To Accept or Not to Accept – Lead Acceptance Policies

Challenge: How to ensure leads passed to your sales team are truly qualified.

Lesson: The tighter the lead qualification and acceptance rules, the less leaky your sales funnel.

Challenge: How to ensure leads passed to your sales team are truly qualified.

“We want the Glengarry leads!” Have you heard your sales team complaining about the quality or quantity of leads? Are the leads you’re delivering turning into actual opportunities in your pipeline? These are common issues and they’re resolved by defining clear expectations and points of handoff.

The solution is relatively simple but requires tight integration between sales and marketing. It starts with a clear definition of a qualified lead. While never truly a science, you can set qualification requirements like buying timeframe, budget allocation, identified pain point, willingness to meet with a sales rep, etc. These need to be clearly communicated to both your lead qualification reps and your sales reps so everyone is on the same page and has the same expectations. Once in place, lead development reps can deliver a qualified lead to a sales rep in the salesforce automation system that’s notifying the sales rep.

The real trick here is to have an enforcement mechanism where the sales rep has a defined time interval to accept or reject the lead. If the time passes, either the reporting or the lead development rep needs to raise focus on this qualified lead that has no sales feedback. If the sales rep rejects the lead, they need to identify which qualified lead criteria were not met. Once accepted, your sales reps must create opportunities in the salesforce automation system. This prevents sales reps from accepting any lead because they will be held accountable for these opportunities in their sales forecast reviews. However, you need your sales operations manager to ensure that all accepted leads are indeed converted into opportunities.

Lesson: The tighter the lead qualification and acceptance rules, the less leaky your sales funnel.

Cleanse Your List with Every Registration

Challenge: How to maintain a clean database when customers, resellers, consultants and others are constantly registering for various materials on your website.

Lesson: Database cleanliness is next to godliness.

Challenge: How to maintain a clean database when customers, resellers, consultants and others are constantly registering for various materials on your website.

Great marketers have learned the value of the marketing database. Most companies have built websites with offers that encourage visitors to register by providing key information. Moreover, there are different forms: Register as a reseller; request a demonstration; download a whitepaper, etc. This becomes a database hygiene challenge when customers and partners come back and register for a whitepaper, then later show up as a new prospect. If you’re doing your best to offer information targeted at customers versus partners versus customers, how do you keep your lists clean?

What’s required is diligence in the use and maintenance of your salesforce automation systems. You likely have a process by which the finance group creates an account for new customers as soon as they purchase their first product(s). Whether this involves your salesforce automation software or an independent application, you need to create a monthly process to identify all new customers that month and specifically to add the email domain associated with these contacts e.g. ‘apple.com’ for Apple computer. Likely a bit of manual work is required to modify this list so you can have a customer account name matched with the email domain name for that customer.

With this list, the last step is to upload to your marketing automation system creating a file representing all of your customer accounts and their associated email domains (e.g., xyzcorp.com). Build a program in your marketing automation system to match all new web form registrations and then create the appropriate object in your salesforce automation. If the prospect registering uses an email domain that matches a customer account, the marketing automation system will create a contact associated with that customer account. If there’s no match, a lead will be created.

So with a bit of monthly manual work – and creating an account matching program, you can have most all registrations fill into the right buckets. The result is a database that is more accurate, so your messages to customers, partners and prospects go out with the right content. For marketers, it’s all about getting the right message to the right person at the right time. Your hit rate will increase dramatically with good database hygiene.

 Lesson: Database cleanliness is next to godliness.

Tradeshows – Opportunity or Black Hole?

Challenge: Tradeshows can be an effective component of a marketing plan, or they can be a black hole for time and money. The challenge comes in determining one from the other.

Lesson: Less is more. Select fewer shows but analyze them completely before attending, and perform a post mortem every time to see if you achieved your objectives.

Challenge: Tradeshows can be an effective component of a marketing plan, or they can be a black hole for time and money. The challenge comes in determining one from the other.

A number of years ago, tradeshows were a place where business deals were struck and sales contracts were signed. Since the dot-com burst and the 9/11 tragedy, there has been a general downturn in tradeshow attendance. There are divergent objectives from every source: attendees, exhibiting vendors, resellers, consultants, job seekers and others. How do you determine if whether or not to attend a show?

The primary benefits of a tradeshow for the exhibitor include a multitude of opportunities, such as: sales leads, reseller recruitment, press/analyst relations, employee recruitment, awards and competitive assessment. There are certainly additional advantages, but these cover the main benefits. Creating a list of all the direct and indirect costs for a show is relatively straight-forward: floor space, travel, booth rental/creation, travel, shipping, demo development, signage, etc. The challenge is quantifying the benefits  before you agree to exhibit. Create a list of measures you will use to evaluate the show before you sign up, such as:

  • Sales Leads/Opportunities:  # leads, # opportunities and revenue
  • Reseller development: # new resellers, training of current resellers, reseller program rollout
  • Employee recruitment: # of interviews, # hires
  • Awards:  specific awards your organization will qualify for and apply for, with a good shot at winning
  • Press/Analysts:  # briefings, # articles,
  • Consultants: # briefings, # sign ups

Once you decide to attend, you’ll need a detailed show plan that takes into account who is attending, their function and what you expect from them. You can’t achieve your goals without specific action plans designed to address each of the show dates.

Also, keep in mind there’s a benefit to continuity—attending the show year after year, that is. Your second attendance at the show will be much better than the first – as long as you take detailed notes and perform a post mortem with input by all involved – from sales, channels, marketing, etc. Generally speaking, I would recommend doing fewer shows and doing them more completely with the analysis above. Year over year, you will have a stable of shows that work very well for the company and can then experiment with a few new shows each year. Sure, some will be duds, but others will turn into long-term successes that will add significant value. At the end of each show, ask yourself – did we get the value we expected? This will guide not only your decision on whether to attend again, but also on which other shows may perform well in the future.

Lesson: Less is more. Select fewer shows but analyze them completely before attending, and perform a post mortem every time to see if you achieved your objectives.