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How To Track Lead Score Velocity And Highlight Priority Prospects

Tracking lead scores over time means you can act quickly upon prospects when there is a sense of urgency.

We call the change in lead score value over time, the lead score velocity. You can also refer to it as the lead score cadence.

Here’s an example that reveals why it’s essential to measure lead score velocity.
Let’s say you have two leads created ten weeks ago. And both leads now have a score of 100 points.

The first Lead reached 100 points by acquiring ten points per week. The person gained these points by visiting your website once each week.

Compare the lead score velocity for two prospects.
Compare the lead score velocity for two prospects.

The second Lead gained 10 points in the first week, but then nothing for seven weeks. However, over the last two weeks, the person acquired 45 points each week.

Compare the lead score velocity for two prospects.
Compare the lead score velocity for two prospects.

Which one will you phone first? After all, they both have the same number of points.

Many salespeople will opt for the second Lead. That’s because this prospect shows a sudden sense of urgency. It’s more likely the person has a compelling need to solve a problem right now. That makes them the hotter prospect.

However, to get this insight, you need to track lead score velocity. In other words, you need to measure the change in lead score over time. Unfortunately, that’s not something that marketing tools such as Pardot or Marketo do naturally.

Nevertheless, in this article, I’ll explain EXACTLY how to track lead scores over time. I’ll also tell you how to make the lead score velocity visible to salespeople so that they can act quickly on the most compelling prospects.

How Lead Scores Work

Marketing tools such as Pardot and Marketo let you assign scores based on lead behavior.

For example, Pardot uses these values to generate lead scores for everyday activities:

  • Click links in an email: 3 points.
  • Fills in a web form (e.g. eBook download): 50 points.
  • Visits web page: 1 point.

You can customize these values to suit your business. For example, a visit to the product pricing page may be worth 5 points. Visiting the job vacancies page may be worth zero.

For more detailed information about lead scoring and grading use this blog post: Why Lead Scoring And Grading Is Important.

There are likely lots of marketing activities you do that will produce higher scores. For example, we send an email to all our leads every Thursday with a link to a blog post that explains how to get more benefits from Salesforce and Pardot. Clicking the link and viewing the blog post increases the lead score velocity for these people.

Incidentally, it’s important to remember that scoring works equally well for contacts as leads. However, we often talk about scores in the context of leads, so we’ll stick with that for now.

Why Lead Scores Are Important

Ideally, every week you look carefully at the behavior of all your leads and decide which ones to prioritize.

Look at the behavior of leads and decide which ones to priotize.

By prioritize, we often mean, for example, the lead transfers to a salesperson or Business Development Rep (BDR) for an outbound sales activity. Frequently, this will be a phone call to the Lead.

However, here’s the problem. It’s not practical to scrutinize all the data. Instead, we need a surrogate that helps us make practical use of the information the marketing tool passes to Salesforce.

The surrogate is the lead score. By looking at the scores across all leads, we can identify the people likely to be receptive to sales activity. These are the people most likely to convert to a successful opportunity.

After all, if you only had enough time left in the day left to phone one Lead, which will it be? The Lead with 100 points or another with 50 points?

Based on this information alone, you’ll phone the Lead with 100 points.

This example highlights the essential purpose of lead scores. That is, to prioritize leads and contacts for sales activity.

Lead Score Thresholds

In many companies, there is a lead score threshold. This threshold marks the point at which leads transfer from Marketing to Sales.

Here’s how this often works.

Let’s say the threshold is 100 points. The status changes to a ‘Marketing Qualified Lead’ (MQL) when the lead passes this threshold. At the same time, ownership of the Lead passes to a salesperson or BDR.

The salesperson reviews the Lead and validates the information. If she likes what she sees, she updates the status to Sales Accepted Lead (SAL).

Your lead process may not be as formal. However, you can read more about the lead process, including how MQLs and SALs work here:

How To Fix A Broken Lead Process In Salesforce.

Degrading Lead Scores Over Time

You can make the lead score degrade over time.

Here’s why you might do this:

Let’s take our first example of a lead created ten weeks ago. For nine weeks, the Lead gains an additional 10 points per week. That’s close to our 100 point threshold.

However, things then go quiet. Let’s say this person does nothing to increase the score for ten weeks.

Does the person still have a high priority, just below the threshold for passing to Sales? What if she looks at one web page after nine weeks and reaches the limit?

However, the fact this person has not consumed any content for over two months probably means she’s slipped down the overall priority list. This reduction in priority may be especially true if you have other leads on an upward curve.

Lead degradation is about solving this problem. Every week the Lead does nothing you downgrade the score by, for example, five points.

Degradation reduces the lead score over time.
Degradation reduces the lead score over time.

Consequently, in our example, by the time the Lead visits your web page, her score has dropped to 40 points. This reduction puts her well below the threshold for transfer to Sales, even after she looks at one more web page.

Lead score degradation means that we avoid transferring prospects to Sales that are not actively and regularly engaging with our content.

Nevertheless, here the critical point about lead score degradation:

It tells you which leads are on a downward curve. However, it tells you nothing about leads on an upward cycle.

Why Track Lead Score Velocity

Tracking lead scores over time helps you assign the highest priority prospects to Sales.

That’s because the lead score velocity highlights leads that are currently consuming your content intensively.

