side. That takes time and investment in people development.

This investment means salespeople have to be productive as possible.

The conflict with lead generation is that so much of it is time consuming and unproductive. Simply finding the right people to contact can take an age. Getting hold of them even longer.

This work can left reliably to lower cost employees. Having salespeople generate their own leads is an inefficient use of this expensive asset.

2. Salespeople aren’t very good at cold calling

This may come as a surprise to many people not directly involved in sales. After all, salespeople are supposed to have the ‘gift of the gab’, aren’t they?

No, not necessarily. In fact, in my experience, the most successful salespeople are the ones that listen the most and talk the least.

Calling and qualifying leads is a skill in its own right. And because they are not very good at it, for many skilled salespeople, cold calling prospects is like going on a diet or giving up smoking. Tomorrow is always a better day to start. Focus today on getting an existing deal moved along, rather than spend time being rejected on the phone.

3. Confused roles and metrics

Expect salespeople to generate their own leads and you risk confusion over priorities and focus.

Let’s say you have a salesperson that is consistently one of the top revenue performers. But she’s poor at generating leads. Is she doing well or badly? What management action do you take? If you are not careful, you risk damaging overall revenue by making her focus more time and energy on generating her own leads.

And what if she’s not very good at generating her own leads? There is a serious risk of de-motivation and resignation. Far better to have her out in the field, spending time with customers and prospects.

4. Consistent, robust approach to generating leads

Effective lead generation requires a systematic and organized approach. This means a day-in-day-out reliable process of gathering information, sending relevant communications, calling potential prospects, making appointments.

Lead generation is not an activity you can afford to leave until the pipeline is low. It is not something to do in a crisis. This is a business activity that requires a continuous, systematic approach. Use the extensive internet resources such as Siteoscope to generate more web leads.

Generating leads is too important to be left to times when a salesperson has a quiet moment (there’s never a quiet moment). It requires dedicated commitment from a properly trained, organized and managed person or team.

5. Technology is re-engineering lead generation

Once, cold calling and adverts was primarily the way to generate leads. Not anymore.

Prospects are devouring content. B2B buyers research extensively online before deciding on which suppliers to contact. They decide when, how and on what terms to interact with the selling organization.

Companies effective at generating leads are increasingly using technology, not people align with this buyer-led approach. Applications such as Pardot and Marketo allow vendors to nurture, prioritize and monitor leads. They perform these activities on a scale and sophistication that no human can achieve.

So let marketing automation technology do its thing. Only then, when the technology highlights a sales-ready lead, should the salesperson get involved.

In summary

Every sales team rightly expects salespeople to generate their own leads. These leads come from sources such as networking, carefully targeted email, referrals and extensions into the customer’s own organization.

In many businesses though, it is counter-productive to ask salespeople to focus heavily on generating their own leads.

Far better to let technology and automated business processes do the work of lead nurturing and prioritization. It means getting lower cost employees with specialist skills to do the hard work of identifying and qualifying leads.

Further Reading

5 Compelling Recommendations For Sales And Marketing Alignment 

5 Proven Lead Conversion Best Practices

7 Lead Conversion Metrics You Should Be Tracking (But Probably Aren’t)

Related Blog Posts

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5 Mistakes To Avoid With Salesforce Leads

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Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

Let us know what you think about this blog post by filling out the form below – we greatly appreciate it!

 

“Most Marketing leads we get are rubbish,” complains Dave Apthorp, sales executive at Modernis.

“How can Sales possibly know this?” says Maria Smith, marketing manager at Modernis. “They never phone any of the leads we DO give them!”

But where’s the truth? Are Marketing leads so poor it’s not worth Sales following them up? We wanted to find out.

Twelve months ago the Modernis marketing team attended a trade show. Sales immediately called up the leads. And how many opportunities were created? None. Absolutely none. Which led to a lot of sales complaints about the quality of leads. And one heck of a lot of friction.

So, 12 months later we called 10 of the marketing leads. We wanted to find out what had happened in the intervening 12 months. Here’s what we discovered:

  • 2 had purchased products from a competitor of Modernis.
  • 2 were actively engaged in a purchasing process to select a supplier. Sadly Modernis wasn’t one of the candidate suppliers.
  • 1 hadn’t started a formal purchasing process. But they fully expected to make a purchase in the next 12 months.
  • 4 of the leads had taken no action following the trade show. They didn’t anticipate starting a purchasing process any time soon.
  • 1 wasn’t in Modernis’ market place and is unlikely to ever make a purchase.

