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Webinar | Power Metrics For Lead Conversion Success

Webinar | Power Metrics For Lead Conversion Success

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

We promise you fresh insights.

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

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

Lead Conversion Success Webinar Topics

We will demonstrate how to:

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

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

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

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

I’m looking forward to you joining us.

Compare Win Rate of Converted Leads with Opportunities

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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.

Awesome Pipeline and Sales Performance Visibility

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Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

Are Sales Right To Complain About Marketing Leads?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We weren’t ready”.

” We didn’t have stakeholder support”.

“I didn’t have a budget at the time”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Manage the invisible pipeline pro-actively

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

2. It pays to be patient

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

3. Lead nurturing is essential

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

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

4. Useful is the new cool

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

5. Engage sales when prospects are sales ready

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

6. Marketing is becoming increasingly process and technology driven

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

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

Recommended Reading

5 Sales And Marketing Alignment Recommendations That Nail It

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

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5 Mistakes To Avoid With Salesforce Leads

5 Mistakes To Avoid With Salesforce Leads

Most businesses should be making use of Leads in salesforce.

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

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

But here’s the thing.

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

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

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

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

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

Mistake #1. Not using Web to Lead

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to avoid or fix this mistake

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

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

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

Mistake #2. Not using Lead Assignment Rules in salesforce

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

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

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

How to avoid or fix this mistake

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

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

Mistake #3. Not linking Leads to Campaigns

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

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

But it goes deeper than that.

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

How to avoid or fix this mistake

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

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

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

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

One more thing whilst were on this topic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to avoid or fix this mistake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s another example.

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

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


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

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

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

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

Read the full story here.

How to avoid or fix this mistake

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

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

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

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

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

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The Crucial Difference Between A Lead And An Opportunity in Salesforce

The Crucial Difference Between A Lead And An Opportunity in Salesforce

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

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

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

But that can be harder than it sounds.

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

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

Sales person’s definition of a Lead

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

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

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

Marketing person’s definition of a Lead

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

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

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

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

Definition of a Lead in salesforce

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

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

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

1. Lead as a brand new enquiry

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the process in a flow chart diagram.

Process diagram for qualifying a new Lead in salesforce

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

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

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

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

2. Leads that match existing Lead records

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

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

What if one or more matching Leads had been found?

Search for duplicate leads in salesforce

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

Here’s the process diagram.

Lead qualification process diagram with duplicate lead records

3. Leads that match existing Contact records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Lead Qualification Process Diagram with Matching Account and Contact

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

When to Convert a new Lead into an Opportunity

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

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

Defining who should convert a new Lead into an Opportunity

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

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

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

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

The difference between a Lead and an Opportunity in salesforce

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

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

Free lead management process diagram download

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

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Get in Touch

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

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Innovate marketing to boost sales ready leads: Event 11th December

Innovate marketing to boost sales ready leads: Event 11th December

Register Event CTA MiddleBoosting revenue means increasing the number of high quality leads given to the sales team.

Simple to say. But how do you achieve it?

Join us on 11th December and we’ll show you how. We’ll demonstrate how to innovate marketing and lead generation activities to drive sales ready leads.

We’ll cover:

  • How marketing automation tools such as Marketo, Pardot and Hubspot are radically transforming marketing and lead generation.
  • How to create and use high quality content to attract new prospects and increase leads.
  • How to integrate with Salesforce.com to create a powerful, end-to-end sales and marketing process.

We’ll demonstrate exactly what terminology such as lead nurturing, content marketing and lead scoring actually mean. And we’ll do it all using live examples and practical demos.

Date: 11th December 2014
Venue: 9 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YF
Start: 9.00 for 9.30 AM
Finish: 12.30 followed by light lunch.

It promises to be an action-packed event. We’d be delighted to have you join us. Simply fill in the form below.

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Who’s in your invisible sales pipeline?

Who’s in your invisible sales pipeline?

In the age of the internet most purchasing processes begin long before the selling organisation becomes aware of it. Invisible buyers perform invisible Google research. They narrow their invisible choices. They invisibly decide which companies to contact. And start forming an invisible sales pipeline.

Increasingly businesses are not only starting to get visibility of this invisible sales pipeline. They’re influencing it. And the result is a constant stream of sales ready leads.

Invisible Sales Pipeline

So what exactly is the invisible sales pipeline? It’s the investigation and research processes that potential buyers go through before they’re ready to talk to a potential supplier. In our model we identify four stages in the invisible sales pipeline.