Here are four ways you can display lead score velocity in Salesforce to make it a powerful, practical metric.

 

Lead and Contact Report Charts

In this example, we can see how the lead score velocity has changed over time for this person.

We can see there’s a recent, sudden acceleration in the lead score.

This chart shows the week by week net change in the lead score.

We can see the net increase and decrease in the lead score compared to the week before.

These charts make it easy for everyone to understand the lead score velocity for individual prospects quickly.

 

Lead and Contact List Views

List views are predefined database queries. In this example, the List View filters on all Leads where the score has increased by 20 points this week.

Consequently, salespeople can prioritize prospects taking a keener interest in your content.

 

Einstein Search Lists

Einstein Search allows you to create ‘natural language’ lists of leads and contacts. For example, lead score trend change from two weeks is greater than 30.

Using Einstein Seach is a dynamic way to create transient lists of potential customers.

Reports and dashboard charts

It’s straightforward to create reports and dashboard charts that focus attention on high priority leads.

For example, this report shows the week on week changes in lead score velocity.

Report shows the week on week changes in lead score velocity.

The report shows how the lead score velocity has changed each week for leads in the EMEA region. Use this information to help BDRs and salespeople focus on prospects that may be ready to engage in the sales process.

Measure Content Engagement Trends

Here’s another critical way to use lead score velocity.

Tracking the change in lead score over time across all leads and contacts, means you have a powerful way to measure trends in the overall engagement with your content.

Here’s an example from one of our customers. The dashboard chart summarizes the change in lead scores over time for all leads and contacts.

Dashboard chart summarizes the level of content engagement for all leads and contacts.

We can see the level of engagement dipped in March and April but then steadily increased. This trend coincides with a revamp by the customer of the blog post and other content on their website.

Likewise, this chart shows the four weeks moving average for the lead score velocity.

Four weeks moving average for the lead score velocity.

In this case, we excluded leads created more than four weeks ago to avoid skewing the metric.

In summary, these reports and charts that measure the change in lead score over time deliver actionable insight and metrics that you can use to improve marketing performance continually.

Building Lead Score Velocity Metrics

You might be thinking:

I want to track the change over time in leads scores. However, do I implement the lead score velocity metric?

You have two options:

  1. Build the functionality I’m describing next.
  2. Buy it pre-built from us. We’ll do the work and get it up and running in your Salesforce environment.

Reckon on one day of chargeable effort if you want to go with option 2. Here’s how you get in touch with us.

 

How To Build The Lead Score Velocity Metric

Here is what you do.

  1. Create a custom object. Call it Lead Score Trend.
  2. Add fields to record the lead or contact name and company.
  3. Create two lookup fields. One to the Lead, the other to the Contact.
  4. Build a report that includes the Lead Score for all leads. Create a similar report for Contacts.
  5. Create two reporting snapshots. These snapshots push the Lead Score for each lead or contact into a record of the custom object.
  6. Finally, build reports, dashboards, list views, and inline charts to display the data and make it available to Sales and Marketing users.

Optionally, create a batch job that automatically populates the Lead and Contact lookup fields. (You can’t do this using the reporting snapshot). However, it means that lead score velocity records are available on the Lead and Contact page layouts.

If all that sounds a bit daunting, remember you can buy everything ready-to-go from us. Here’s how you get in touch.

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How To Fix a Broken Lead Process In Salesforce (With Free Templates)

How To Fix a Broken Lead Process In Salesforce (With Free Templates)

Since 2003, more than 1,700 companies have come to me, asking for help in getting more benefits from Salesforce. I’ve concluded that no topic causes as much befuddlement in Salesforce as to how to design the lead process.

You’re guaranteed a bun fight if you ask a room full of Sales and Marketing people to agree on how and when leads should pass between the two teams.

Whatsmore, Sales often complain that the leads they get from Marketing are rubbish. Marketing complains that Sales don’t phone the leads they do pass across.

Nevertheless, resolving this situation and achieving a robust lead process is critical. If you don’t, valuable opportunities will get missed, meaning lost revenue. Also, there will be a shortage of meaningful lead conversion metrics and marketing KPIs that can power a continuous improvement in performance.

So it’s worth sorting out.

Fortunately, you’re in the right place. In this guide to the lead process in Salesforce, I’ll:

  • Describe the difference between a lead and an opportunity in Salesforce.
  • Explain the lead process that works in many companies.
  • Highlight how terms like Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) fit into a well-structured lead process.
  • Give you free lead process diagrams and templates that you can adapt to your business.
  • Point you to a free lead conversion dashboard for Salesforce.

Let’s start.

Difference Between A Lead And An Opportunity

Unfortunately, the lead process often breaks down at the start because Sales and Marketing disagree on the difference between a lead and an opportunity.

However, clarity is essential, although often that’s harder than it sounds.

Why is there so much confusion? After all, most people agree that a lead is the first step in the sales cycle.

Here’s why it’s a problem.

 

Sales Definition Of A Lead

To a salesperson, leads come from both existing customers and prospects.

The lead can be an inquiry from an existing customer. Or a new prospect freshly arrived through the door.

Either way, the sales process has started. The salesperson may or may not believe that things are advanced enough to justify creating an Opportunity in Salesforce. Nevertheless, the qualification part of the sales process has started.

In other words, for a salesperson, leads reflect a broad range of early-stage, potential opportunities that require immediate attention.

