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How To Track Changes In The Lead Score And Highlight Priority Prospects

How To Track Changes In The Lead Score And Highlight Priority Prospects

Tracking how a prospect’s lead score changes over time means you can quickly get in touch with potential customers at the right time.

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.

In other words, often, it’s not the total lead score that’s critical. Instead, it’s the recent change in the lead score.

Lead Score Priority

For example, which of these two leads should you call first?

Let’s say you have two leads created ten weeks ago. And both 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.

Both leads have the same number of points.

However, like you, most 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 the lead a hotter prospect. For guidance on the best way to pass leads from Marketing to Sales, use this blog post: How To Know When To Transfer Leads From Marketing To Sales

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.

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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 your leads’ behavior and decide which ones to prioritize.

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 marketing tool’s information that 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 have 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 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. The score downgrades by, for example, 5 points every week the Lead does nothing.

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 looking 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 means nothing about leads on an upward cycle.

Why You Should Track Changes In The Lead Score

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 to display lead score velocity in Salesforce to make it a powerful, practical metric.

 

Lead and Contact Report Charts

This example shows 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, the lead score trend change from two weeks is greater than 30.

Using Einstein Search is a dynamic way to create shortlists 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 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 your content’s overall engagement.

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.

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.

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.

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The Problem with Marketing Automation Tools

Marketing Automation Tools such as Pardot, Marketo, and HubSpot are great at tracking Lead Score changes on a per-action basis.

When an individual completes an action, such as clicking a link or submitting a form, your marketing automation system can quickly increase or decrease the score based on the rules you’ve previously configured.

However, as previously mentioned, these tools are less capable of tracking the lead score change over time – week by week, for example.

If we take a look at this Pardot Automation Rule, the only options we have surrounding the Score rule are:

  1. Is Greater Than
  2. Is Less Than
  3. Is Between

You’ll immediately notice the lack of ‘has increased by’ or ‘has decreased by.’ Not only that, but there is also no option to control the date range.

As you can imagine, without this functionality, it’s practically impossible to begin tracking the change in the lead score over time.

Pardot, in particular, has an excellent feature called ‘Lifecycle,’ which gives you a clear understanding of how a Prospect’s Pardot Score has changed over time.

However, with that said:

  1. There’s no way to use the values here in an automated Lead Process.
  2. We cannot pull this visual directly into Salesforce.

Tracking and visualizing the change in Lead Score directly inside Salesforce on a per record basis means different solution.

Let’s look at that now.

How To Track Changes In The Lead Score 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 Know When To Transfer Leads From Marketing To Sales

Passing leads from marketing to sales at the right time is critical for maximizing deal conversion rates.

Too early, and salespeople will likely ignore the leads.

Too late, and you are wasting valuable sales opportunities because the prospect has gone elsewhere.

Of course, that lead transfer inflection point varies from company to company. So, how do you know when it’s the right time to pass leads from marketing to sales in your business?

Fortunately, you can use the rules and best practices explained here
to define when to handover leads from marketing to sales in your company.

The Lead Transfer Problem

It’s early December, and the snow is falling outside the building in Illinois.

Inside the room, it’s even chillier.

“The leads we get marketing are rubbish,” exclaims the VP of Sales to the rest of the group.

“How the hell would you know?” spits back the VP of Marketing. “Your team never phones any of the leads we DO give you!”.

The feeling of mutual dissatisfaction may not be as glaring in your company. However, a version of this anecdote often plays out in many companies.

So why does it happen?

Leads That Are Not Sales Ready

It’s easier to identify leads that are not ready to pass from marketing to sales than those that are.

For example, have you ever downloaded an eBook and thought, “That sounds interesting. I’ll read it when I’ve got five minutes.”?

By the way, the image above relates to the most downloaded piece of content on our website: eBOOK: 12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard.

(Don’t worry, we won’t be passing you through to Sales!)

Of course, those five minutes rarely arrive. Some people have an entire library of eBooks they never got around to reading.

Nevertheless, many people are not surprised to receive a call from sales after downloading an eBook. However, how much do you look forward to receiving those calls?

In short:
Most people whose only engagement with your company is downloading an ebook are not yet ready to speak to a salesperson.

In many companies, it’s the same with webinars.

“It will be like shooting fish in a barrel,” the VP of Marketing at a large London-based online training company told me.

Paul had finished a webinar a few minutes earlier—with an impressive 476 new attendees. He passed the spreadsheet over to sales and expected a bumper sales month.

Unfortunately, Paul was disappointed. Do you want to guess how many sales came from those webinar attendees?

That’s right, precisely zero. None whatsoever.

Partly that was because salespeople didn’t phone many of the leads. And those they did phone, the typical response was, “Thanks, I’m just researching at the moment.”

Sales and Marketing Priorities

Here’s the juxtaposition:

Marketing is under pressure to increase leads. Sales are under pressure to increase revenue.

However, the sales team often focuses on reasonably short timeframes. That usually means salespeople don’t have the time, inclination, tools, or skills to convert early-stage, unqualified leads into warm prospects.

That explains why early-stage leads passed from marketing to sales are often ignored. Or, at best, low down the priority list. For salespeople, focussing on opportunities already in the pipeline is a better way to hit your number.

Of course, it’s critical for marketing to build fresh leads. Without them, there’s no longer-term funnel.

And what’s more, there ARE new leads that come into marketing ready to be called immediately by sales.

So here’s the problem:

How do you know which leads to transfer to sales now and which to continue to nurture? And how do you identify those leads that are straightaway hot to trot?

The answer is to make these calls based on five guidelines.

Here they are.

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Five Lead Transfer Guidelines

These are the five guidelines that help you pass leads from marketing to sales at the right time.

  1. Vary the lead handover process based on lead source.
  2. Track changes in the lead score to identify urgent prospects.
  3. Change your method if you have an inside sales team.
  4. Set the bar higher if you are in a mature marketplace.
  5. Flex the lead transfer threshold over time.

Let’s dive in.

1 – Vary The Process By Lead Source

In most CRM systems, Salesforce included the Lead Source picklist tells you where the lead originated.

When you import a list of leads, for example, you manually set an appropriate Lead Source.

However, I recommend you automatically set the Lead Source by using a hidden field on your website forms.
As a result, you can accelerate new leads from specific forms. For example, if the customer completes a Contact Us form, you likely want to push that lead immediately to an appropriate salesperson.

Alternatively, when the prospect downloads an eBook, whitepaper, registers for a webinar, or fills some other non-urgent form, you may decide to add the lead to a nurture program.

In summary: the first step in finding a better way to handover leads from marketing to sales to differentiate your process by Lead Source.

So far, so good.

Let’s talk about a more contentious topic.

2 – Tracking Lead Score Changes

Lots of companies use a lead score threshold to decide when to transfer leads from marketing to sales.

You need to be using a marketing automation system, like Pardot, Marketo, or Hubspot, to make this work.

Points accumulate as the prospect engages with email, web pages, and other marketing communications. Sometimes, points are also assigned based on firmographic information, such as location, industry, or sector.

When the lead passes the threshold, say 200 points, it transfers from marketing to sales.

The lead score is valuable when you need to prioritize. For example, let’s say there’s only time to call one more person today. You have a lead with 500 points and another with 200 points. Which do you phone?

Of course, all other things being equal, you call the lead with 500 points.

However, here’s the rub when it comes to lead scores:

Often, it’s not the lead score that matters most. Instead, it’s the change in the lead score.

For example, let’s say those 500 points accumulated steadily over the last twelve months.

On the other hand, suppose the other lead gathered all 200 points over the last five days.

Which lead do you phone first now?