Invisible Pipeline

In summary:

  • Problem Awareness. The buyer becomes aware of a problem she’s experiencing or an opportunity that might be exploited. The buyer typically spends time researching the web, casting around for information that will help build her understanding of the problem or opportunity.  Example: “I know our employees travel a great deal and incur a lot of expenses but no-one ever has any robust information on the costs.”
  • Potential Solution. The buyer understands more about her problem. She starts to identify ways in which she can solve her problem.  Example: “It looks like we need an effective travel management system.”
  • Candidate Solutions. The buyer has settled on the overall solution. She starts to research the potential companies that can provide this solution.  Example: “There’s 10 companies that seem to have the type of system I need.”
  • Preferred Suppliers. It’s not realistic to talk to every supplier. So the buyer narrows down the list of companies she’s going to engage with.  Example: “I’ve identified the three specific travel management system vendors that I want to talk to.”

Of course it might not be as linear and well defined as this. But you get the idea. And however you define the buying process in your industry, most organisations have no idea the potential buyer is going through it.

Sometimes though they get an inkling. The potential buyer goes to a conference and is scanned. Or she enters an email into a form in order to download a document.

But often what then happens is that the ‘lead’ is passed to the sales person. So the sales person calls the lead, who in turn replies, “No thanks, I’m not interested in a meeting.” Or words to that effect. “Those leads from Marketing are always rubbish”, thinks the sales person. And doesn’t bother to phone the next one.

Is this the best lead process that can be achieved? No. Over the next 6 weeks we’ll be publishing several more blog posts that explain:

  • How you can get visibility of buyers in the invisible sales pipeline. Short answer: use marketing automation applications such as Hubspot, Marketo and Pardot. And integrate them with Salesforce.com.
  • How do you influence prospective buyers in the invisible sales pipeline? Short answer: create compelling and useful content that educates and influences the buyer as she moves through the various stages of the buying process.
  • How and when do you pass a prospective buyer from the invisible sales pipeline to the sales team. Short answer: when your lead scoring and prioritisation mechanism tells you it’s the optimum time.

The invisible sales pipeline doesn’t need to remain invisible. Stay tuned by following us on Google+

Awesome Pipeline and Sales Performance Visibility

Download the FREE Dashboard from the AppExchange today

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9 Must Have Charts On Your Marketing Dashboard

9 Must Have Charts On Your Marketing Dashboard

Identifying which Salesforce marketing campaigns have generated the most number of sales ready leads is critical to improving marketing effectiveness.

So here’s 9 charts that we think should be on the Leads & Marketing Salesforce dashboard for sales and marketing alignment.

For full insight, combine these charts with our recommendations on tracking lead conversion metrics.

1. Leads by Lead Source

The Leads by Lead Source is a simple chart that gives good information on where new Leads are coming from. The underlying report is based on a standard field on the Salesforce Leads page layout called Lead Source.

Don’t confuse Lead Source with the Campaign. There may have been multiple trade show Campaigns for example, with the number of Leads generated for each trade show shown on the Campaign. The Lead Source tells us how many Leads we generated from all Trade Shows compared to other sources.

The Leads by Lead Source gives information on the marketing dashboard on where new Leads are coming from.

The dashboard data is displayed as a doughnut chart in the example above. It could alternatively be represented as a pie chart or stacked bar chart, summarised by month. Don’t forget to include the time period in the chart footer – Leads Created this Financial Year in this example.

Drilling down from the dashboard to the underlying report gives the user more information. In this case we’ve grouped the report by Lead Status but other summary options might include Country or Lead Rating. Incidentally the report shown above is a Matrix rather than Summary report. Here’s why it’s better to use a Matrix rather than a Summary report,  “When is a report not a report? Matrix versus Summary reports”.

2. Number of Leads created by Lead Status

The Lead Status chart tells us how many Leads have been created each month and what has happened to them. This includes information on the number of Leads that have been converted to Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities each month (shown in orange on the chart below).

The Leads by Lead Status report on the marketing dashboard tells us how many leads have been created each month and what has happened to them.

This is valuable information in telling us about the quality of Leads that are being generated and how effective we are in following them up.

3. Leads by Lead Owner

Tracking the number of Leads by Lead Owner means we can understand how effective different sales people are in converting Leads to Opportunities. Be sure to analyse this in conjunction with other factors. Some people may be allocated Leads from better quality sources for example.

The Leads by Owner Leads report on the marketing dashboard means we can understand how effective different sales people are in converting Leads to Opportunities.

The report might also highlight sales people that are overloaded with Leads. This in turn may explain why some sales people have a disproportionately high number of ‘Not Contacted’ Leads. Or perhaps some sales people are much quicker at following up new enquiries than others.

The chart above is based on current Lead Owner – this may be different to ‘Created By’. If information is needed on the number of Leads created by different users then track this in a separate chart and report.

4. Opportunities by Lead Source

When a Lead is converted, the Lead Source is automatically carried through to the equivalent field on the Opportunity. This means the number and value of Opportunities by original Lead Source can be measured.

The opportunities by lead source report on the marketing dashboard shows the number and value of Opportunities by original Lead Source.