 

Marketing Definition Of A Lead

The way a Marketing person views a lead often varies in two crucial ways.

First, a lead is a person or business that will potentially purchase at some undetermined point. That point may be a long time from now.

Second, for Marketing people, a lead is usually a new company or at least a new person. Often, they do not exist in the database already. Indeed, the primary role of Marketing in many businesses is to increase the overall lead database for long-term benefits.

Traditionally, Marketing may hand the lead to Sales, but not necessarily with the expectation that a deal will immediately result. The lead is a potential customer that may engage in a future sales process.

In contrast, to a salesperson, a lead is someone ready to enter the sales process right now.

Unfortunately, this difference in expectations explains why Sales often complain about the quality of Leads created by marketing.

That’s not to say Marketing doesn’t deliver sales-ready leads to salespeople. They can, and they do.

That is, providing the lead process is right.

Salesforce Lead Process

Sales and Marketing often disagree on the difference between a lead and an opportunity.

However, in Salesforce, it’s clear. The word ‘lead’ has a specific meaning. It’s a record under the Leads tab.

The lead process describes how new leads are created, nurtured, converted, and handed-over to salespeople for opportunity management.

Here’s how that process can work in simple terms.

Let’s follow this through with an example.

 

Lead As A New Enquiry

Start by thinking of a Lead in Salesforce as a brand new inquiry. This inquiry is from a business and person of whom you’ve never previously heard.

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 automatically appears in Salesforce as a lead.

The lead now exists. What’s the first thing that should happen in the lead process? Answer: check for duplicates.

In Salesforce Classic, you had to click the Find Duplicates button to do this.

In Salesforce Classic, click the Find Duplicates button to merge lead records.

Now, however, you can use the Duplicate Rules to identify matching records.

Duplicate Rules in Salesforce Lightening identify matching lead records.

For now, let’s assume you don’t find any matching leads, accounts, or contacts.

Next, you make an outbound telephone call to the lead. As a result, one of three outcomes will determine what happens next in the lead process.

1. The lead is a dead end.
It turns out the person isn’t interested in any further dialogue. Perhaps it was a student only looking for research information. Or the customer is not in one of the markets you support. Either way, set the Lead Status to Closed. No further action is necessary.

2. The lead is a definite maybe.
The person is moderately interested in your products and services. She doesn’t want to speak to a salesperson – at least not yet. Nevertheless, you agree to send a brochure, product specification, or price list.

So this time, set the Lead Status to Contacted. You also create a follow-up task to call the lead again in the future.

3. The lead is a sales Opportunity.
The lead agrees to a meeting or phone call with a salesperson. Or she requests a quote. In other words, she gives you some indication that she’s a legitimate potential customer. Let’s call this a qualified lead.

This time you leave the Lead Status alone. Instead, click on the Convert Lead button.

Click the Convert button to transfer a Lead into an Account, Contact and Opportunity. Account, Contact, and Opportunity.

Salesforce will convert the lead into three separate records; an Account, Contact, and Opportunity.

Here’s the process in a flow chart diagram.

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

It’s this early stage opportunity that many salespeople will regard as a Lead.

Indeed salespeople are sometimes reluctant to create an opportunity or receive one created by Marketing.

That’s because it tends to raise expectations about the outcome. The opportunity is visible in the sales pipeline dashboard. And from the salesperson’s perspective, the lead may – or may not – have been adequately qualified by Marketing before converting to an account, contact, and opportunity.

All valid issues. Unfortunately, this highlights one of the common pitfalls with the lead process in many companies.

What Happens To Converted Leads

When you convert a lead in Salesforce, you have a choice.

The choice is whether to create an opportunity.

Set the checkbox to True to avoid creating an opportunity when converting a lead.

Let’s say you leave this box unchecked.

As a result, the opportunity links back to the Salesforce campaign that generated the lead.

The lead process links the opportunity back to the original marketing campaign.

Not only that.

The Lead Source carries through from the lead to the opportunity.

Consequently, you have potent reports and dashboard charts, providing information on campaign performance. This information includes marketing metrics and KPIs that enable powerful alignment between Sales and Marketing.

Unfortunately, here’s what often happens instead.

The person converting the lead sets the checkbox to True—the lead converts without an opportunity.

Then, here’s what typically happens:

The salesperson engages with the contact. If the salesperson identifies a legitimate deal, she creates an opportunity.

However, here’s the problem:

The opportunity no longer has any relationship with the campaign or Lead Source. That means there’s no way to gather marketing metrics that describe the success of campaigns or channels.

Consequently, creating an opportunity when the lead converts should be an essential part of your lead process. There are some exceptions that I’ll explain. However, as a rule-of-thumb, if you want high-quality information that drives marketing improvement, create opportunities when leads convert.

Nevertheless, here’s a common objection to this from Sales.

The opportunity is not qualified. It shouldn’t show up on the pipeline report, with all the pressure to close deals successfully that entails.

Fair point. However, to solve that problem, create a new opportunity stage. Call it prospecting, qualification, opportunity validation, or suchlike.

When the lead converts, default the opportunity to this initial stage. Make sure everyone understands it’s acceptable for deals to fall out of the funnel from this stage. After all, if you’re not going to win the sale, it makes sense to close it out early.