Most people will go for the lead with 200 points. There’s a greater urgency with this prospect. In other words, it’s not only the total lead score that is important; the pace of change in the lead score is critical.

Bottom line: Use the lead score change as a vital input in deciding when to pass lead from marketing to sales.

For more information on the best way to track Lead Score change and how to view the results inside Salesforce, read this blog post: How To Track Changes In The Lead Score And Highlight Priority Prospects

3 – Existence of an Inside Sales Team

If you have a team – or even a single person – that can engage with low point-scoring leads, then you can adapt your lead process.

That’s because rather than handing leads directly from marketing to sales, you first qualify them using the inside sales team.

Conversely, if you rely only on marketing activities to nurture leads, you rely more heavily on inbound leads.

Here’s why.

  1. When an inside sales team member speaks to a lead, one of three outcomes occurs.There’s no further action. The prospect is not sufficiently interested, or not in a relevant segment, to justify any more effort.
  2. It’s a definite maybe. There’s moderate interest, and you likely schedule a follow-up call.
  3. It’s a qualified lead. The person is willing to engage with a salesperson.

Either way, there’s a lot of time and effort needed to arrive at these outcomes. It’s hard work trying to contact people, there’s a fair degree of rejection, and you often have to work through a relatively large number of leads to get a positive outcome.

Pro tip: If you have an inside sales team, consider using the High Velocity Sales (HVS) app within Salesforce to optimize productivity and results.

In short: adapt your lead process and the point at which you pass leads from marketing to sales, based on whether you have an inside sales team qualification capability.

4 – Marketplace and Product Maturity

Many products and services we take for granted today were novel when first introduced.

For example, 18 years ago, when I first started implementing Salesforce, few people ‘got’ cloud computing. I remember watching Marc Benioff bang about the benefits of multi-tenant architecture in presentation after each presentation.

But here’s the thing.

Back then, Salesforce salespeople would take any lead. There was little or no pre-qualification because the team knew the customer didn’t understand the internet in a business context. Instead, they had to educate prospects about security, flexibility, and access from any device.

Things are different now.

The marketplace has matured. You’d be pretty surprised to hear about a CRM system that needs a bank of in-house servers.

Consequently, the way Salesforce deals with new leads is radically different today. The company employs an army of inside sales team members. There’s an extensive set of qualification questions, and you have to come clean on your business priorities, your buying process, and the stakeholders involved.

In other words, the more unique your proposition, the less informed your buyers, and the more immature the marketplace and your company, the lower the threshold is likely to be for passing leads from marketing to sales.

Bottom line: consider the dynamics of your market, business, and customers when you define the inflection point for transferring leads to salespeople.

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5 – Flex The Lead Transfer Threshold Over Time

You’ve established a lead score threshold, and you are tracking the change in lead score over time. However, it doesn’t mean your lead management process and the point you transfer leads from marketing to sales has to be locked in stone.

There are two reasons why you need to be flexible with your approach over time.

First, tests and experiments will improve the process.

I recommend you use track lead outcomes in Salesforce reports and dashboards.

However, you can also learn from qualitative feedback from salespeople. Using Chatter on the lead is an excellent way to gather this softer feedback on salespeople’s lead outcomes.

Apply both of these information sources to test what works well and what does not. Flex and adapt your process and measure the results.

Second, both the marketplace and your company change over time. Some businesses are swamped with new work during the pandemic. Others are ticking along, and some are merely trying to survive.

The lead management process and marketing-to-sales transfer approach working well one year ago may no longer be appropriate. You will need to change it.

In the future, marketplace and business changes will be (hopefully) less dramatic. Nevertheless, I recommend you regularly review and adjust your lead handover processes.

In short: regularly review and assess how your lead transfer process can improve over time. Experiment with different approaches and test the outcomes using feedback from sales.

What To Read Next

Related Blog Posts

How To Know When To Transfer Leads From Marketing To Sales

Passing leads from marketing to sales at the right time is critical for maximizing deal conversion rates. Too early, and salespeople will likely ignore the leads. Too late, and you are wasting valuable sales opportunities because the prospect has gone elsewhere. Of...

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Track targets in Salesforce including won and pipeline deals

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High Velocity Sales in Salesforce | Complete Guide To How It Works

High Velocity Sales in Salesforce | Complete Guide To How It Works

Many of our customers with Inside Sales Teams are already using High Velocity Sales (HVS) in Salesforce.

It’s an extensive new feature-set, available from the Spring ’20 Release, and is aimed primarily at Inside Sales Teams.

The result? These customers are experiencing significant improvements in the efficiency and potency of Inside Sales reps.

That’s because High Velocity Sales (HVS) in Salesforce resolves two critical challenges facing all Inside Sales Teams.

First, it enables teams to plan, control, and track the sequence of activities and tasks relevant to each Lead or Contact.

Second, High Velocity Sales allows individual team members to organize their activities and schedule their time in a meaningful way. It means, for example, they understand which tasks they should do today and this week.

Consequently, High Velocity Sales (HVS) helps Inside Sales Teams engage with leads and prospects in the right way, at the right time.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn precisely how HVS works. Not only that, but you’ll also see how essential High Velocity Sales features like sales cadences, actions, call scripts, email templates, and Einstein Lead Scoring improve Inside Sales productivity and potency.

We’ve also created a highly detailed video to accompany this article. You can watch it below.

How Salesforce High Velocity Sales Accelerates Your Inside Team Results (Video)

How Salesforce High Velocity Sales Accelerates Your Inside Team Results

If you are setting up or running an Inside Sales Team and want to know everything about High Velocity Sales (HVS) in Salesforce, this detailed guide is for you.

1 – The Problem High Velocity Sales Solves

For most Inside Sales Teams, there are usually hundreds, if not thousands, of leads in play simultaneously.

These leads come from many different sources, including contact us web forms, webinars, ebook downloads, digital channels, and sometimes even purchased lists. It’s the role of Inside Sales to turn these leads into sales-ready opportunities.

Inside Sales also plays a vital role in adding and extending relationships at critical accounts in many companies. For example, the team often supports field reps by seeking out and building rapport with previously unknown stakeholders that influence the buying process.

As a result, the team faces two vital challenges. How well they resolve these challenges determines how effective the team is at delivering sales-ready prospects and opportunities.

 

The Inside Sales Horizontal Challenge

The first challenge is to decide upon the right sequence of activities for each Lead.

For example, a lead that fills out a ‘Get In Touch With Sales’ web form is probably ready for an immediate qualification call.

However, what about webinar attendees? They may not be ready for an immediate post-webinar sales qualification call. Instead, the most effective approach may involve LinkedIn Connections, educational emails, phone calls, and even social media messages.

In other words, the ideal series of activities is likely different for leads that enter Salesforce from various sources, channels, and marketing campaigns. It may also be different for leads in other countries or cultural backgrounds.

I call this the Inside Sales Horizontal Challenge.

Essentially, the Inside Sales problem is how to consistently follow a series of activities relevant to each category of Lead.

High Velocity Sales solves this challenge because it allows teams to pre-define activity templates. These templates are sequences of tasks they must perform with leads from different groups. High Velocity Sales calls these sequences ‘Sales Cadences.’

 

The Inside Sales Vertical Challenge

In many Inside Sales teams, there is no consistency in how everyone keeps track of their activities.

Some people on the team use Salesforce tasks. Others use Outlook activities. Excel spreadsheets and Google Sheets also abound.

The problem is this:

How does each team member keep track of the phone calls, emails, LinkedIn Connections, and other items they should be doing today, or this week?

I call this the Inside Sales Vertical Challenge.

Sales Dashboard by GSP

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Performance Metrics from this free Dashboard.

This problem quickly intensifies as you add more leads to the pile.