This chart tells us how productive our various Lead Sources are in generating sales pipeline and Won deals. We’ve created a separate blog post “10 Sales and Pipeline Charts that should be on your Sales Dashboard” for that explains to to gain visibility of sales performance and the sales pipeline.

12 Must-Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

Download the FREE eBook from our website today

5. Campaigns with Campaign Members by Type

The Campaigns with Campaign Members chart tells us how many people (Leads and Contacts) are associated with each Campaign. Of course a Lead or Contact may be associated with multiple Campaigns and will therefore be included within the report multiple times i.e. once for each Campaign with which the Lead or Contact is associated.

The Campaigns with Campaign Members report tells how how many leads and contacts are associated with each marketing campaign.

You may want to filter the report to include only certain types of Campaign e.g. events such as trade shows, seminars and conferences. Bear in mind the report shows the total number of Leads and Contacts associated with each Campaign. It doesn’t tell us whether these people responded positively to the Campaign. This is covered in subsequent reports.

6. Campaigns with Campaign Members by Status

This report gives essential information on whether people are responding to our Campaigns. The Campaigns with Campaign Member report tells us the respective Status of all the people (Leads and Contacts) associated with our Campaigns. As such it’s a fundamental indicator of how well our Campaigns are performing.

The Campaigns with Campaign Member Status report on the marketing dashboard shows the status of all leads and contacts that are associated with the marketing campaign.


In the example above, the green bar shows the number of people that have ‘Responded’ to each campaign, compared to those with a ‘Sent’ status. Control the Campaign Member values that can be created for each Campaign by clicking the Advanced Setup button on the Campaign page layout.

7. Campaigns with Opportunities

The majority of Campaigns are run with the direct purpose of generating additional revenue – so the number and value of Opportunities generated from each Campaign is a key metric we want to measure. The underlying report uses the Primary Campaign Source field on the Opportunity page layout to identify relevant Opportunities.

This field is automatically populated when a Lead that is associated with a Campaign is converted to an Opportunity. It can also be manually populated if the Opportunity is created without an originating Lead.

The Primary Campaign Source field on the opportunity means we can measure marketing ROI across different marketing campaigns.

A key challenge with this report is ensuring the integrity of the Primary Campaign Source field on the Opportunity. In many organisations, sales people are expected to ‘self generate’ Opportunities from customers and prospects, not just rely on marketing Campaigns. Setting the Field History Tracking for the Primary Campaign Source field is one way to identify if the Campaign Name has been changed or removed subsequent to Lead conversion.

An additional issue relates to the fact that multiple Campaigns may have influenced the decision makers within the customer organisation. How do we know which Campaign was the most influential in generating or concluding the deal? To resolve this, use the Primary Campaign Source field to record the Campaign that led to the Opportunity being initiated. Then use the Campaign Influence report to track those additional Campaigns that are associated with relevant Contacts. You’ll find the option ‘Campaigns with Influenced Opportunities’ under Campaigns when you click New Report.

8. Campaign Return on Investment (ROI)

Most Campaigns have a cost associated with them. Even an email Campaign may have a small delivery cost or expenses associated with template design by an external agency. And the cost of trade shows can be very substantial indeed. This means we need to measure Return on Investment (ROI) of the various Campaigns.

The Campaign Return on Investment report on the marketing dashboard tells us how effective each marketing campaign is in generating additional revenue.

The chart shows two metrics. Firstly the ROI %. Second, the Value of Won Opportunities. Both are taken from the respective standard fields on the Campaign page layout.

Strictly speaking of course the total revenue associated with a Campaign isn’t the ROI. It’s the total revenue associated with the Campaign. Accurately calculating the ROI would require the profit or margin on the Opportunity to be determined and for this value to be compared to the cost of the Campaign. This might be difficult to achieve in some organisations so we’re going to settle for calculating the ROI based on the revenue value of Won Opportunities in our example here.

9. Why are Leads being Closed?

Not every new Lead will convert to a successful Opportunity – far from it. So collecting information on why Leads are set to Closed by sales people gives us valuable feedback on the quality of Leads being generated.

The reason leads are being closed can be understood on the Closed leads report.

To implement this chart, create a custom picklist field called Closed Reason on the Lead. Make the field mandatory and link it to the Lead Status using the dependent picklist function.  Only the ‘Closed Not Converted’ value in the Lead Status should have any dependent values – this way the mandatory Closed Reason field will not be applicable if the Lead Status has any other value.


These 9 Lead and Marketing Charts will give your salesforce dashboard powerful visibility of the effectiveness of your salesforce Campaigns. Use these reports and charts as starting points – modify, adjust and enhance them to meet the specific needs of your organisation. And don’t hesitate to give us any feedback – on either the charts in this blog or ideas you have for other marketing and lead generation charts.

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