Often, companies will exclude these early-stage deals from the main pipeline report and dashboard chart. They create a separate report that focuses only on the initial-stage opportunities.

Consequently, they have great metrics on marketing campaign performance and a clear understanding of the early-stage pipeline.

 

Exceptions To The Lead Conversion Rule

Here are the two exceptions to the rule that you should create an opportunity while converting a lead.

First, an opportunity already exists. In other words, the account and contact are already in Salesforce, together with an opportunity. You don’t want to create a duplicate opportunity.

Second, no opportunity exists. This situation also most commonly happens when the account and contact already exist. The person downloads an eBook, for example, as part of your ongoing lead nurturing process. However, you do not believe there’s currently a legitimate opportunity.

In both of these cases, convert the lead into the existing account and contact records.

Refine the Lead Process

In our first example, we assume it’s good to phone the lead as soon as the record appears in Salesforce.

That’s probably okay if the person completes a Contact Us form.

However, it many cases, the person is not ready to receive a call. That’s because they are still at the pre-salesperson, information gathering stage.

For example, if you download our eBook ‘12 Charts That Should Be On Your Salesforce Dashboard‘, you won’t get a phone call from us.

That’s because we know people aren’t sales-ready. Instead, they are searching for advice on how to get better pipeline visibility. The eBook is one of the tools we use for getting pre-qualified leads into Salesforce.

It works pretty well.

Next, we use lead nurturing to build further engagement and credibility with these people.

 

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing means providing prospective customers with a regular stream of high-value content that educates and informs. This content raises your profile and credibility with these people and makes them more receptive to doing business with you.

For example, after people download our 12 Charts eBook, here’s the first email in our lead nurture process.

Example of an email used in lead nuturing process.

As you can see, it directs people to this blog post that explains in detail how to use one of the essential 12 charts that should be on your Salesforce dashboard.

After that, we continue to send weekly emails that always give great advice on how to get more benefits from Salesforce.

 

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)

A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a person or company in the database that Marketing defines as sales-ready. Sales-ready means that based on behavioral and segmentation data, the person is ready to engage in a mutually beneficial dialogue with a salesperson.

In other words, when a lead reaches the status of MQL, Marketing believes it’s appropriate to ask a salesperson to engage in the sales process. Often, a lead scoring and grading threshold identifies this critical point.

Usually, in the lead process, when reaching the MQL status, ownership of the lead passes to a salesperson.

You may also want to let the salesperson know by using a notification email.

 

Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)

A Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) means a salesperson formally accepts responsibility for a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). This acceptance means the salesperson agrees to engage with the lead and drive the sales process forward.

You might be wondering:

Why wouldn’t a salesperson accept responsibility for a marketing qualified lead?

The answer is that this often happens when:

  1. The lead does not meet the agreed MQL definition.
  2. Salespeople do not trust the leads coming from marketing.
  3. Salespeople have enough on their plate with existing opportunities.

In the first case, the salesperson rejects the lead because it does match the agreed MQL criteria. For example, the lead score velocity is not high enough, there’s no phone number on the lead record, or the lead is not in the target market or country.

The second and third are more likely to apply when there is no definition of an MQL. Effectively, the salesperson says the marketing leads are not high enough on the priority list to warrant spending any time on them.

With these concepts in mind, let’s look at how the end-to-end lead process works in many companies.

Lead Process Template

This diagram describes a lead process that incorporates the MQL and SAL concepts.

Detailed template diagram of the lead process in Salesforce.

You can download a PDF of this example lead process using the form below.

It’s essential to agree on the end-to-end lead process across both sales and marketing. It’s also critical that you decide on the MQL definition that’s relevant in your business and put in place metrics in Salesforce to measure the process.

Lead Process Metrics

In many companies with a robust lead process, there’s an agreement on how quickly Sales will respond when passed an MQL.

For example, this might be 24 or 48 working hours, excluding weekends.

I recommend you set these metrics up in Salesforce:

Metric that measures how quickly Sales respond to an MQL.

Make sure there are reports and dashboards to measure this metric. Agree with Sales on what happens if the time limit is exceeded; for example, the salesperson receives email notifications, or the lead ownership even passes to another team member.

 

Lead Conversion Dashboard

Earlier in this article, I explained how to get robust metrics and KPIs on the lead process.

However, you might be asking:

What’s the easiest way to get these reports and dashboard charts in my own Salesforce environment?

The answer is to install our free Lead Conversion Metrics dashboard. You can do that by visiting the AppExchange Listing.

The dashboard contains reports and charts that quantify leads by channel and lead source. Critically, it also includes metrics on the outcome of converted leads. It even allows you to compare win rates on opportunities that came from converted leads versus opportunities created directly on the account.

Next Steps

Getting the lead process right can be challenging. People in your team may have conflicting views on exactly how the process should work. Likewise, there will be differing opinions on how to define an MQL and the SAL steps.

Your solution:

Ask us to facilitate the lead process design workshop. We’ll help you cut through the ambiguity and implement an effective process customized to your specific business.

Get in touch to find out more.

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Why Lead Scoring and Lead Grading Are Important

Why Lead Scoring and Lead Grading Are Important

Lead scoring and lead grading are vital if you want to boost the productivity of your sales teams.

Why?

Because when you push lead scores and grades from Pardot or Marketo into Salesforce, you deliver a superb way for salespeople to prioritize early-stage prospects.

