Conceptually, this discussion rages on independent of the CRM system in use. However, let’s examine a lead process and discuss conceptually what a lead actually is. In any SFA (sales force automation) implementation of a CRM system, careful consideration must be taken to properly set up the supporting modules.
Leads come from multiple sources are typically an individual. Example sources are:
- Website Landing pages
- Contact me forms
- Registrations (white papers, online demos, etc)
- List Purchases
- Search Engine Marketing (pay-per-click)
- Email Campaigns
- Print Advertising
- Trade Shows
- Radio Advertising
- TV Advertising
- Cold Calls
- 3rd Party Lead Gen Firms
Depending on the type of campaign or source the lead is coming from, different weights can be applied to the lead. Examples are:
- Hot lead – this lead type typically falls in to the category of an inbound call or contact me form. The customer has expressed explicit interest in speaking with
- Standard Lead
- General Interest
- Cold Lead
The lead (person) is typically assigned to a pool or individual based on rules. Examples might be:
- If the lead is of a certain revenue number and geographic region it is assigned to sales person A
- If the lead is in a certain industry assign to sales person B
- If the lead is an existing customer, assign the lead to the assigned sales person
- and so on.
To recap so far, we have a) generated leads through a mix of marketing activities and b) we have assigned those leads to the appropriate sales person for follow up and qualification.
The lead qualification process is a fundamental task that all sales people must complete. We will not explore how to execute this process because it varies based on the type of selling organization. Suffice it to say, that the major question that must be answered is, “Is this lead for real, or is it a waste of time.”
Assuming the lead is real, the next step in the process is to make the lead a contact and associate that contact with an account (company) record. The reason for this step is to change the nature of what a lead is from a person to a person who works at a company. This multidimensional approach typical in all modern CRM systems allows the sales person to attach multiple contacts and other related objects such as Opportunities, Quotations, and Customer Service Cases to the Account record.
- Bill Gates attends a company trade show and drops his business card in a fish bowl to get the free logoed squishy ball you are offering at your booth.
- After the show, all the business cards are loaded into the CRM as Leads with a weighting of General Interest.
- The Bill Gates Lead is assigned to the sales person who is assigned to Microsoft Corporation.
- The sales rep calls or emails Bill to follow up and qualify the lead.
- Bill responds saying, “I loved the squishy ball and your product. I would like a demonstration”
- Bill is converted to a contact who works at Microsoft. Because there is already activity with Microsoft and contacts associated Bill just becomes another contact that is part of the overall Microsoft account.
- The sales person also creates an opportunity reflecting the revenue potential.
- The sales person schedules the demo and continues to manage this opportunity until it is closed or lost.
- This flexible model allows the sales person to attach additional contacts as needed to the Microsoft account and subsequently to the specific opportunity.
Leads are people who are not related to a company.
Contacts are people who work at companies.
Accounts are business entities who have employees (Contacts)
Opportunities are revenue potential typically with Accounts that are either closed or lost.