High Velocity Sales solves this challenge by using the Lightning Sales Console and Work Queues. These features mean team members have a reliable, robust way of viewing planned tasks across multiple leads and contacts.

It means the team can quickly see the things they must do today, this week, or that are overdue.

Not only that, High Velocity Sales helps Inside Sales to execute these tasks. That’s because it includes automated emails, templates, call scripts, and Einstein Activity Capture.

I’ll show you all these in this guide to HVS.

Let’s dive in.

2 – HVS Sales Cadences

The critical concept to understand within High Velocity Sales is Sales Cadence. They are the vital building blocks in HVS.

Sales Cadences are pre-defined sequences of communication activities designed for leads or contacts that meet specific criteria. Each cadence can include conditional logic and actions, rules, and listening elements that form the communication process.

Inside Sales teams often use these activities to develop relationships with new leads to qualify them as sales-ready opportunities.

For example, you might have a Sales Cadence for people that download an eBook, but who are not ready to engage with a salesperson yet. This cadence may include emails with useful content, LinkedIn connections or messages, and phone calls to inform the prospect of an upcoming webinar.

Likewise, webinar attendees may link to a Sales Cadence. This cadence defines the sequence of activities and tasks for people that attended. There may be a different sales cadence for no-shows.

 

Sales Cadences versus Lead Nurturing

Many companies with Inside Sales teams use marketing automation tools like Pardot or Marketo.

These tools provide advanced lead nurture capabilities, essentially based around email campaigns. For example, the person downloading the eBook may receive three emails, linking to further useful content.

Sales Cadences also include an automated email function. More on this shortly.

The essential difference between marketing automation tools and HVS Sales Cadence is that the former focuses on delivering pre-defined emails. Sales Cadence can have automated emails, but they also include activities that a human is required to fulfill, such as making a phone call or sending a LinkedIn connection request.

Also, bear in mind that marketing automation tools include additional features such as landing pages, lead scoring, and advanced email response metrics. Consequently, many Inside Sales teams will use both toolsets to optimize their end-to-end lead nurture and qualification processes.

With that, let’s get into the three main elements of Sales Cadences within HVS: Actions, Rules, and Listening.

Actions

A Sales Cadence includes up to four types of Action:

1. Call. Make a phone call to the prospect. There’s an option to link a Call Script with this Action.

2. Email. Send an email. This Action can be a manual send or an automated email delivery. Email Templates are involved in this step.
3. Custom Step. This Action is for tasks other than making phone calls or sending emails. ‘Send LinkedIn Connection Request’ is an example of a custom step.
4. Wait. Specifies a waiting period before the next Action commences.
For example, if you want to email a customer once every three days, include a Wait element of three days between the two Email Send Actions.
That’s all of the Actions. Here’s how Rules use actions in HVS.

 

Rules

There is only one Rule Element within the Sales Cadence editor. That rule is ‘Call Result.’

When Inside Sales log a phone call, the Call Result field defines the outcome of the dialogue.

For example, was the discussion positive or negative? Did the person answer the call, or did it go to voicemail? The Call Result field stores this information.

When Inside Sales log the call, the Call Result determines which path the Lead follows in the Sales Cadence.

For example, here’s a ‘Meaningful Connect’ Call Result.

In this example, the Sales Cadence automatically routes the Lead down the Meaningful Connect Call Result path.

Here’s another example showing the Sales Cadence routing the Lead down the Not Interested Call Result path.

Listener

Listener elements in the Sales Cadence await engagement by a Lead with an email. That means they always come after an Email Action in the process.

Like Call Results, Listener elements route the Lead down a specific path within the Sales Cadence.

The Listener tracks three different response types to an email sent using High Velocity Sales: opens, clicks, and replies.

When sending an email via High Velocity Sales, the system will automatically track engagement levels within a set period.

In the example below, you can see the Email Open Element is listening for engagement for a total of 7 days.

When engaging with an email, it automatically moves the Lead down the correct path in the Sales Cadence either straight away or after the set amount of listening time.

It will also inform the Lead Owner of the engagement via the ‘My Feed’ section of the Work Queue. 

You’re probably wondering:

How does all this HVS functionality relate to an Inside Sales team?

Let’s answer that question next.

Interested in seeing a demo of High Velocity Sales in action?

Get in touch today to arrange a walk-through!

3 – How Inside Reps Use High Velocity Sales

Inside Sales team members use High Velocity Sales (HVS) to schedule and organize their work with prospects and leads.

 

Assigning Records to Cadences

Before Records can begin moving through Sales Cadences, a user must assign them to a relevant Sales Cadence.

To assign a Lead or Contact record to a cadence, you have one of two choices. You can either:

1. Click on the drop-down in the top right-hand corner of the Lead or Contact, and click ‘Add to Sales Cadence.’

2. Click ‘Add to Sales Cadence’ directly on the lightning component, Sales Cadence Steps.

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Currently, it is not possible to set up automatic Sales Cadence assignments using standard HVS settings.

However, you can set up an automatic Sales Cadence assignment using Flows, Process Builders, or Apex.

Once added to a Sales Cadence, records will begin appearing in your Work Queue – which takes us onto the next section, using the work queue.

 

Using the Work Queue

The work queue brings all of your Sales Cadences and activities into one single place.

When working with hundreds of different leads at once, it can become complicated tracking who to contact next and which stage in the process various records are currently situated.

The work queue helps users solve these issues and address the Vertical Challenge many Inside Sales Teams struggle with frequently.

The work queue allows users to instantly view which leads they need to communicate with, which Sales Cadence they’re a part of and what specific actions are outstanding.

If you’re using Lightning Dialer, you can connect with Leads and Contacts with the click of a single button.

Regardless of whether or not you’re using Lightning Dialer, upon clicking the Call Button, the previously configured Call Script will automatically load into a popup window, as well as the option to Log A Call.

Users can even send Manual Emails directly from within High Velocity Sales, pulling the previously configured Email Template into the Email before adjusting it as required.

As mentioned in the previous section, HVS will track the engagement of any emails distributed directly from the system.

If your goal is to increase productivity and manage your Leads and Contacts more efficiently, the Work Queue is your number one benefit from HVS.

 

Progressing Leads and Contacts through Cadences

When sending emails and logging calls directly within High Velocity Sales, Leads will automatically move onto the next step after completion.

No need to manually progress the Lead; the system has already taken care of it for you.

However, when working with Custom Steps, the Inside Sales Team will have to tell the system that the action is complete manually.

4 – Configure High Velocity Sales (HVS) Features

To build a Sales Cadence, the essential items that need customizing are:

  1. Call Results.
  2. Lead Page Layout and Fields.
  3. Contact Page Layout and Fields.

Call Results

Using the Call Results feature means you can route prospects down different paths, depending upon phone calls’ outcome.

For example, if the prospect shows positive intent, the path with further activities is appropriate. Alternatively, if the person displays little or no interest, then the track with no follow-up activities may be relevant.

Salespeople record the outcome of each call using the previously mentioned ‘Call Result’ field.

To set up Call Results in HVS, expand the ‘Define Call Results for Branching’ section.
You can use five unique Call Results within a Sales Cadence. These are:

  • Call Back Later.
  • Left Voicemail.
  • Meaningful Connect.
  • Not Interested.
  • Unqualified.

Each of these five Call Results needs at least one corresponding Call Result Value.

In some cases, the Call Result value is identical to the Call Result itself.
For example, the ‘Call Back Later’ Call Result will only ever include a ‘Call Back Later’ Call Result Value on the activity.

In contrast, a ‘Not Interested’ Call Result might be recorded in various ways depending on your business. For example, Negative Call, No Budget or No Time can all be Call Result Values that fit into the ‘Not Interested’ Call Result.