That means they can focus on the most viable prospects.

Unfortunately, though, many people think this topic is a black art.

That’s not the case.

Nevertheless, using there are some critical elements to understand and get right if you want to use these metrics successfully.

In this article, I’ll explain step-by-step the exact differences between Lead Scoring and Lead Grading and why they are important. Whatsmore, I give you ten best practice tips for getting both of these essential metrics right.

Let’s start.

 

Why Lead Scoring and Grading Is Important

If you only have time to phone one person, who should it be? The prospect with 100 points and an A+ grade? Or the candidate with 10 points and a B- grade?

It’s a no brainer.

You phone the person with the highest lead score and best grade.

That highlights the crucial benefits of lead scoring and grading. Most salespeople (including SDRs and BDRs) have more potential people they could phone than they can manage in a day or a week.

So how do they prioritize?

Lead scoring and grading enable sales teams to prioritize business development activity. They do this by ranking prospects so that salespeople can focus their time and effort on the most viable candidates.

Usually, a marketing automation tool determines the lead scores and grades. This data passes to the CRM system so that salespeople can use the information to decide the best people to contact.

 

The Difference Between Lead Scoring And Lead Grading

It’s behavior by customers and prospects that drives lead scores.

This behavior includes web page views, form completions, attending webinars, and downloading eBooks. In other words, the person must DO something to increase their lead score.

On the other hand, lead grading needs no input from the customer or prospect. Instead, the personal and company data you already hold determines each grade. This data can include location, industry, job title, and other information that helps you qualify and rank prospects.

Consequently, lead scores build up over a relatively long period. This means you might also want to track lead score velocity. In contrast, the lead grade is an immediate measure, although it can also change over time as you gather extra data.

However, which should you pay more attention to? Lead scoring or lead grading?

 

Both Are Equally Valuable

Remember, not all high-grade prospects will have a high score.

The lead grade tells you how closely the prospect fits your ideal customer profile. However, it says nothing about whether the person engages with your marketing activities.

In contrast, the lead score measures a person’s behavior and activity. For example, whether she clicks on the links in your emails; how often she visits your website.

However, can you see how these two methods of prioritizing prospects work hand in hand? Both play an essential role in identifying the best people for sales teams to contact.

Either one is valuable. However, use lead scoring and lead grading together, and you get synergistic benefits that will increase your lead conversion performance.

Let’s talk about how marketing automation tools like Pardot and Marketo calculate lead scores and grades.

 

How Lead Scores Are Calculated

When scoring your prospects, you first decide on the score values for each type of action a potential customer can do.

However, how do you decide on those scores?

Here’s the critical thing:

Worry less about the score value, and more about how the scores compare with each other. In other words, it’s essential to work through how the scores relate to each other.

Let’s say a prospect clicks a link in an email to visit a blog post you’ve written. Let’s also assume that on this blog post, there’s a Call-To-Action to download an eBook.

It doesn’t matter whether you allocate 3 points for clicking the link in the email or 30, provided scores for all other activities are relative.

For example, if you allocate 3 points for clicking the link in the email, you might decide to increase the lead score by another 10 points for an eBook download. That’s assuming, of course, you believe the downloading action is ‘worth’ three times more than clicking the link in the email.

 

Pardot Lead Scoring Example

If you’re feeling daunted, don’t be.

Most marketing tools (including Pardot and Marketo) have predefined values for everyday prospect actions. I find in many companies they fit the bill pretty well.

Here’s an example of how these standard rules work in Pardot.

How Lead Grades Are Calculated

Lead grades automatically adjust based on the data you hold about a prospect.

This data can be about the person, for example, job title. However, the data can also be about the company – industry, the number of employees, and location are frequently used criteria in lead grading.

In contract to lead scores (which are numeric), grades are text (A+, A, A- etc.).

 

Pardot Lead Grade Example

Let’s understand this in more detail by using an example of how the lead grading works in Pardot.

When a lead grade value changes in Pardot, it does this in one of three ways:

1. by a whole letter (D > C)

2. by 2/3 of a letter (D > C-)

3. by 1/3 or a letter (D > D+)

It’s important to note that the initial grade for a prospect in Pardot is always D.

The starting point for setting this up is to edit your Prospect profile. Make sure you add any criteria into your Profile that you’re planning to grade your prospects on.

In the example below, we’ve set up the profile to allow prospects to be graded on the country field.

Notice we have three categories of country (Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary). 

By creating three different criteria categories, we can increase the grade of our prospects in different increments based on the value of the country field.

Add different criteria to your Profile to adjust Pardot Grade in different increments

Let’s say you want to increase the grade by a whole letter (D > C) if the prospect Country = USA.

In the screenshot below, we are checking the field for a specific value, i.e., USA.

We might also want to create rules for the United States, America, etc.

If the prospect Country matches this value, we automatically set the ‘Primary Country’ criteria to match, which sets the grade to increase by a whole letter.

Like this, we can create fine-tune rules for identifying prospects and potential customers that meet our ideal target profile.

