Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Managing Leads

Managing leads is a topic that always worth revisiting, because it's a place where things so often go wrong. I won't repeat the points in this great little MarketingProfs piece on the subject, but I'll call attention to one of their recommendations: "Know the sales process."

In most effective sales organizations, the sales force adheres to a standard set of practices that pertains to sales stages, training, forecasting, quota, bonuses, activity levels and how they pursue and generate leads.

A considerable amount of time is spent training and developing these sale processes, yet Marketing rarely has a firm grasp on how or why salespeople perform their duties. Yet, without that knowledge, how can marketers possibly expect Sales to take them (or their leads) seriously?

Ask yourself, when is the last time a member of your marketing team was seen in the "sales pit" or on sales calls? If you can't remember... it's been too long.

I've seen this part ignored so many times, but it's critical. If your processes for managing leads (particularly scoring them and handing them off to sales) aren't in sync with the sales team, things are not going to work. And while you may think that the way things are done in sales is not right, in most cases you're better off working with it first and then talking the your sales management about how you think it can be improved.

Otherwise, as happens all too often, you'll have a sales team complaining about "those worthless marketing leads" and become the handy scapegoat when somebody misses their quota.

3 comments:

Michael Wagner said...

"A considerable amount of time is spent training and developing these sale processes, yet Marketing rarely has a firm grasp on how or why salespeople perform their duties."

That is the disconnect I see all the time.

I was spoiled - my first sales professional experience was with Saturn. The brand, the marketing and the sales process all fit together.

My next sales experience was just the opposite and I soon learned it is the norm.

Great post and thanks for extending this conversation!

Mary Schmidt said...

Yes, that disconnect is all too common. Back in my corporate America days, I was fortunate to work with several managers who felt it was imperative that we work closely with sales. I spent a lot of time in the field, seeing how things really worked. Went on sales calls, made presentations, put deals together and so on. (I also had P&L responsibility so I was very, very interested in helping the sales teams be successful.)

And, I asked salespeople to serve on development teams (with quota relief/credit for their time) so they could understand the challenges of getting something out the door.

Then, sales follows the process - except when they don't. Another issue in lead gen and management is - regardless of the process, software, training - salespeople, by their very nature, hate paperwork and reporting. They want to be out selling.

Maureen Rogers said...

Marketing people should regularly participate in sales calls - nothing like seeing a prospect draw a blank on something you thought was brilliant messaging - and should sit in on pipeline reviews to see - among other things - how those leads are moving along.