Here’s an example of how your Call Results and Call Result Values might look.

By default, the Call Result field is a text field.

Because of this, we recommend implementing a collection of Validation Rules to ensure only the correct values are entered into the field.

 

2. Lead Page Layout and Fields

Let’s move onto the ‘Configure Lead’ section.

Expand the ‘Configure Lead’ section of the HVS setup page. You’ll see recommendations to display Sales Cadence information on the Lead Page Layout for Inside Sales Users.

However, look first at the ‘Lead Custom Score’ picklist. HVS allows you to use any custom number field in Salesforce as a scoring mechanism.

Importantly, you can enable Einstein Lead Score directly from this same picklist.

Lead Scores help Inside Sales teams prioritize prospects. The score calculates automatically by looking for patterns in previously successful leads. It also provides insights into the Salesforce fields that impact the Einstein Lead Score the most.

Click ‘Get Started’ and follow the on-screen instructions to begin using Einstein Lead Score.

Displaying the Sales Cadence information and fields directly on the Lead page layout is vital for Inside Sales. It means team members can access both standard Salesforce features, Sales Cadence, and Einstein Lead Scores.
In the setup area, there are four recommendations:

  • Add the Sales Cadence Steps component to record pages.
  • Add the Sales Cadence field to list views.
  • Add Sales Cadence to one of the top Selected Fields.
  • Add Sales Cadence actions to customized record layouts.

Here’s how you do each of these.

 

Add Sales Cadence Steps to Page Layouts

Sales Cadence Steps is a new page layout component included with HVS.

When you look at a Lead, Sales Cadence Steps tells you two things—first, the completed cadence steps. And second, which step within your Sales Cadence the Lead is currently on.

If no Sales Cadence is assigned, you can specify a Sales Cadence using this component.

 

Add Sales Cadence Field to List Views

Sometimes you want to see which Leads are linked to each Sales Cadence easily.

To do this, create a List View on the Leads tab. Include the Sales Cadence field.

You can include a filter of ‘Sales Cadence is not blank.’ That way, you only see Leads with an assigned Sales Cadence. You could even do the opposite, and only show leads with no Sales Cadence assigned. Or create both!

 

Add Sales Cadence Top Selected Fields

Inside Sales teams don’t have time to waste searching the page layout for critical information.

Add the Sales Cadence field to the compact view at the top of the record:

Doing this makes it quick for team members to get cadence information.

 

Add Sales Cadence Actions to Page Layouts

The final thing on the recommended list is adding Lightning and Mobile actions to the page layout.

There are only two actions to worry about-adding a Lead to a Sales Cadence and removing a Lead from a Sales Cadence.

Adding these two actions to the page layout includes them in the drop-down list, found the top right-hand corner of the record’s highlight panel.

This way, users can adjust the Sales Cadence assigned to each Lead, based on their interactions.

 

3. Contact Page Layout and Fields

All the HVS changes we have covered in the previous section on Leads applies equally to Contacts in Salesforce.

Make these changes on Contacts if your Inside Sales team works with both Leads and Contacts.

And there you have it. You’ve set up the essential High Velocity Sales features.

However, before you can use it, we need to create some assets.

5 – Building High Velocity Sales (HVS) Assets

Most Inside Sales team members will use HVS assets such as Email Templates, Call Scripts, and Sales Cadences in their day to day work.

Here’s an explanation of each HVS feature.

 

Email Templates

Email templates are pre-written emails stored directly within High Velocity Sales.

A Sales Cadence can send Email templates automatically as one task in the sequence of activities. You must have the Automated Email feature enabled in HVS to do this.

However, Inside Sales team members can also use the templates to send emails to prospects manually.

Using email templates improves Inside Sales productivity. It also high-quality, well-written, and grammatically correct emails are used consistently in the sales process.

 

Call Scripts

Call Scripts in HVS are notes and text that guide the Inside Sales team when talking to customers and prospects.

Call Scripts help to structure the conversation and make sure the dialogue stays on topic. Within HVS, different types of calls will each have a specific Call Script. For example, these scripts often guide the Inside Sales team on qualification questions to ask and discover topics to cover.

Here’s an example of a Call Script inside an HVS Sales Cadence.

Call Scripts are straightforward. They include a name to identify the Call Script in Sales Cadences, a brief description, and the body. The body is where you store the main content, ready to guide the conversation.
As you can see, the content can be highly prescribed and describe the exact words Inside Sales should use. Or it can be more descriptive, providing notes and guidance to steer the conversation.

6 – Setting Up High Velocity Sales (HVS)

If you are completely new to High Velocity Sales, there are some critical first steps.

Let’s start by explaining exactly how to enable High Velocity Sales.

 

How to Enable High Velocity Sales

The first step is to purchase the licenses (HVS is an additional cost). Salesforce will add the HVS licenses and permission sets to your environment, giving you full access to the High Velocity Sales package.

Once your Salesforce system has access to the High Velocity Sales license, HVS can be enabled directly within your Salesforce environment via the Salesforce Setup menu.

To get started, search for ‘High Velocity Sales’ in the Setup Search bar and click the High Velocity Sales section.

Then, click the ‘Set Up and Enable HVS’ button towards the top of the page.

By default, activating HVS will automatically enable a handful of other features within your system. These include:

  • Enhanced Email (elevates Email to a standard Salesforce object).
  • Email Tracking (know if and when customers open emails sent using Lightning Experience).
  • Einstein Activity Capture (keep sales reps’ Email and calendar in sync with Salesforce).
  • Automated Email (lets you include automated emails in sales cadences).
  • Skip Weekends (assign sales cadence tasks to reps on weekdays only).

There are also options to set up email integration and an analytics dashboard.

Most of these features are automatically enabled. However, you can disable any of them later. We recommend leaving them all on for now.

 

Managing HVS Permission Set Assignments

HVS permission sets give specific Salesforce users access to the High Velocity Sales functions.

You decide which of your users need HVS. However, remember, you’ll need a High Velocity Sales license for each person.

To assign HVS permission sets, return to the Salesforce setup area and search for ‘Permission Sets.’

Find the HVS permission set, click on ‘Manage Assignments’ towards the top of the page. Use this to add the permission set to the relevant users.

Make sure you assign the right permission sets to each user.

For example, a High Velocity Sales Cadence Creator can manage and customize Sales Cadences. (Creating Sales Cadences is covered later in this guide).

In contrast, a High Velocity Sales User is unable to create and customize assets. So make sure to assign your users to the correct permission sets.

Get A HVS Demo

We cover a lot of ground in this comprehensive guide to High Velocity Sales.

You might now be thinking:

How do I get an independent demo of HVS in action? That way, I can understand whether it will boost the Inside Sales team in my business.

The answer is to arrange a walk-through of the Sales Cadence and other features with our team. We’ll give you an impartial view of whether HVS is right for your business.

Don’t hesitate, get in touch today.

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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.

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

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.

Let’s say you leave this box unchecked.

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

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.

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.

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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.

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:

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

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Performance Metrics from this free Dashboard.

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.

Lead Conversion by GSP

Detailed win rate and revenue metrics on
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.

Sales Dashboard by GSP

Superb Pipeline Visibility and Sales
Performance Metrics from this free Dashboard.

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.

Webinar | Get Actionable Insight on Lead Performance Metrics

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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Successful Sales And Marketing Alignment | 5 Powerful Best Practices

Successful Sales And Marketing Alignment | 5 Powerful Best Practices

“I’ll prove it to you!” exclaims Jack Kosakowski.

“Let me show you the current state of Sales and Marketing alignment.”

It’s September 12, 2017. I’m attending the London Sales Hacker event.