 

Lead Scoring And Grading Best Practice Tips

  1. Keep things simple. Simplicity is particularly vital at the outset. It’s a lot easier to add sophistication later than remove complexity. Salespeople need to understand quickly why a prospect has reached a particular score or been given a specific grade. That’s difficult if you have a jumble of lead scoring rules.
  2. Define your target audience. Doing this is essential for accurate grading. Often, I find companies have a blurry or incomplete picture of their ideal prospects. That’s setting yourself up for failure when it comes to lead grading.
  3. Only use the data you collect. There’s no point using Job Title as a grading factor if you don’t receive that data anywhere.
  4. Improve your data over time. Because you don’t currently have a data item, it doesn’t mean you can’t acquire it. For example, use progressive profiling on forms to fill in the blanks about your customers and prospects.
  5. Treat lead scores as a long-term project. How quickly lead scores notch up depends on how much marketing content you share; and how often your prospects engage with it. However, it’s always going to take time for lead scores to grow to a point where the candidate is ready to pass from marketing to sales. Grading, on the other hand, is a quick-win opportunity.
  6. Customize to your company. For example, many companies have specific web pages that indicate positive buying intent (the pricing page, for instance). If you are using the standard Pardot or Marketo lead scores, define the pages that matter most and give visitors more points than other web pages.
  7. Make it easy for salespeople to find high scoring, high-grade prospects. In other words, pass lead scores and grades to Salesforce. Create reports and List Views in Salesforce that help salespeople prioritize calls and other activities.
  8. Display score and grade fields in Salesforce. Both Pardot and Marketo have out-of-the-box features for this. These make it easy to display the scores and grades on Leads, Contacts, and Accounts.
  9. Create threshold email notifications. These emails, for example, alert salespeople when prospects they own reach a score threshold or achieve a particular grade.
  10. Reduce scores over time. This best practice applies to scores rather than grades (unless your target customer profile changes). If prospects don’t consistently engage with your contact, start to reduce their lead score (there are tools in Pardot and Marketo to do this). Cutting the points avoids having prospects at the top of a priority list but who have no recent relevant activity.

 

Marketo even has a great feature that helps salespeople understand how recently a prospect took meaningful action.

It’s called ‘Last Interesting Moment.’ Examples are visited more than five web pages in a day, visited the pricing page, clicked a link in an email, downloaded an eBook. You can also create custom Interesting Moments if need be.

If you’ve installed the Marketo Sales Insight App for your integrated CRM system, you’ll be able to see these Interesting Moments directly on the Lead or Contact.

Use this feature to help salespeople fine-tune their sales activities.

 

Sales And Marketing Alignment

In many companies, there’s only limited sales and marketing alignment.

The result?

The number of sales-ready opportunities passed from marketing to sales is lower than it should be. Consequently, the pipeline is smaller, and revenue is less than might otherwise be achieved.

Why not talk to us about how to get more benefit from Pardot or Marketo in your business? Ask for a free consultation in which we’ll talk-through the key issues facing your company.

Here’s how to get in touch.

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

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

This blog post explains the Lead conversion metrics you should be tracking in Salesforce.

Why are these Lead conversion metrics important?

They’re crucial because your business puts a lot of effort into generating converted Leads.

However, you probably don’t know if these Leads are worth their salt.

For example, do the converted Leads passed from Marketing to Sales and contribute much revenue?

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

Indeed often, I find businesses are poor at tracking Lead conversion metrics. Sometimes they know how many Leads convert to opportunities, but that’s pretty much it.

Unfortunately, the lack of Lead conversion metrics in some companies means they are unable to figure out how to optimize revenue from converted Leads. In short, they don’t know what is working and what is not.

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

However, to do this analysis, you need to monitor more than just the number of converted Leads.

Fortunately, the Lead conversion metrics I explain are easy to implement. And these metrics give you deep insights into how well converted Leads are performing.

You might be wondering:

What’s the easiest way to build Lead conversion metrics in Salesforce?

Install the free GSP Lead Conversion Metrics Dashboard from the AppExchange. It includes all the charts and conversion metrics I describe in this post.

Lead Conversion Process

The metrics assume you have a valid Lead conversion process in place.

This process includes an effective 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 in Salesforce.

What is a Converted Lead?

Let us be clear about the definition of a converted Lead.

Lead conversion occurs when one person (usually in Marketing or Sales) ‘converts’ an existing Lead into an Account, Contact, and Opportunity. Often, this is when the person passes a threshold lead score or grade.

The Sales team pick up the opportunity and drive it through the sales process.

In many businesses, converted leads are the source of most opportunities for new customers (compared to opportunities for existing customers).

For example, a potential customer downloads an eBook. The prospect receives emails over time containing useful material that educates the buyer. The relationship deepens.

The prospect eventually receives a qualification call. If the Lead is ‘qualified,’ then it converts. The resulting opportunity passes to a salesperson.

Contrast this with opportunities for existing customers. In these cases, the salesperson often creates an Opportunity directly on the Account record.

No lead is involved. The opportunity links to an existing customer or prospect Account.

Of course, the number of opportunities resulting from converted Leads compared to the number of opportunities created on existing Accounts is one metric we want to track. We also want to monitor the win rate on both sets of opportunities.

For information on opportunity conversion rates, see this blog post:

How To Measure Opportunity Conversion Rates And Increase Sales

Lead Conversion Metrics

Here are the seven converted Lead metrics I recommend. Measure them all using Salesforce reports and dashboard charts.

