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Do Not Hire Part 4 – Evaluating Lead Management Systems

Part 1 of the Do Not Hire That Rep series suggested sales leaders not automatically replace the bottom performing sales rep (or bottom 10%) when management decision or attrition takes them out of the organization.   Part 2 said that instead, investing that same cost into the remaining, successful sales team provides a greater likelihood of returns – particularly when compared to the low odds for success most see with new sale hires right now.   In Part 3, we explored the use of in-bound and out-bound lead generation as the best approach to increasing sales effectiveness by better focusing on higher probability targets at a lower cost per lead. Now in Part 4 of the series we focus on the required features and functions of the tools and solutions that best automate the lead management and nurturing process.

The primary sales benefit of integrated lead management is tracking and reporting on the digital behavior of prospects to determine when they have entered a research state or are ready to buy. Knowing when a prospect goes from unqualified to qualified ensures higher quantity of leads at the lowest cost, since expensive sales resource is not being wasted tracking unqualified prospects.   There are now several feature rich tools available to automate the lead management process.  In fact, some tools have so many features that it is possible to build in too much complexity.  A best practice is to implement a basic process first then add features and capabilities as you become proficient at managing the activities.

When you are ready begin evaluating the following lead management systems consider these features and capabilities (just remember know your markets, targets and messages before you try to automate anything!).

The ability to launch and track emails and newsletters

This function is critical to effective nurturing and drip campaigns. Having knowledge of who opens your email and the ability to track when they click through to your website will allow you to understand their specific area of interest and will also help to establish a lead scoring methodology. The tool can also be used to automate the drip marketing function. If a prospect shows interest in a specific area, workflow rules in more advanced products can automatically email a white paper or other relevant information to the prospect either immediately or on predetermined schedules, an excellent way to stay top of mind with your prospects.

Lead Scoring and Prioritization

The ability to track who specifically is reading your outbound messaging, who visits your website, what they look at, and how long they look are important components of lead scoring. Large amounts of activity by senior executives would rate a higher score than lower activity by less senior people.  The benefit is this process keeps sales focused on leads that achieve high scores, meaning their activity has shown they are in research or buy mode.   Advance thought needs to be given to establishing your scoring methodology to ensure you know when a prospect moves from unqualified to qualified.  Having the capability to include category tags or fields in your lead database is important for more refined scoring approaches.   This feature is also available in more advanced products.

CRM Integration

By integrating your lead management system with your CRM system it is possible to track prospects real time. The minute a prospect hits your qualified stage it can be automatically moved into your CRM system and assigned to the right rep for immediate action.  If the sales organization determines it is not yet qualified they can move the prospect back into the lead management system for additional tracking and nurturing. This ensures no prospects leak from your funnel.

Analytics and Campaign Measurement

This key capability is what ties together the all the push, campaign and content delivery elements of the more advanced lead management systems.  This feature allows you to track visitors to your website and determine who is actively researching or interested in your products and services.  It tells how they originally reached your website, and what features of your offerings they’re most interested in learning about based on the pages they visit and the downloads they complete.  Visitor analytics information also helps you to refine and fine tune your scoring process.  It’s hard to achieve this level of integrated dashboard with disparate tools – so to really make this work seamlessly consider only the more advanced lead management offerings.

Now that you have the right targets, the right messages, the right tools, how do you build and motivate a high performance team?  We will finish this series with Part 5; Now, Hire That Rep!

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