We’re in the middle of a panel discussion, “Sales And Marketing Alignment Strategies To Build Massive Pipeline”.

Also on the panel is Jack’s marketing colleague, Creation Agency CEO, Jason Sibley.

The two have contrasting views.

“Everyone in the audience that’s in sales, stand up!” orders Jack.

Two-thirds of the 600-strong audience stand.

“Okay,” continues Jack.

“Stay standing if you believe Marketing give you enough warm leads.”

I look around.

Not a single person remains standing.

Jack turns to the rest of the panel.

“See what I mean!” he proclaims, waving his hand theatrically at the seated room.

“Marketing isn’t aligned with Sales at all.”

 

Why Sales and Marketing Alignment is a Good Thing

Sales and Marketing alignment seems like common sense.

If Sales and Marketing work together as one, then revenue generation is more efficient and effective.

The evidence bears this out.

The Aberdeen Group research identifies a direct causal link between Sales and Marketing alignment and revenue growth.

Your own experience will probably concur.

When Sales and Marketing align successfully, revenue increases because:

  • Marketing campaigns focus on the most beneficial topics and channels.
  • Salespeople have a higher volume of well-qualified, sales-ready leads.
  • Sales have the correct quantity and quality of content needed to convince prospects. Both teams agree upon the right time to pass leads from marketing to sales.
  • Marketing deliver company-specific and marketplace insights that improve selling effectiveness.
  • Metrics and qualitative feedback are available for continuous improvement of sales and marketing performance.

What company doesn’t strive for these benefits?

Unfortunately, like many things that sound easy on paper, Sales and Marketing alignment turns out to be more difficult to achieve in the real world.

In fact, in my experience, the lack of alignment is the cause of more angst in business than any other topic.

However, if Sales and Marketing alignment is something that business wants, why is it so difficult?

 

The Sales and Marketing Blame Game

The conflict between Sales and Marketing plays out in many companies.

Sales blame Marketing and Marketing blame Sales.

To quote Tavris and Aronson, “Mistakes were made (but not by me)”.

In other words, both sides blame the other for the repeated failure to turn marketing activity and leads into won opportunities.

There are many reasons for this finger pointing.

  • Goals that do not encourage cooperative behaviour.
  • KPIs that do not align.
  • Personal desire to look good against rivals, including vying for the future CEO position.
  • Short-term sales objectives conflicting with longer-term marketing priorities.

I could probably go on.

 

Popular Strategies for Sales and Marketing Alignment

Do a Google search on Sales and Marketing alignment and you will discover no shortage of content.

In fact, 40.3 million search results.

You’ll even find there’s a Sales and Marketing alignment summit.

To examine best practices for Sales and Marketing alignment, I carefully reviewed the top 50 search results.

You probably don’t want to spend as much time on this as I did, so I created a summary of the recommendations that you can read here.

Some of the recommendations will clearly have a positive impact.

It’s hard to disagree, for example, that a robust lead hand-off process should be implemented, that Sales and Marketing must define and agree the customer buying process and that they must communicate regularly.

Likewise, agreeing common definitions of what a well-qualified, sales-ready lead looks like is a precursor for successful implementation of this process.

Other sales and marketing alignment strategies are more controversial.

For example, potentially not every business will want to make both sales and marketing the responsibility of a single chief revenue officer.

So what else can we do?

 

5 Sales and Marketing Alignment Recommendations

Let’s return to the problem.

Sales and Marketing frequently blame each other for missed objectives.

However, in most cases, as Jack and Jason concur at the end of their Sales Hacker panel discussion, neither side is entirely right nor is either side entirely wrong.

Unfortunately, both Sales and Marketing come to the debate with their own preconceived ideas on the responsibilities of the other.

It’s these ingrained perceptions and, in many cases, preconceived views of the way the world works that determine where each side places the blame.

We need to break out of this narrow horizon to align Sales and Marketing successfully.

But what’s going to smash through the existing paradigm?

Enter center stage: CUSTOMERS and PROSPECTS.

We need the direct involvement and input from customers and prospects.

That may not sound radical.

Yet it’s something many companies hardly achieve at all.

So, here are my five recommendations for Sales and Marketing alignment.

  1. Create an effective open feedback loop with input from customers and prospects.
  2. Create an effective closed feedback loop with quantitative metrics.
  3. Re-shape your end-to-end revenue process and methodology.
  4. Implement a process of continuous marginal gains.
  5. Make project-led structural improvements.

I have applied these Sales and Marketing alignment strategies in many businesses with success.

Let’s go through them.

 

1 – Create an effective open feedback loop

Marketers strive for a closed feedback loop that links lead and opportunity outcome back to the originating campaign.

This closed loop delivers quantitative metrics on lead conversion rates and the efficacy of marketing campaigns.

This is crucial. I’ll explain how to implement an effective closed feedback loop successfully in Recommendation #2.

However, an open feedback loop is something else that provides other benefits.

Input from external sources is what defines an open feedback loop.

In other words, when there’s no external feedback or stimuli coming into play, nothing will challenge existing perceptions or alter the status quo. This sales and marketing strategic recommendation is to create an open feedback loop to gather external input from customers and prospects. Matthew Syed describes it this way.

“Without external input, failure doesn’t lead to progress because information on errors and weaknesses is misinterpreted or ignored; an open feedback loop does lead to progress because the feedback is rationally acted upon.”

To achieve Sales and Marketing alignment we need to break the existing cycle.

It means we need an open feedback loop.

Feedback on success and failure

For the purpose of Sales and Marketing alignment, an open feedback loop means we need input from customers, prospects and leads.

We need this input not to apportion blame, but to understand the customer buying process and to make improvements to our sales cycle.

In other words, unless with have this external input, the status quo will continue. Sales and Marketing will still blame each other for ineffectiveness, because what else is there to do? There is nothing to challenge the existing model in the absence of customer and prospect insight.

Specifically, to break out of this, we need input on the customer buying process in two areas.

  1. We need to learn from success. Why did we win?
  2. We need to learn from failure. Why did we lose?

I recognize the latter, in particular, is a deeply uncomfortable recommendation for many businesses.

Sales Dashboard by GSP

Superb Pipeline Visibility and Sales
Performance Metrics from this free Dashboard.

Unfortunately, getting first-hand feedback on the reasons for failure is something we do infrequently, either as people or as organisations.

However, this is critical.

Think about it.

How often is ‘price’ blamed for a lost deal or an opportunity that does not progress?

I can vouch from personal experience of conducting research on behalf of many clients that price is rarely the root cause reason for a deal sales that doesn’t succeed.

For example, here is verbatim, what one person told me recently:

“Yes they were the most expensive and the price was too high, but if we had wanted to work with them I’m sure we could have gotten around that somehow. The fact is we didn’t want to work with them, so it was easy just to say, ‘your price was too high’”.

Prior to this externally focused research, this company spent many months tinkering with their pricing strategy with no discernible impact on opportunity conversion rates.

It was only after getting external feedback, from customers and prospects that the company began to truly learn why they win and why they lose.

Areas to get external feedback

Here are examples of specific areas on which you can gain valuable qualitative feedback:

  • Why do some unqualified leads fail to become qualified leads?
  • What stops some qualified leads becoming opportunities?
  • Why do some deals not progress beyond the initial, discovery stage?
  • What causes some deals to be lost at the negotiation stage?
  • What is the compelling reason why certain deals are won?

And lots more.

The key thing about this feedback is that it is comes from external rather than internal sources.

Steps to get external feedback

To implement this first sales and marketing alignment best practice, gather external, qualitative feedback in many ways, including:

  • Invite customers and prospects that didn’t buy into the company e.g. a facilitated team meeting.
  • Commission independent in-depth telephone and face-to-face interviews.
  • Get independent observation of live sales calls and visits.
  • Sit alongside the customer in their office and experience ‘walking in their shoes’.