1 – Revenue Contribution of Converted Leads.
2 – Opportunity Win Rates from Converted Leads.
3 – Average Opportunity Size from Converted Leads.
4 – Win Rates by Opportunity Owner.
5 – Opportunity Win Rates by Lead Owner.
6 – Opportunity Win Rates by Lead Source.
7 – Opportunity Win Rates by Campaign.

Here’s how each Lead conversion metric delivers insight that helps to increase revenue.

1 – Revenue Contribution of Converted Leads

The Revenue Contribution of Converted Leads metric measures the dollar contribution of converted leads.

It measures the $ value of opportunities from converted Leads. The metric compares this with opportunities that did not come from converted Leads.

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

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

As we can see, converted Leads contribute around one-third of revenue, although this varies month to month.

Here’s the essential 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 one-third 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 high.

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

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

Use the Revenue Contribution of Converted Leads report and dashboard chart to identify the ratio in your business. Think about whether the percentage and $ contribution figures are right, given the sales growth strategy in your company.

Use the following Lead conversion metrics to investigate further.

2 – Opportunity Win Rates from Converted Leads

In this metric, we are comparing the win rate of opportunities that came from converted Leads versus those opportunities created on existing Accounts.

Remember, a converted Lead will usually result in a new Account.

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

The report compares opportunities that started life as a Lead, with those opportunities that the salesperson linked to an existing customer or prospect Account.

The win rate is the ratio of opportunities won versus opportunities lost in a given period. In this case, it’s the current Financial Year.

We have two Lead conversion metrics here.

Win Rate by Count. Compares the number of deals won and lost.

Win Rate by Amount. Compares the value of deals won and lost.

The chart shows that on both metrics, the win rate for converted Leads is lower than the win rate for direct opportunities.

That probably makes sense.

In most businesses, it’s easier to win deals with existing customers than it is with new prospects.

However, to grow the company, you can’t just rely on existing clients. You also need new customers. And often, those new customers come from converted Leads.

The chart also shows that for converted Leads, the win rate by Amount is higher than the win rate by Count. Consequently, successful opportunities had a higher than average deal value.

The reverse is true for opportunities created directly on Accounts. These opportunities did not come from converted Leads.

For these opportunities, the opportunities successfully won had a lower than average value. We can see this because the win rate by Count is larger than the win rate by Amount.

We might expect this in many businesses.

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

On the other hand, does a low win rate on opportunities from converted Leads indicate that leads are not adequately qualified? Alternatively, are salespeople focusing too much on existing customers, where we naturally expect the win rate to be higher?

Think about the questions this lead conversion metrics prompts you to ask in the context of your business.

3 – Average Opportunity Size from Converted Leads

The previous Lead conversion metric tells us about the win rate of opportunities from converted Leads versus opportunities created directly on an Account.

The Lead metric of Average Opportunity Size compares the average value of deals that came from converted Leads with deals created directly on the Account.

On the chart, “Yes” means the opportunity came from a converted Lead. “No” indicates it did not; it was created directly on the Account.

In this example, the average deal size from opportunities created on an Account is higher than for converted leads.

Should you expect this is your business? Or is the position reversed?

Sometimes we expect the average deal size of opportunities from converted Leads to be higher. That’s true when a significant proportion of opportunities on existing Accounts are smaller, repeat business deals.

Alternatively, in other businesses, the reverse applies.

For example, if your approach is ‘land-and-expand,’ then new customer deals may be smaller. Or they may be trials and prototypes.

Again, it’s essential to interpret the numbers in the context of your business. If appropriate, customize the report to examine this Lead conversion metric by the sales team or territory.

GSP Lead Conversion Dashboard

Download the FREE Dashboard from the AppExchange today

4 – Win Rates by Opportunity Owner

The Lead conversion metric compares the win rate for different salespeople. In other words, by opportunity owner.

Again, we are comparing the win rate by number (record count) and value ($ Amount).

In our example, Nick has a significantly higher win rate on converted Leads compared to opportunities created directly on an Account.

We can see this because the green bar (converted Leads) is bigger than the blue bar (opportunities not from converted Leads).

In contrast, Shaun is more successful at winning deals that did not come from converted Leads.

How do we explain this?

Does Nick follow up more proactively on converted Leads? Is he receiving higher quality converted Leads? Is Shaun farming his existing customer base more successfully for new revenue?

Like other Lead conversion metrics, the numbers tell us what questions to ask rather than giving us the answer.

It’s the answer to our questions that enables us to decide the right action.

For extra reading on win rates follow the recommendations in this blog:

How To Measure Opportunity Conversion Rates And Increase Sales

5 – Opportunity Win Rates by Lead Owner

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

Let’s look from a different perspective.

Many businesses have an inside sales team or SDR team responsible for making qualification calls to Leads.

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

Therefore, we need to understand how capable different inside sales reps are at creating high-quality opportunities.

This metric examines opportunity win rates by Lead owner. In other words, the person that converted the Lead.

In our example, we can see that a higher proportion of the opportunities that came from Leads owned by Dave successfully closed. The win rate is much higher than the opportunity win rate for Leads owned by Bruce, for example.

Does this mean Dave is doing a better job of warming-up these Leads as part of the qualification process? Is Bruce converting too many low-quality Leads? Alternatively, is Dave handing his Leads to salespeople that respond more quickly?

Alternatively, can Dave 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 – Opportunity Win Rates by Lead Source

Assessing win rates by Lead Source (lead conversion metric #6) and Campaign (metric #7) are the final two measures.