In other words 5 of the 10 were great leads. Two had already bought from a competitor. And yet these leads were all rejected as rubbish by Sales.

So why didn’t these prospects engage with Sales at the time? Here’s what they told us:

“We weren’t ready”.

” We didn’t have stakeholder support”.

“I didn’t have a budget at the time”.

“We weren’t sure what the right solution was. The last thing I needed was a sales pitch.”

“We hadn’t decided which vendors we wanted to talk to”.

The prospects were legitimate buyers. But they simply weren’t  sales ready. They were at an earlier stage in the buying process. They didn’t want to speak to a sales person. Yet.

Which is why Sales thought the marketing leads were rubbish. “That’s why we don’t bother to ring them”, says Dave.

But what’s worse, after the trade show the activities of these warm prospects were invisible to Modernis. Which meant no-one knew when they were sales ready. And led to lost sales for Modernis.

It was a classic case of a lack of sales and marketing alignment.

So what what can we learn from this research. Six things.

1. Manage the invisible pipeline pro-actively

Customers start their buying process long before Sales get involved. These early stage activities form an invisible pipeline. Yet this invisible revenue pipeline can – and must – be managed to drive sales income.

2. It pays to be patient

Modernis has a sales cycle of 2 – 3 months. But that’s Modernis definition of the sales cycle. That’s how long it typically takes an opportunity to pass from Created to Closed in the CRM system. But looked at from the perspective of the customer, the buying process is much longer.

3. Lead nurturing is essential

Traditionally prospects had to rely on sales people for their information. Not any more. There’s a wealth of information available on the internet on every product on earth.

And ad hoc marketing campaigns – delivered only when time permits – have only a short term impact on sales revenue. Effective lead nurturing means a structured process of communications throughout the buying process.

4. Useful is the new cool

The creation of content that is highly useful to prospects is critical to lead nurturing. The leads we spoke to were hungry for information. Highly useful content satisfies this hunger. It helps leads narrow choices. In your favor.

5. Engage sales when prospects are sales ready

Prospects don’t mind talking to sales people. But only when they’re ready to do so. And only with the relatively small number of vendors with whom they’ve decided to engage. And the challenge for Marketing? Track human behavior to gauge when leads are sales ready.

6. Marketing is becoming increasingly process and technology driven

It’s hard to know when a prospect is sales ready without knowing if they open your emails. Read your blog posts. Visit your web site.

Lead nurturing cannot be done in an ad hoc fashion. And it can’t be done manually, at least not effectively. It requires planning and well defined processes. Together with the marketing automation tools necessary to make the whole thing scalable and efficient.

Recommended Reading

5 Sales And Marketing Alignment Recommendations That Nail It

And finally… you can also access this blog on Slideshare – Stop Sales complaining about the quality of Marketing Leads

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5 Mistakes To Avoid With Salesforce Leads

5 Mistakes To Avoid With Salesforce Leads

Most businesses should be making use of Leads in salesforce.

Unless you’re in a known and finite market then there will always be new Leads to be qualified.

(Actually even if you’re in a finite market in which every player is known you should probably still be using salesforce Leads).

But here’s the thing.

The lead process in salesforce is often badly implemented. That means a lack of sales and marketing alignment.

And that means reduced benefits and usually a lot of unnecessary frustration.

In our experience the mistakes made by one company are often repeated by another. So here are the 5 most common mistakes made in implementing Salesforce Leads.

Oh, and by the way. If one of these mistakes has been made in your business then don’t worry. We also explain the action that will fix it.

So here you go. 5 common mistakes made with salesforce Leads and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1. Not using Web to Lead

Your web site is an ideal place to solicit new inquiries from prospective customers.

In our experience if someone has taken the trouble to get in touch with you then they tend to be a pretty warm Lead.

So it’s a shame that companies often do one of two things. They invite prospects to send an email to an address published on the Contact Us page. Or secondly, they publish a form that doesn’t pass the information directly into salesforce.

This is a mistake because it adversely impacts your businesses’ ability to respond quickly and effectively to the inquiry. It means you cannot:

  • Automatically route the Lead to the person best equipped to deal with the customer’s request.
  • Automatically send the prospect an acknowledgement that you have received their request.
  • Gather information about the request in a structured way (we can’t guarantee that the person includes a phone number in their email, for example).
  • Measure how quickly your team respond to new Leads.
  • Automatically link the Lead to a Campaign. This means you lose valuable information about marketing effectiveness.

