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BEST PRACTICES: 5 Steps To Effective Lead Management

Knowledge Article Number 000001053
Salesforce Success Services

5 Steps To Effective Lead Management

Leads are the people who are interested in your product and service. They're the life blood of any business - converting leads to loyal customers is what it takes to stay in business and thrive. By managing your leads in a systematic and structured way, you can increase both the number of leads you generate and how many of those leads you convert.

The following 5 steps can help you increase your pipeline, make sure you focus on the right leads, and track what works and what doesn't:

1. Align sales and marketing

2. Capture more leads

3. Keep data clean

4. Work leads efficiently

5. Track lead generation efforts

1. Align sales and marketing

You spend lots of resources developing leads. Now make the most of those efforts by making sure marketing and sales work together so no lead is overlooked or dropped.

Many companies use a three-step process for processing leads. Marketing nurtures leads, inside sales qualifies the leads and converts them to opportunities, and sales works the opportunity. Others use just two steps: Marketing converts the leads to sales opportunities when they meet agreed-upon criteria, such as a high lead score. Sales then works the opportunity.

A. Map out your sales process - Ask yourself: What are the stages of your sales cycle? Which stages of the lead status do you want to track? What happens to leads after they come in?

B. Define clear hand-off criteria between marketing and sales - Define when a marketing lead is passed to inside sales. And determine when an inside sales lead should be converted into an opportunity, account, and contact.

Many organizations pass marketing leads to inside sales only if a lead reaches a lead-score threshold. Before passing on a lead, it's a best practice to make sure the lead has a defined need, the necessary budget, the purchasing authority, and an appropriate purchasing timeline. If not, you should continue to nurture the lead within marketing.

C. Define success metrics up front - How will you measure success for both marketing and sales? By defining these metrics up front, you'll be sure you'll capture the most important information as leads move through the funnel.

Many successful companies measure marketing based on pipeline generated. For example, to measure pipeline by industry, your reps could enter industry information into the lead or you could capture that information on your landing pages. Then you can use a lead history report to show the number of all opportunities by converted lead industry.

2. Capture more leads

More leads mean more potential business. With Salesforce CRM, you have several options for getting leads into the app: capture them automatically from your web site or through social media, import them, or enter them manually. For more details, see the Best Practice, "5 proven ways to generate more leads."

A. Capture leads automatically - Use your web properties, search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns, and social media to capture potential customers. Thes strategies are very successful because potential customers are already looking for you.

I. Use web-to-lead forms - Capture contact information from people who fill out your forms.

II. Use Twitter - Set up your Twitter page and convert the people who follow you.

B. Import leads - Take lead lists from Excel spreadsheets or from email applications such as Outlook or Gmail. You can also import leads directly from other CRM applications such as ACT!

C. Enter leads manually - This approach works well for individual leads.

3. Keep your data clean

Here's a common scenario: A rep meets a prospect at a conference and enters that person's information as a lead in Salesforce CRM. The same person then clicks on a Google ad, which takes him to a landing page which form he submits. You've now got a duplicate lead.

What to do? Ask your reps to use the Find Duplicates button frequently to find and resolve duplicate leads. Also, explore the following ways to keep your data clean:

A, Clean your leads regularly - Despite your best efforts, data will get "dirty" because of prospects' job changes, human error, and duplicate or incomplete submissions. Check out the data cleansing tools in the AppExchange to help with your de-duplication efforts.

B. Use validation rules - For example, you can create a rule that prevents leads from being converted if no email address was entered or if its customer's need has not been defined.

For more information about data quality, see the Best Practice "6 steps toward top data quality."

4. Work leads efficiency

Once you have lots of leads, how do you make the most of them? Because leads differ in quality, you should prioritize them to make sure reps focus on your hottest leads first.

A. Prioritize leads with lead scoring - Use a point system to assign values to characteristics that align with successful sales. For example, you may assign 10 points to CEO and 3 points to a manager, based on the experience that CEO prospects result in more closed leads. Revisit scoring criteria regularly as you learn more about how various characteristics correlate with success. Also consider formula fields for basic demographic scoring. For more information about lead scoring, see the Best Practice, "9 tips for using lead scoring to close more deals."

Visit the AppExchange to install the free lead scoring app from

B. Categorize scored leads - Once scored, you can categorize leads into levels of priority, such as A, B, and C. Meet regularly to fine-tune the criteria for these categories. If your threshold for an A lead is usually 50, for example, you might lower that threshold to flow more leads to sales if lead volume is low.

C. Use assignment rules to route leads - It's a good idea to assign unqualified leads, such as category C leads, to a marketing queue to be nurtured until they're ready to buy. Route qualified leads to the appropriate inside sales rep for further qualification. Also, be sure to create a rule without filters that routes leads to a default user, such as the marketing queue. That way you can make sure no leads are lost because of gaps in your rules.

5. Track your lead-generating efforts

To improve lead generation, you need to know which marketing tools work best for you. is it email campaigns? Google AdWords campaigns? Webinars? Trade shows? Here's how to find out.

A. Identify and track lead sources - Find out where you get most of your leads. Enter the lead source for each opportunity coming into the funnel so you can track ROI as it moves through the funnel.

B. Use the Lead history report to analyze revenue and pipeline - The lead history report can tie lead criteria such as lead source, industry, or annual revenue to opportunity amounts, giving you the power to slice and dice revenue and pipeline for different leads.

C. Use campaign for deeper metrics - Campaigns are a great tool for tracking the success of different lead-generation efforts using metrics such as # leads, # converted leads, $$ pipeline, $$ pipeline influenced, and ROI.

D. Use reports and dashboards - Create a clear view of your funnel by defining the stages of your sales process - for example, # leads, $ marketing qualified leads, # sales qualified leads, # opportunities, and $$ closed revenue. You can then slice and dice these numbers to best measure success, whether that's by industry, lead source, product, or geography.

For more information on implementing Lead Management in Salesforce, please see the following pdf document:

Salesforce Lead Management Implementation Guide

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