One more thing about external feedback.

Get to the heart of what the customer means. Don’t accept at face value, “I don’t like the brochure”. Discover the underlying reasons; for example, whether this view relates to the core messages, the way the content is written, or the physical appearance.

In an upcoming blog, I’ll expand on this Sales and Marketing alignment best practice by detailing six ways you can get external feedback.

To get a heads-up when this post is live, register here.

 

2 – Create an effective closed feedback loop

The first sales and marketing alignment recommendation is to create an open feedback loop. This creates qualitative, externally sourced feedback that leads to improvement.

However, external feedback is only part of the story.

The second best practice is to gather accurate and reliable internal feedback. You do this through a robust closed loop feedback process.

This needs to happen in two ways.

  1. Insist on quantitative feedback.

Link every lead and opportunity to its source and originating marketing campaign. If no campaign produced the lead or opportunity, record this as well.

2. Insist on qualitative feedback.

On every lead handed-off from Sales to Marketing, whatever the outcome, ensure there is qualitative feedback transferred the other way.

How to implement a closed loop for quantitative feedback

The only effective way to achieve this is by using a CRM or sales automation application.

Unfortunately, many companies fail to implement the closed loop successfully by failing to follow these 5 best practices.

For detailed advice on how to design the closed loop process, read The Difference Between Leads and Opportunities. This blog post contains downloadable process diagrams in Visio and Powerpoint to help get you started.

This closed loop feedback on quantitative data also means you can collect insightful metrics on lead conversion metrics and the contribution that marketing campaigns make to overall revenue.

How to implement a closed loop for qualitative feedback

CRM systems also provide ways to capture qualitative feedback from Sales to Marketing on each lead.

For example, if your company uses salesforce.com, use Chatter on Leads and Opportunities to gather this feedback. To achieve sales and marketing alignment, gather qualitative feedback from sales using Chatter. Create reports that summarise these Chatter posts. Create tags to group Chatter posts together.

 

3 – Re-shape your revenue process and methodology

Your feedback loops are gathering qualitative and quantitative information on your end-to-end sales cycle.

Clearly, that information is of no value unless you do something with it.

So what should you do?

The two things Sales and Marketing must do together with all this information and feedback are:

  1. Re-design your revenue process.
  2. Re-define your revenue methodology.

The difference between the two:

Process is the planned steps you take to achieve something.

Methodology is how you take those steps.

An example:

Your sales process might include a discovery meeting. That’s a step in your process.

Methodology is the way you conduct that meeting. This includes the words you use to introduce the meeting, the questions you ask and the way you agree the next steps.

In other words, the meeting is a process step; the way the meeting is conduced is the methodology.

Some (although admittedly not many) businesses I encounter have a clearly-defined sales process.

The stages of the process are well understood by the sales team. The CRM system reflects this process in its opportunity stages. Reports and dashboards report the pipeline in a consistent way. There is uniformity across the team in terms of the process they follow.

At least, that’s sometimes the case.

However, in these businesses, what is far less uniform is the methodology the team members adopt. Sales people are left to decide for themselves HOW they undertake each process step. These companies can benefit hugely from identifying and sharing best practice and delivering training on how to execute the sales process.

How to re-shape your process and methodology

Sales and Marketing alignment recommendation 3 is about re-designing your process and methodology based on the feedback you have received.

Here are the specific steps to take.

  • Get Sales and Marketing people together in the same room with a large whiteboard.
  • Pick one significant deal your business recently lost (or a deal that withered on the vine).
  • Map the end-to-end sales cycle on the whiteboard.
  • Figure out everything you did (i.e. the process).
  • Describe how you did those things (i.e. the methodology).

Then take these two further steps:

  • Work out how to improve your process.
  • Work out how to improve the execution of that process.

This separation of process and methodology means you focus on both what and the how.

For example, if we had to go after the same deal again, what activities would we repeat? How could we execute them more effectively? What didn’t we do that with the benefit of hindsight, we could have done? How would we do those activities?

Examine more deals

This is what you do next:

Repeat this cycle of examination for a successful deal.

Capture the things that worked well and those that didn’t. With the benefit of hindsight, even though the deal was won, identify the activities whose execution can be improved.

Then do the whole thing again with another deal.

Work through four to six deals.

You know the score:

Figure out how to improve the process and the methodology. Remember to use the feedback from recommendations 1 and 2 to decide what these improvements look like from a customer and prospect perspective.

Document the improvements to process and methodology

Sales and Marketing alignment best practices 4 and 5 explain two ways to implement these improvements.

However, there’s a precursor to implementation.

The sales and marketing workshops will produce many whiteboard photographs, flipchart sheets and handwritten paper notes.

Get it into a structured format.

This means:

  • Process diagram(s) that describe the ideal end-to-end revenue cycle for existing and potential customers.
  • Notes and use cases that articulate how the process is best fulfilled.

Then you’re ready to start implementing changes that will achieve sales and marketing alignment.

 

4 – Continuous process of marginal gains

Now Sales and Marketing have fresh insight.

We understand what works well and what needs improvement.

We have information about success and failure. Your teams have figured out what is important to customers and prospects and what they care about less.

Here’s what you do next.

Implement a process of marginal gains. This is Sales and Marketing alignment recommendation 4.

Marginal gains is the term originally popularized by Dave Brailsford, the hugely successful head of the Sky pro-cycling team. 

Brailsford’s belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement. They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.

But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.

Brailsford believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years’ time. He was wrong. They won it in three years.

Source: This Coach Improved Every Tiny Thing By 1% And Here’s What Happened

Whether sport or business, success or failure is determined by the aggregation of multiple marginal gains.

Each gain may be minimal in itself, but when combined together, they have an irresistible impact.

How marginal gains works

Suppose you’re standing at point A.

You want to get to the top of the hill, point B. Marginal gains is the first way to implement changes that achieve successful sales and marketing alignment. Marginal gains will get you there. Take a small step.

Test whether you went up or downhill.

If you’ve gone uphill, take another small step in the same direction. Test again. Repeat the process.

If you’ve gone downhill, take a small step in another direction. Test again.

Keep repeating this process and without fail, you will get to the top of the hill. You’ll eventually arrive at point B.

Applying marginal gains in your business

Marginal gains mean you identify multiple ways in which you can make small improvements. Make enough of them, and you have a significant advantage.

So this is what you do.

  • Apply the feedback you gained and work out the many small ways in which you can improve the customer and prospect experience.
  • Refer to your sales and marketing funnel. Look for small changes that will improve the conversion ratio at each point.
  • Examine the end-to-end lead generation and sales process. Search out the multiple small changes that together, will collectively add up to a big difference.

Remember, every error, every flaw, every failure and every piece of adverse feedback, however small, is a marginal gain in disguise.

Sales and Marketing must regard this information not as a threat, but as an opportunity.

Finally, how do you decide which marginal gains take priority for implementation? That’s why you did Recommendation 3. You worked out what was important to customers and what was not.

Focus on the marginal gains that customers and prospects care about the most. The ones that relate most closely with the unique value your business adds.

Test marginal gains

Here’s what many people forget about marginal gains.

They forget about testing and measuring.

“Marginal gains are not about making small changes and hoping they fly. Rather, it is about breaking down a big problem into many small parts and then rigorously testing to establish what works and what doesn’t”. Mathew Syed. Black Box Thinking.

In other words, test everything. Make changes and validate that they have the result you anticipate.

How do you do this testing? Keep using the open and closed feedback loops we describe in Recommendations 1 and 2.

How to implement a marginal gains process

Implementing a marginal gains approach successfully requires a structured approach to communication and decision-making.