It also means someone will need to re-type the inquiry in salesforce and that’s a waste of time.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Replace the email address or third party form with a salesforce Web-to-Lead form.

This will automatically create a Lead in salesforce when someone completes the form. It means you can avoid or correct all of the shortcomings listed above.

Here’s more information on how to implement salesforce Web-to-Lead forms.

Mistake #2. Not using Lead Assignment Rules in salesforce

All evidence demonstrates that the quicker you respond to a sales inquiry the greater the chances of winning the deal.

If you rely on team leaders, sales support or managers to assign Leads then you may be delaying the response to the inquiry. And that can mean lost sales.

The quickest way to get a Lead in salesforce into the hands of a person that can contact the prospect is to use Lead Assignment Rules. So it’s a mistake not to use them.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Lead Assignment Rules can be based on any standard or custom field on the Lead. They’re easy and straightforward to set up. Here’s where you can find more information on setting up Lead Assignment Rules (LINK).

Or get in touch if you’d like to know more about the custom solutions that we have implemented for customers. These include the ability to automatically assign Leads based on holidays and team availability.

Mistake #3. Not linking Leads to Campaigns

In many cases Leads are created but no-one knows where they came from. For example, the Leads are not linked to the marketing campaign that generated the Lead or influenced the qualification process.

This means that information on the effectiveness of marketing campaigns is lost. It’s impossible to tell which marketing activities work and which don’t.

But it goes deeper than that.

If the Lead is converted and an Opportunity is created then there’s no information on the contribution of the marketing campaign. In other words, the return on investment on marketing campaigns cannot be calculated.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Link the Lead to the marketing Campaign that generated the Lead.

If the Lead came from an advert, trade show or email program then link the Lead to the relevant Campaign. Be sure to modify the Campaign Member Status values to reflect the various types of Campaign. Here’s a blog post that explains how and why to use Campaign Members.

Sometimes there’s no obvious marketing campaign. For example, if the Lead is generated by a Web-to-Lead form on your web site. Our recommendation is to create an ongoing Campaign called Web Inquiries and link these Leads to that Campaign.

That way you’ll get consistent management information on all Leads and understand the contribution played by different marketing campaigns.

One more thing whilst were on this topic.

Let’s clear up the ambiguity between Campaigns and the Lead Source field.

The Lead Source is a picklist that is populated when the Lead is first created. For example, a picklist value on the Lead Source might be Exhibitions. But the Campaign tells you which specific exhibition generated the Lead. So use both in conjunction with each other to get the most informative management information.

Mistake #4. Opportunities are not created when the Lead is Converted

Here’s what happened in several companies that asked for our help in improving the lead management process.

The telemarketing team contacted the Lead and arranged an appointment for a field sales person. The Lead was assigned to the sales person. The sales person converted the Lead to an Account and Contact but without creating an Opportunity.

The meeting created by the telemarketing team was fulfilled by the sales person. If the meeting was successful then the sales person created an Opportunity.

But this approach is a mistake. Here’s why.

The relationship between the Opportunity and originating Campaign and the Lead Source was broken. This is because the Opportunity was not created at the point of Conversion. This means that it is now impossible to determine the effectiveness of different marketing campaigns or lead sources.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Convert the Lead to an Account, Contact and Opportunity when the meeting is arranged. This means the link between the Campaign and Lead Source is retained and passed through to the Opportunity.

It also means that the meeting is recorded against both the Contact and the Opportunity.

As a result, reports and dashboard charts now demonstrate the efficacy of Campaigns and various lead sources in producing revenue.

Both of our customers set the new Opportunity to “Stage 0 – Marketing Qualified”.

It’s perfectly acceptable for the sales person to “Qualify-out” the Opportunity immediately after the initial meeting. The sales person selects from a ‘Reason Lost’ picklist and enters additional information into a text box or the Chatter Feed on the Opportunity. This means there’s a process of continuous improvement fueled by feedback on the success or failure of each early-stage Opportunity.

Study this blog post to understand about Lead Conversion and to download lead management process diagrams. To find more about tracking the revenue contribution of converted leads use, 7 Lead Conversion Metrics You Should Use (But Probably Don’t).

