The 6 Stages of Successful Lead Management

by Eloqua on March 22, 2011 in Lead Quality

What makes a lead management process successful? There’s no easy answer. In the real world implementing lead management requires a degree of science, art and consensus. But that doesn’t mean there are no road signs along the way. If you are considering implementing a lead management process, here are 6 Stages of Lead Management Implementation to give you a sense of what to expect.

Create Consensus
The first step in building a sustainable lead management process is a psychological one. Yet, it is probably the most difficult and important step of all. When you implement a true lead management system, you are agreeing to more than sales and marketing alignment – you’re agreeing to greater accountability. For some marketing teams moving from the old way of doing things can be jarring, and unwelcome. If you don’t have buy-in up and down the chain – if your marketing team isn’t open to accountability – then no technology in the world can really get you in line with sales.

Envision The Funnel
Chances are your sales team already has a sales cycle in place, along with appropriate stages (“confirmation”, “negotiation”, etc.). Before marketing even sits down with sales, it needs to create a vision for what an integrated sales and marketing funnel looks like. What stages would exist within the funnel and what actions occur within each stage? Alignment is meant to deliver on the needs of both sides of the funnel: marketing wants their leads accepted by sales and sales wants better quality leads. Leave room for discussion with sales, but don’t walk in with a blank sheet of paper. You should be 90% of the way there before you ever meet with sales.

Write Your Dictionary
Once marketing has put together their vision of the funnel, it’s time to get in line with sales. This can be the most impassioned part of the process. Disagreements over the definition of a marketing qualified lead or sales qualified opportunity may abound not only between departments, but even within departments. It’s important to focus on the goal, which is establishing a predictable funnel – from prospect to closed sale. Giving sales an open view into your lead qualification and lead scoring practices is an effective way to build trust.

Pulling The Trigger
Once you have some common definitions, it’s time to understand and automate the triggers. What actions move a lead from one stage to another in your lead management system? If sales accepts or rejects a lead, that needs to be visible across the system. Marketing automation can make this movement seamless, but you still need to figure out who will take the charge as the administrator or administrators of the system.

I Do This, You Do That
Your definitions are in place. The triggers have been mapped. Now it’s time to get some service level agreements with sales. If sales accepts a lead, there needs to be an understanding of what they agreeing to do with that lead. They should be following up on the lead within a certain timeframe to prevent expiration, for instance. Similarly, if a lead is a rejected, it should be fed back to marketing for continued lead nurturing to measure sales readiness for the future.

Benchmarking Is Your BFF
A crucial stage within any lead management system is an ongoing one. With all the data your collecting, you’ll have better insight into what’s working and what’s not. If you’re seeing lags within the process, you should be able to examine the data and pinpoint the pain in the pipe. Perhaps a sales rep needs better training? Maybe you need to re-think some of your definitions? Maybe it’s just the economy you face? Whatever the case may be, the data will help identify the issue. Keep the conversation going with sales and you will find inventive ways to overcome obstacles to continued revenue performance.

The Six Ingredients of Lead Management  

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