Here’s an example of how Modernis embedded this dialogue to achieve Sales and Marketing alignment.

In this company, marketing pass leads to inside sales reps. The inside sales reps aim to turn these leads into qualified appointment for field reps.

  • The inside sales team leader meets daily with the marketing team leader.
  • Each field rep speaks daily with his or her inside sales rep to discuss leads and appointments.
  • Each regional sales manager has a weekly face-to-face meeting or conference call with the inside sales team leader and the marketing team leader.
  • The VP of Sales and VP of Marketing hold a weekly conference call. They also meet formally face-to-face monthly.

The format of the discussion is the same in every case. Here’s the agenda:

1. Review:
Quantitative results and metrics.
Qualitative feedback from reps.
Qualitative feedback from customers and prospects (this happens only on a weekly basis).
Results from tests on marginal gains previously implemented.

2 Agree:
Those changes that will maintained and those to be reversed.
New marginal gains that can be tested.

There’s a formal method for recording these conversations in the CRM system.

Team leaders review these records in their weekly meetings. The VPs of Sales and Marketing do likewise.

This approach has transformed Sales and Marketing alignment. It gives both a common purpose, strategy and framework for working together.

The result at Modernis is an uplift in opportunity conversion rates of 17%.

5 – Make project-led structural improvements

Seeking marginal gains is something you do every day.

My final Sales and Marketing alignment strategy is something you do once or twice a year, sometimes not as often as that.

Look at this diagram of two hills. A sales and marketing alignment best practice is to implement step change improvements. You’ve already climbed the first hill. Marginal gains and continuous improvement got you from point A to point B.

Better design

Marginal gains work for day-to-day improvements. As we’ve seen, it’s highly dependent on testing and feedback to check each step.

However, it will never get you to point D, the top of a mountain. That mountain represents a better design and a better way of doing things.

The problem is that when you are at point B, the top of the smaller hill, a small step in any direction always takes you downhill.

To scale the mountain you need the vision and confidence to take a big leap.

Make that leap in the right way and you will likely land at point C.

Then what do you do?

Start again seeking marginal gains. Test each change.

And you know what?

Through a combination of step-change and marginal gains you will eventually arrive at point D.

How to make the big leap

To make that leap, to get to point D, you need a better design. A fundamentally different and improved way of doing things.

That might be a marketing automation system. It can be the introduction of new products or services. A new sales strategy. A culture change.

It may be many other things.

Above all, however, it’s a visionary step change that results from detailed analysis of quantitative metrics, salesperson feedback and qualitative input on success and failure from leads, prospects and customers.

These major leaps require a formal, structured transformational project.

You need to do all the things you expect from a successful project: robust business case; clearly defined scope; agreed goals and objectives; realistic implementation plan.

But you know where it starts. It starts with feedback and input from external sources, combined with innovation to produce a best-in-market revenue cycle.

Sales and Marketing Alignment in your business

“You know what?” says Jack Kosakowski at the end of the Sales Hacker panel discussion.

“Sales can’t live without Marketing and Marketing can’t live without Sales.”

He’s right.

Break through the existing paradigm and Sales and Marketing enter a beautiful relationship.

A relationship that can play-out in your business if you follow these five compelling strategies on Sales and Marketing Alignment.

If you got value from this article:

  • If you think this is a solid article that other people will benefit from reading, I would be delighted if you share it on LinkedIn.
  • To get a heads-up when we publish our next Sales Enablement blog, register here.
  • I’d love to discuss these concepts with you in more detail. Simply fill in our form or give us a call (number at the top) and we’ll arrange to talk.

Good luck.

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40.2 Million Google Search Results On Sales And Marketing Alignment | Summarized

40.2 Million Google Search Results On Sales And Marketing Alignment | Summarized

Search for sales and marketing alignment in Google and you get 40.2 million results.

I know this because I did a lot of research for my own article on Sales and Marketing Alignment | Proven Strategies For Success.

Although I must admit. I didn’t review all 40.2 million.

Just the top 50. Results, not pages.

Here’s a summary of the most popular suggestions on sales and marketing alignment from those Google search results.

For each suggestion, I’ve highlighted a recommended article. Bear in mind that these articles make their suggestions specifically in the context of sales and marketing alignment.

See what you think about each.

Then, examine my own recommendations for sales and marketing alignment in your business.

Sales and Marketing Alignment Popular Suggestions

1. Amalgamate Sales and Marketing Roles

In this scenario, a single person heads-up both Sales and Marketing.

Often this is in the context of forming a single, consolidated Revenue Function. The aim is to remove conflict over competing goals, priorities, and objectives.

This is exactly what Coca Cola did.

Recommended article:

Why Is Sales And Marketing Alignment All Of A Sudden So Important?

By Mike Lieberman

 

2. Make revenue the only objective

Judge both Sales and Marketing only on hitting the revenue quota. Everyone therefore has the same purpose and shared goal.

That way, conflict and blame disappear.

In other words, align Sales and Marketing around a single goal. That goal is revenue.

Recommended article:

Sales And Marketing Alignment: Why Marketing Leaders Need To Step Up

By Kara Burney

 

3. Define and agree Marketing KPIs

This popular recommendation involves defining and agreeing a number of core marketing metrics.

These metrics usually relate to Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and Sales Accepted Leads (SALs).

Recommended article:

Sales And Marketing Alignment: The 8 Metrics That Matter

Author not specified.

 

4. Communicate more

In some companies, Sales and Marketing rarely meet or engage in meaningful dialogue.

It sounds reasonable that sales and marketing need to communicate more if they are to align successfully.

Other recommendations along these lines include having marketing listen-in on sales calls and spending time out in the field. Creating a weekly email and going for a beer and pizza together also figure.

Recommended article:

10 Tried-and-True Tips for Sales and Marketing Alignment

By Carolina Samsing

 

5. Agree buyer personas and the customer journey

This recommendation is to agree what the ideal buyer looks like.

That way, the end-to-end sales and marketing processes and all marketing collateral centres on the profile of the ideal buyer and the process in which they engage.

Recommended article:

Sales and Marketing Alignment: Best Practices for Building a Revenue Machine

By Craig Rosenberg

 

6. Re-design the end-to-end revenue process

Take a long hard look at the end-to-end process and agree jointly how to improve it.

The emphasis is on optimizing the end-to-end process. To do this, many companies have rightly extended the traditional opportunity-based funnels to include additional, earlier stages.

For example, here’s the funnel advocated by Marketo.

The model emphasises the increased role of Marketing at each stage in the sales funnel.

To improve Sales and Marketing alignment, Marketo recommend a joint focus on improving the conversion rate at each successive level in the funnel.

For maximum impact, consider the buyer persona during this exercise. Then produce content and communications that guides and encourages people through the funnel.

Recommended article:

What Is Marketing and Sales Alignment?

https://www.marketo.com/marketing-and-sales-alignment/

 

7. Agree the Marketing-to-Sales hand-off process

Successfully converting sales-ready leads to won opportunities requires an effective hand-off process from Marketing to Sales.

Many commentators advocate a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between Sales and Marketing on the hand-off process.

This SLA stipulates that, when Marketing pass a lead to Sales (based on pre-agreed qualification criteria), Sales will call the lead within a defined number of working hours.

Recommended article:

Lead Conversion Best Practices | 5 Proven Best Practices

Me, Gary Smith

 

8. Create better Content

Research by CEB (now part of Gartner) reveals that on average buyers are 57% of the way through the buying cycle before they engage with vendors.

It’s a popular statistic.

It implies buyers are consuming content on the web long before starting a buying process that is visible to sellers.

Our own research, interviewing prospects and customers on behalf our own clients, also bears this out.