Mistake #5. Treat every new salesforce Lead as if it’s sales-ready

Often businesses don’t differentiate between sales-ready Leads and nurture-ready Leads. They treat everyone as sales-ready.

If someone fills in a form on your web site asking you to get in touch then it’s safe to say they’re sales-ready. They’re willing and able to speak to a sales person.

But that doesn’t apply to everyone that fills in a form. And it definitely doesn’t always apply to Leads from other sources.

Think about your own buying process. You might download an e-book, whitepaper, case study, product specification or other useful content. But it doesn’t mean you immediately want to hear from a sales person.

Yet often companies pass these Leads straight to Sales to call. And that’s a mistake.

Here’s another example.

At considerable expense one of our customers attended a trade show and gathered 160 new Leads. “It will be like shooting fish in a barrel”, said the VP of marketing as he handed the Leads over to Sales.

The Sales team phoned all the Leads. Want to guess how many new Opportunities were created?

None.

12 months later we phoned 10 of the Leads as part of our research project for the customer. Here’s what we found.

  • 2 companies had purchased from a competitor.
  • 2 companies were actively engaged in a purchasing process but neither had involved our client.
  • 1 hadn’t started a formal purchasing process but expected to do so in the next 6 months.
  • 4 had taken no action following the trade show and didn’t expect to make a purchase any time soon.
  • 1 was only interested in winning the iPad giveaway competition.

In other words half of the Leads were legitimate potential customers. In fact two had already bought from a competitor.

At the time Sales contacted the Leads the prospects were not sales-ready. They were nurture-ready. The fact that our client failed to communicate or nurture these Leads on a regular basis after the trade show was a mistake. And that mistake meant missed opportunities, and in all probability, lost sales.

Read the full story here.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

Those Leads that are sales-ready need to be contacted quickly. But not all Leads fall into this category. In fact the majority probably don’t.

To deal with the nurture-ready Leads implement a regular program of targeted marketing communications to move Leads along the path to being sales-ready.

The most effective way to do this is by using a marketing automation platform such as Marketo, Hubspot or Pardot. These applications enable sophisticated targeting to support lead nurturing. They also provide lead tracking and scoring to indicate when a Lead appears to be sales-ready.

If you don’t have access to and advanced marketing automation tool then use a mass email tools such as Dotmailer or MailChimp. The capabilities are less advanced but they can still be integrated with salesforce to track how well specific Leads are responding to marketing communications.

Of course don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like our help with Leads in salesforce in your business. We won’t necessarily regard you as sales-ready but we promise to contact you quickly. 🙂

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The Mini Dictionary of Marketing Automation Terms

The Mini Dictionary of Marketing Automation Terms

Getting the sales team to cold call an unqualified list of leads is like giving up smoking or going on a diet.

There’s always something that gets in the way. Tomorrow is always a better time to start than today.

And in any case, it often turns out to be an unfruitful waste of valuable time.

But how do you increase the flow of sales-ready leads and opportunities to the sales team?

The answer, increasingly, is marketing automation. Thousands of B2B organisations – and quite a few B2C ones – are investing heavily in marketing automation systems from vendors such as Hubspot, Pardot and Marketo. These systems provide scalable and automated marketing processes that boost the number of warm leads and drive opportunity conversion rates.

So what exactly is marketing automation? And what are the essential marketing automation terms that matter in any discussion on lead generation? Terms such as content marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, sales qualified lead and marketing qualified lead.

(more…)

The Crucial Difference Between A Lead And An Opportunity in Salesforce

The Crucial Difference Between A Lead And An Opportunity in Salesforce

If you want to start an argument, ask a room full of Sales and Marketing people to explain the difference between a Lead and an Opportunity. You’re guaranteed a bun fight.

But why does the difference between a Lead and an Opportunity matter?

It matters because every business wants to generate more Leads in order to drive revenue. Consequently organisations are focussing increased attention on the effectiveness of their lead management process.  And to implement an effective lead management process, Sales and Marketing must agree on the difference between a Lead and an Opportunity.

But that can be harder than it sounds.

However if Sales and Marketing can’t agree on the difference, then how can they agree on when a Lead should become an Opportunity? And if they can’t agree this, then it’s simply not possible to implement a robust, end-to-end Lead and Opportunity management process across the organisation.

It’s a challenge we’ve helped many businesses resolve. So here’s our definitive guide to the difference between a Lead and an Opportunity.

