Tuesday, June 28, 2011

7 Steps to Follow

Excellent Advice from Pat McGraw:

How to improve lead management and conversion rates

Posted: 22 Jun 2011 08:37 AM PDT


Here’s a simple 7-step process that you should consider whenever your searching for ways to improve the performance of your sales team.

Couple of terms to be defined here – a “lead” is a potential buyer that hasn’t been qualified yet; a “marketing qualified lead” requires marketing to examine the information provided by the “lead” and to determine if it meets certain established criteria so that the lead can be either handed to sales or placed in the nurturing process; a “sales accepted lead” is a marketing qualified lead that is sent to for review and it is determined that the lead should remain with sales; and a ‘sales ready lead’ is one that is asking for proposals and in the buying process.

  • Develop a lead scoring process. This is simple to do – check out this video and template. For example, in a B2B setting, I recently helped a business develop a scoring process that focused on
    • Industry (5 points for the primary target industry, 3 for secondary, 0 for other)
    • Location (5 points for US based company, 3 for Canada and Mexico, 0 for other)
    • Revenue (5 points for $250 to $500 million, 3 points for $100 to $249 million, 0 for other)
    • Title (5 points for senior-level technology, 3 points for mid-level technology, 0 for other)
    • Need (5 points for products we offered, 0 for other)
    • Time Frame to Purchase (5 points for within 90-days, 3 points for 90-180 days, 0 for other)

Their web forms and telephone scripts asked for this information, and it was captured in their database for automatic scoring. If the lead scored above a certain level, they were considered ‘marketing qualified’ and were sent to sales. Below a certain level, they were placed into the nurturing campaign so we could continue to develop a relationship and attempt to gain more information that impacted the score.

  • Establish a set time frame for marketing to score the leads and send only the top scores to sales. Since research tells us that the timeliness of your response has a significant impact on whether or not you get the business, scoring leads should happen ASAP. That’s why an automated process for companies that drive a large volume of leads is key – but for companies that drive a smaller volume, I have seen a manual process work just fine.
  • Require Sales to respond back to marketing that those leads have been accepted – this is called a Sales Accepted Lead. This is important for two reasons. First, there’s nothing worse than sending leads to sales and having them get lost in the process. Been there, done that. Second, by requiring Sales to accept the leads, you get them to check the quality and agree that they are valuable. This reduces, if not eliminates, the age old game of “…the quality sucks” because Sales has to accept the leads.
  • Establish a set time frame for sales to contact the lead and determine if they are qualified so that a “Qualified Status” is inserted into the CRM file. Again, a timely response increases your chances of winning the business AND this is another way of getting Sales to buy-in to the quality. If they feel the leads are quality leads, more get worked and less get ignored which means your business has a great chance of closing more business with the same number of leads.
  • Establish a process with strict time frame for lower scoring leads that have not been Marketing Qualified to be placed into the nurturing process. Sometimes you won’t get all the information you need right off the bat – but what you get indicates that the lead has potential. Those lower scoring leads need to get right into the nurturing process so you provide the lead with a timely, relevant response. (And make sure you continue to ask for the information you need in order to update the score!)
  • Establish a process with a strict time frame for a Marketing Qualified Lead and Sales Accepted Lead to be returned to marketing for nurturing because the lead is not Sales Ready. This scenario is typical for a lead that meets most of your criteria and scores high enough to get handed over to Sales – but [ex] isn’t planning on making a purchase for the foreseeable future. By placing them into the nurturing process, you can manage the relationship in a more affordable way and position your company for the sale when the buyer is ready.
  • Establish a specific time frame for sales to work Sales Accepted Leads before they must be returned to the nurturing program. Sometimes all the data indicates that the lead will buy soon but they don’t get off the dime and buy. Meanwhile, you are continuing to provide the salesperson with new leads – and since no salesperson can adequately manage hundreds or thousands of leads, it’s best to take those slow to buy leads and place them in the nurturing program. If they remain with the salesperson, chances are pretty strong that they will be ignored – and that could cost you that future sale. (I know this is a tough one – taking a lead from a salesperson who will tell you they can close anything. But it’s best for the business so let the sales team focus on selling, not nurturing.)

Hope these help – let me know what you think and if you have used other approaches that have worked.

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