How to Implement Lead Management in Your CRM System

All sales reps want solid, qualified leads. Not surprisingly, the CRM upgrade that sales reps request most frequently is lead generation and management. Unfortunately, this type of software has a long way to go before it will be really useful. To understand why, let’s look at the early adopters – the high tech firms that always get the newest software technology before it becomes generally available.

According to the analyst firm IDC Research, approximately half of marketing investment across the tech vendor community is allocated to demand generation. Furthermore, about one-third of that investment is earmarked to directly support the sales force. That’s a significant commitment, but new research from IDC shows that, for most high tech vendors, this complex and expensive intersection of marketing and sales remains very much a “work in process.” In other words, they don’t know how to make this stuff work yet.

IDC undertook the study to find out which IT vendors have demonstrated best practices in lead management process development and execution. While IDC hoped to discover best practices, the study revealed that marketing’s lead management process at a majority of tech vendors failed to provide even the most basic element: establishing a consistent global definition of what constitutes a “qualified lead.” The high tech vendors were also unable to deal with other aspects of lead generation, such as data collection, lead qualification, sales handoff, lead nurturing, and performance measurement. In fact (and this is the really depressing part) only a few of the companies surveyed were able to demonstrate any impact of lead generation systems on the sales pipeline. Ouch!

The failure of high tech firms to figure out how to do their own lead management is scary because, as Michael Gerard, director of IDC’ s CMO Advisory Practice, puts it: “Developing and maintaining an efficient and effective lead management process is mandatory for marketing’s success in today’s technology organization.”

Take heart. While the high tech firms aren’t exactly going to be role models, it’s still possible to use existing CRM tools to help with the lead generation process. Here are some suggestions from IDC:

1. Create high-level support for lead management. Have the CMO dedicate a lead management individual or team to develop and govern a marketing lead management process across the organization, ideally in collaboration with a similarly tasked sales lead manager. In addition, get senior management buy in and support during process development, rollout, and governance of any lead management software or system.

2. Tie marketing compensation to the use of the CRM system. Providing quality leads and establishing the ability to track leads is only possible once marketers and other system users understand the need for a lead management process and its impact on the success of the marketing function. In other words, if marketing doesn’t get compensated for successful lead generation, they’ll continue to miss the mark.

3. Measure the lead generation process and system. These measurements should be in terms of their true impact on the sales pipeline. For example, the lead generation system should not only track marketing-generated and marketing-enhanced leads, but illustrate that those leads turn into actual sales in a shorter amount of time than leads that enter the sales process from other sources. As a side benefit, a measurement scheme will enable marketing to establish a direct feedback loop to improve its campaign effectiveness along the entire customer development lifecycle – from awareness through advocacy.

Koka Sexton

Koka Sexton is a renowned expert in social selling. Some would say Koka Sexton is the reason social selling exists, he would say that social selling existed once buyers went online. A recognized expert in social selling that has produced revenue for B2B companies, Koka continues to make generating new business the focus of social media. Finding creative ways to plan, develop and execute content marketing campaigns that break through the noise and provide value to buyers in excess of what they expect.

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