Sales person’s definition of a Lead

Why is there so much confusion in the first place? After all, most Sales and Marketing people will acknowledge that a Lead is the first step in the sales cycle.

The reason is that to a sales person, a Lead can just as easily come from an existing customer or known prospect, as a brand new one. It’s simply the start of the sales process. The process may not be sufficiently advanced to warrant creating a formal Opportunity in salesforce.com. But it has at least started.

So from a sales person’s perspective, a Lead reflects a broad range of early stage, potential opportunities that require action. It’s these opportunities, both early and late stage, that show on the salesforce dashboards that focus on sales performance and funnel visibility.

Marketing person’s definition of a Lead

A Marketing person’s perception of a Lead can vary in two important ways in the absence of an agreed organisational definition.

First, a Lead is often a person or business that will potentially make a purchase at some undetermined point in the future. Marketing may hand the Lead to Sales, but not necessarily with the expectation that a sale will immediately result. The Lead is a potential customer that may engage in a future sales process.

Second, Marketing often defines a Lead as being a brand new company or person. The business or contact didn’t previously exist in the database. Indeed the role of Marketing in many businesses is to increase the overall prospect base for long term benefit, rather than directly impact immediate revenue over the next month or two.

Sales are under pressure to close deals in the short term. Marketing want to nurture the Lead. It’s this contrast in expectations that frequently results in Sales to complaining about the quality of Leads created by Marketing.

Definition of a Lead in salesforce

These differing definitions of a Lead mean Sales and Marketing fail to agree on the difference between a Lead and an Opportunity. This directly obstructs the implementation of an effective Lead management process in salesforce.com.

So what constitutes a Lead in the salesforce.com CRM system?

In fact, salesforce uses the term Lead in several different ways. Let’s take them step by step.

1. Lead as a brand new enquiry

Start by thinking of a Lead in salesforce.com as a brand new enquiry, from a business and person you’ve never previously heard of.

For example, let’s say you’ve a Web-to-Lead form set up on your web site. Web-to-Lead is an easy, standard way to integrate salesforce with your web site. It means anyone that fills in your Contact Us form will be automatically inserted into salesforce.com as a Lead.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do? Click on the Find Duplicates button on the Lead page layout. This will identify any matching Leads or Contacts that already exist in your salesforce database. Let’s assume you don’t find any.

Now you make an outbound telephone call to the Lead. Essentially, one of three basic outcomes is going to result from the conversation:

  • The Lead is a dead end.
    It turns out the person isn’t interested in any further dialogue. Or perhaps it was a student simply looking for research information. Either way, set the Lead Status to Closed. You don’t necessarily delete the Lead from the database, but no further action is anticipated.
  • The Lead is a definite maybe.
    The Lead is moderately interested in your products and services. He doesn’t want to speak to a sales person – at least not yet. But you agree to send a brochure, product specification or price list.So this time set the Lead Status to Contacted. You might also create a follow up Task to call the Lead again in the future.
  • The Lead is a sales Opportunity.
    The Lead agrees to a meeting or phone call with a Sales person. Or he requests a quote. In other words, he gives you some indication that he’s a legitimate potential customer. He’s a Qualified Lead.

This time leave the Lead Status alone. Instead, click on the Convert Lead button. Salesforce will convert the Lead into three separate records; an Account; Contact; and Opportunity.

Here’s the process in a flow chart diagram.

Process diagram for qualifying a new Lead in salesforce

The Account represents the business or organisation. The Contact is the person employed by that organisation. And the Opportunity represents the potential sales deal.

It’s this early stage Opportunity that many Sales people will regard as a Lead.

Indeed Sales people may be reluctant to use the term Opportunity. It raises expectations about the outcome. It creates visibility of the deal in the sales pipeline dashboard. And from the sales person’s perspective, the Lead may – or may not – have been properly qualified before it was converted to an Account, Contact and Opportunity.

All legitimate issues. Before we address them, let’s deal with several other ways salesforce.com uses the term Lead.

2. Leads that match existing Lead records

Let’s go to back to our person that filled in the Contact Us form on your web site.

In our example we assumed that there were no existing Leads or Contacts that matched our new Lead. We established this by clicking on the Find Duplicates button on the Lead page layout.

What if one or more matching Leads had been found?

Search for duplicate leads in salesforce

No problem. Use the Merge Leads button to merge the various Leads into a single record. Then make your qualification call.