It makes sense therefore, that creating better content and finding a way to get this in front of prospects will increase the chances that a buyer will choose to speak to a vendor.

Recommended article:

Sales and Marketing Alignment: Stop Talking, Start Understanding

Author not specified

 

9. Implement a marketing attribution model

Most B2B sales cycles take 3 to 4 months. Often longer.

In fact, if you include the time prospects spend searching for solutions and reviewing vendors before they actually engage with a potential supplier, the timespan extends significantly in some industries.

So how do you assess the contribution of your various marketing campaigns and web content to this extended sales cycle? How does Marketing prove to Sales that they really are having an impact? How do we quantify the contribution of Marketing to the revenue generation effort?

A marketing attribution model is one answer.

Attribution means value is assigned to all marketing campaigns that ‘play a role’ in the end-to-end sales process.

In other words, attribute a percentage of the opportunity amount to all campaigns on which a prospect responded.

Recommended article:

Revenue Attribution: The Missing Link To Your Marketing-Sales Interlock

Author: Eric Bauer

 

10. Create a content-based funnel

Research by Sirius Decisions found that 60 – 70% of all content churned out by Marketing goes unused by Sales.

IDC put the figure at 80%.

I doubt you know the statistic for your company, but we can all probably recognize that vast amount of content created for Sales goes unused.

The research identifies three key reasons for this.

Salespeople:

  • Aren’t aware the content exists.
  • Don’t know where to look for it.
  • Think there’s too much content to sift through, therefore don’t bother.

On this basis, here’s a popular recommendation for achieving better Sales and Marketing alignment: Create relevant content and get better organised.

This means putting all the marketing collateral in one place. Make it easy to search and find relevant material.  It also means communicating to salespeople about the content created by Marketing.

Recommended article:

10 Ways Sales Teams and Content Marketing Can Work Together

Author: Jonathan Franchell

Don’t forget:

Check out my 5 Compelling Recommendations For Sales And Marketing Alignment

 

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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. 

Here is salesforce lead conversion best practice #1:

Create an Opportunity when the Lead is converted. Do not check the ‘Do Not Create Opportunity’ checkbox.

The exception to this is when converting a Lead into a matching Account and Contact that already exists. I deal with this exception below.

However, if you are converting a new lead, it’s best practice to simultaneously create a new opportunity.

 

Create the opportunity upon conversion – Rationale

Two important pieces of information transfer from the lead to the opportunity when you create an opportunity during lead conversion.

Firstly, the Lead Source on the lead maps to the equivalent field on the opportunity. This means you can produce reports and dashboard charts on the contribution of different Lead Sources to revenue.

Here’s an example of the open pipeline by Lead Source. 

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

These metrics mean you can track the contribution of each marketing campaign to the sales pipeline and revenue growth.

For example, here’s the pipeline by Campaign. 

Opportunities not created upon lead conversion

Remember, we are talking about new leads here; not leads that match existing Accounts and Contacts. More on that in a moment.

Here’s what happens in some businesses.

The lead converts with the ‘Do not create opportunity’ checkbox ticked.

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.

Lead Conversion by GSP

Detailed win rate and revenue metrics on
converted leads.

Next, convert the lead.

Let’s say you decide there is no new opportunity. Alternatively, there may already be an open opportunity on the Account that’s in progress.

This time, check the ‘Do not create opportunity’ checkbox.

Salesforce recognizes there’s an existing match on the Account.

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

No new opportunity is created.

However, the campaign information passes to the Contact. This means you can see the campaign history on the Contact. 

Further reading on lead conversion best practices #1

This blog post describes a Marketing Dashboard for salesforce that gives examples of the reports and charts using Lead Source and Campaigns.

Use the dashboard to generate powerful insight on marketing effectiveness in your business.

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

 

Best practices #2: Convert before passing to Sales

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

Next question.

Who should do the converting?

Here are your choices.

  • Option 1. The marketing or inside sales team convert the lead and pass the Account, Contact

    and Opportunity to sales.

  • Option 2. The lead passes to sales and the salesperson converts the lead to an Account, Contact and Opportunity.

This is lead conversion best practices #2:

As a rule, have marketing or inside sales convert the lead and pass the Account, Contact and Opportunity to sales.

This is why you should adopt salesforce lead conversion best practices #2.

  • The risk that lead conversion best practices #1 is broken, reduces significantly.
  • Valuable sales time is not spent re-qualifying leads. An opportunity is a more concrete manifestation of a potential sales deal.
  • Qualifying leads and judging when to convert the lead, is a skill in its own right. If you are doing this day-in- day-out then you are likely to be better at it than the average salesperson.

Converting leads before passing to sales gives a clear delineation between roles.

Centralizing this activity within marketing or an inside sales team also means tighter control of conversion processes and lead follow up activities.

However, implementing best practices #2 means there must be clear agreement between sales, marketing and inside sales on when leads should convert.

It also requires a robust process and unambiguous configuration in salesforce to support this process.

 

Exceptions to best practices #2

In small companies, the marketing, inside sales and salesperson may be one person.

In this case, this salesforce lead conversion best practice tip does not apply.

However, in larger businesses, where these functions are separated, it is generally better for leads to be converted before they’re passed to sales.

 

Further reading on lead conversion best practices #2

We explain the lead conversion process in detail. It includes process diagrams that you can download and use to kick-start your lead conversion arrangements.

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

Best practices #3: Convert leads when sales-ready

When is the right time to convert a lead?

That’s one of the great business challenges of our time.

Here is lead conversion best practices #3. It’s the Goldilocks advice:

Convert the lead when the person is sales-ready. Not too warm and not too cold. In other words, when the lead is ready to speak to a salesperson.

Of course, this begs the question:

How do we know when the lead is sales-ready?

Sometimes it’s easy.

A lead fills in a web form requesting a call. You’re quickly going to ascertain whether there is a potential sales opportunity. If so, convert the lead straight away.

However, here is the mistake I often see.

Leads convert and pass to sales far too quickly.

An example:

The marketing department of one of our clients ran a webinar.

They got an astonishing 800 registrants. 400 people attended the live session.

Marketing immediately passed the leads to sales.

“It will be like shooting fish in a barrel,” said the VP of Marketing.

Only it wasn’t. In fact, hardly any deals materialised.

Many of the leads were not sales-ready. They attended the webinar for early-stage education. They did not immediately want to buy.

In addition, sales were ill-equipped to suddenly deal with 4 to 800 new leads.

Here are three factors that influence lead conversion timing:

  • Channel. An inbound phone enquiry is at one of the scale. Leads from a purchased list are at the

    other.

  • Market maturity. Leads will generally convert more quickly in companies that are transforming marketplaces with new, innovative products unfamiliar to buyers. If you operate in a mature marketplace with lots of competitors, it will be longer before leads are sales-ready.Engagement. For this, you ideally need a marketing automation platform such as Marketo or Pardot integrated with salesforce. These applications help you quantify more scientifically when leads are kept sales-ready.

Few people ask their partner or spouse to move in at the first sign of interest. It’s the same with leads.

Convert the lead when there is evidence of commitment.

Recommended reading on lead conversion best practices #3

Why Sales Complain About Marketing Leads

CLICK TO SHARE ON LinkedIn: Lead Conversion Best Practices #3

 

Best practices #4: Compare win rates

Is all this effort worth it?

Do the converted leads contribute anything to revenue?

That’s a mystery in most companies.

However, here’s an example of a salesforce dashboard chart and report that compares sales revenue from converted leads with opportunities created directly on Accounts. 

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: 

Sales Dashboard by GSP

Superb Pipeline Visibility and Sales
Performance Metrics from this free Dashboard.

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.

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!

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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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