A recap on Lead Source.

The Lead Source is a standard picklist field that records the originating source or channel of the Lead.

Examples of Lead Source picklist values are Web, Trade Show, Purchased List, Phone Enquiry, and so on.

When a Lead converts, the Lead Source carries through to the equivalent field on the opportunity. Consequently, we can analyze opportunity outcomes by Lead Source.

Remember, the chart and report are not showing the number of Leads created by the Lead source. Instead, they show the outcome of opportunities from converted Leads by each Lead source.

In our example, some Leads sources perform better. For example, Leads that came from a Partner Referral have a higher conversion rate, at least, as measured by the number of Leads.

However, these leads are smaller in terms of opportunity size. We know that because the win rate by amount is lower than the win rate by record count.

The information means we can examine the effort that goes into generating Leads from different sources and review that in the context of the number of converted Leads generated and the opportunity win rate.

7 – Converted Leads by Campaign

The previous Lead conversion metric tracks the outcome of converted Leads by Lead source.

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.

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.

And don’t forget, you can get all the Lead conversion metrics and reports described in this blog post by installing free the Lead Conversion Dashboard From GSP from the AppExchange.

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 described in this blog post give you the tools to do that.

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

Then review each Lead conversion metric. Ask questions about each metric.

And use the answers to drive revenue.

Lead Conversion Metrics Webinar Recording

Watch this video with myself and Dan Bailey to see the Lead conversion metrics in action. Dan and I also discuss best practices for converting Leads and methods for getting feedback from sales to improve alignment with marketing.

GSP Lead Conversion Dashboard

To implement the dashboard charts and underlying reports described in this video and the webinar recording, install the free Lead Conversion Dashboard from the AppExchange.

There are some simple actions to activate the dashboard after you have installed it. Follow the step-by-step instructions in one of these videos to get this powerful dashboard working for you in your business:

Getting Started with Lightning Setup.

Getting Started with Classic Setup.

And, of course, if you have any questions or need advice, then Get In Touch. We’ll help you out.

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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 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

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.

Consequently, 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

Compare Win Rate of Converted Leads with Opportunities

Download the FREE Dashboard from the AppExchange today

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.

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

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

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!

Awesome Pipeline and Sales Performance Visibility

Download the FREE Dashboard from the AppExchange today

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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.

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

Consequently, they have 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@).

However, this is time consuming, and requires more effort to respond to the inquiry.

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.

That probably rings 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.

Moreover, 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.

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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 Salespeople 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. Then 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. Consequently, the GSP team phoned 10 of the leads as part of the research assignment.

Here’s what we found:

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:

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

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.

In other words, 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 this work 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. However, 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.

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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.

Moreover, what if she’s not very good at generating her own leads? There is a serious risk of demotivation 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.

Importantly, 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. Remember, 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 each selling organization.

Companies effective at generating leads are increasingly using technology in order to 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.

However, in many businesses, 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)

12 Must-Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

Marketing leads given to Sales are rubbish, says Dave Apthorp.
Sales don't bother to phone Marketing Leads, says Maria Smith
We wanted to know more about the quality of marketing leads.
Are marketing leads so poor it's not worth salespeople calling them?
We conducted a short experiment to investigate the quality of marketing leads.
12 months ago the team attended a trade show to increase the number of marketing leads.
The aim was to create sales opportunities from these marketing leads.
Sales called all the marketing leads but no new opportunities were created.
That produced a lot of conflict between sales and marketing.
12 months later, GSP did some research by calling all the marketing leads.
The findings from this research might surprise you.
Two marketing leads had subsequently made a purchase.
Two other marketing leads were in the middle of a purchasing process.
One marketing lead was planning to make a purchase next year.
4 marketing leads were not planning to make a purchase anytime soon.
1 marketing leads will never make a purchase.
In summary, half the marketing leads were good quality.
We contacted the marketing leads to find out why they hadn't spoken to salespeople at the time.
Based on our research, the marketing leads told us they weren't ready to speak to salespeople.
The leads were good quality but they were not yet sales-ready.
After the trade show, the activities of these marketing leads were invisible to salespeople.
No-one knew when the marketing leads would be ready to speak to salespeople.
There are six lessons from this research into the quality of marketing leads.
Lesson 1 - marketing leads in the invisible sales pipeline needs to be managed proactively.
Lesson 2 - marketing leads need to be managed over the long-term and this requires patience.
Lesson 3 - lead nurturing is essential to produce sales-ready leads from cold lists.
Lesson 4 - create high quality, useful content to feed lead nurture campaigns.
Lesson 5 - engage with marketing leads only when these prospects are sales-ready.
Lesson 6 - creating high quality marketing leads requires a process driven approach supported by technology.
Apply these 6 lessons to create sales-ready opportunities from your marketing leads.

“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.

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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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Tracking lead scores over time means you can act quickly upon prospects when there is a sense of urgency. We call the change in lead score value over time, the lead score velocity. You can also refer to it as the lead score cadence. Here's an example that reveals why...

Why Lead Scoring and Lead Grading Are Important

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Lead scoring and lead grading are vital if you want to boost the productivity of your sales teams. Why? Because when you push lead scores and grades from Pardot or Marketo into Salesforce, you deliver a superb way for salespeople to prioritize early-stage prospects....

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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.

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