Here’s the process diagram.

Lead qualification process diagram with duplicate lead records

3. Leads that match existing Contact records

How can an existing Contact be created as a Lead in salesforce? Well, there’s a number of ways.

For example, Leads can be created by importing the spreadsheet that contains a list of people that came to a booth at an exhibition. Some of those people may well be existing Contacts.

Or say you’ve a Web-to-Lead form on your web site that allows visitors to register for an event. When an existing Contact registers he’s created as a Lead. The same thing happens if you’re using Web-to-Lead to enable visitors to download a document from your web site.

In any of these cases, when you click on the Find Duplicates button you may find there’s a matching Contact.

Click the Find Duplicates button to find Leads that match existing Contacts

Here’s three ways to deal with the Contact-as-a-Lead situation.

  • Convert the Lead without making a Qualification call.
    During the Lead conversion process, salesforce will help you merge the Lead into the existing Contact record. If the Account Owner is already actively engaged with the Contact – on an existing Opportunity for example – then perhaps it isn’t appropriate to make the qualification call.
  • Convert the Lead and then make a Qualification call.
    This is the common approach when it’s the Account Owner that is dealing with the Lead. He or she merges the Lead into the Contact record and then makes a call to the Contact.
  • Make a qualification call before Converting the Lead.
    This approach is used most frequently when Marketing or Inside Sales is dealing with the Lead. They make call to the Lead, cognisant of the fact that the person already has a relationship with the company. Following the conversation the Lead is converted, but Marketing or Inside Sales make a human decision on whether to simultaneously create an Opportunity.

Here’s the process diagram for the last of these scenarios.

New Lead Qualification Process Diagram with Matching Account and Contact

To Convert a Lead without creating an Opportunity, check the box “Do not create Opportunity upon conversion” during the convert process. It’s underneath the Opportunity name on the Convert Lead page layout.

When to Convert a new Lead into an Opportunity

Let’s go back to our first example. The one in which we found no matching Leads or Contacts. At what point should we convert the Lead to an Opportunity?

In fact, salesforce doesn’t mandate when you should do this. It’s up to you. The conversion point in the lead management process will vary from business to business. The key is to define the Lead Qualification criteria with the Sales team and convert the Lead when it meets these agreed criteria.

Defining who should convert a new Lead into an Opportunity

If new Leads are assigned immediately to Sales as soon as they arrive, then it will be the Sales person that converts the Lead to the Opportunity. This is the case in many businesses. There simply isn’t the resource available to have someone other than the Sales person deal with new Leads.

This is a high risk approach though. Remember, Sales are under pressure to meet short term revenue targets. If new Leads require patient nurturing in order to become sales opportunities, there’s a significant risk Sales will quickly start ignoring the Leads passed over by Marketing. Better to use a marketing application such as Pardot, Marketo or Hubspot to automate the nurturing process and transfer the Lead to Sales when the agreed qualification criteria are met.

What if Marketing or an Inside Sales team qualify the Lead before it can be converted? As a general rule, the team that performs the qualification activity should convert the Lead to the Opportunity. But to make this work, a robust Lead qualification process needs to be in place, with agreement between the qualification team and Sales on the criteria that will allow an Opportunity to be created. Again, a marketing application can add power and sophistication to the lead nurturing and lead qualification process.

If there’s ambiguity on the definition of a qualified Lead then it’s better to have Sales perform the conversion process.

The difference between a Lead and an Opportunity in salesforce

So, a meaty answer to what seems like a straight forward question – what’s the difference between a Lead and an Opportunity? At least now you’re ready to referee the argument that breaks out when you ask the question!

Whichever way you look at it, Leads are the first step in the sales process. An effective lead management process requires the difference between a Lead and an Opportunity to be clearly articulated and agreed between Sales and Marketing. What’s the first step in achieving this? Agreement on the qualification criteria that determine when a Lead can be converted into an Opportunity.

Free lead management process diagram download

Want to get your hands on the diagrams used in this blog post? No problem, fill in the form to download the diagrams in Powerpoint. Use them starting point for creating your own lead management process.

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We’ve worked with many businesses to define and implement detailed Lead management processes. We also help companies implement salesforce.com and marketing automation applications including Pardot, Marketo and Hubspot. Simply get in touch for an informal discussion on how we can help your business innovate your sales and marketing process to boost revenue.

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