SalesForce.com is built around objects within the CRM that are aligned with specific functions within the sales process with examples being Leads, Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities. When I first started in CRM consulting I struggled with the concept of a “lead” within a CRM. SalesForce.com provided a definition of a lead as being: “A lead is a prospect or potential opportunity – a person you met at a conference who expressed interest, or someone who filled out a form on your company’s website.”
The challenge that I was experiencing was knowing how to effectively use leads within a CRM. I came from a Fortune 1000 company and they provided products that all businesses needed (cell phones) and they had a sales team large enough (200+ reps) to assign high value accounts to the sales reps (Account Territory CRM Model). This included the majority of business within Canada. The primary use of CRM objects within this model was Accounts and Contacts with limited use of leads.
As a consultant, many of my clients that would be considered small and medium businesses do not have the resources to employ large sales teams; as a result they are not able to use the Account Territory CRM Model. My small and medium customers need to rely heavily on Push and Pull marketing campaigns to drive qualified leads expanding the requirement for lead management. To service these clients I came up with the “3 stages of a CRM lead” allowing me to expand the use of leads within SFDC to meet the needs of my clients.
Stage 1: Lead Acquisition – The lead acquisition functionality should allow for the simple and efficient acquisition of lead data into the lead management system. The acquisition functions must be able to support a variety of marketing channels and methods that include both push and pull techniques of capturing data.
• Push – Mailings (fax, paper and email), fairs and trade markets and phone (call centers).
• Pull – websites, SEO, landing pages, newsletters and blogs.
Stage 2: Lead Filtering and Assessment – Supporting the Push or Pull marketing are lead management system and process that will have some intelligent methodology for filtering and assessing lead data into useful categorizations that identify customer need and timing.
Stage 3: Lead Conversion – Once the lead has been determined to fit the profile of the ideal customer and has been qualified as sales ready by spelling out the responsibilities and account-abilities of the participants the lead is converted to an account, contact and opportunity. The sales person expands on sale sales process by establishing the BANT (budget, authority, need, and timing) with the customer.