Business Development Rants and Resources

Lead Management System Setup

Companies are implementing sales information applications, or sales lead management systems,or web- based CRM systems (or whatever you want to call them) by the thousands, every business day. What is amazing is the little thought that actually goes into the setup. This lack of planning is a theme within some previous article and undoubtedly will be for many other articles.

As we have deployed SalesInSync within hundreds of companies, there is one simple mistake that can absolutely bring down the house: field redundancy. This is when you force users to put basically the same information into the database in two or more different spots. The most common example is having both sales Cycle Stage – where they are in the broad spectrum as they move through the funnel – and another field that classifies the record by whether they are just a suspect, or a prospect that has not yet had a proposal, or one that has had a proposal, or is now a customer. Sound identical? Well, yeah! So why do so many companies have databases that are set up like that?

An extreme example that I encountered the other day was a setup where the company had one field for the ABBREVIATION of the Lead Source, and another for the FULL NAME of the Lead Source! This type of thing destroys the database, and then ultimately takes the entire sales information infrastructure with it.

You see, as salespeople fill out information on the form, whether it is web or locally-based, they will not reliably take the time to make sure these redundant fields are filled out or are in agreement. In fact, even presenting a salesperson with a form such as this will make the smart ones question the value of the program as a whole, and they will ultimately use the database only in the way that it benefits THEM because their confidence in the intelligence or abilities of the rest of the organization is shaken, no matter how subtly and/or subconsciously. Once that data is not reliably entered, its value as a tool for analysis by sales management and marketing is greatly reduced. And then the ugly part happens – the database itself is deemed “ineffective”, and that is blamed on the salespeople, and the database, and everyone else that has come within a half a mile of it. The solution is to chuck out the old database and start over. The cost of doing this enormous, and it happens every day.

A sales activity database needs to have fields that are mutually exclusive, and that reflects the philosophy of sales management with respect to the sales process. Ideally, Marketing will have a role in its design, to the extent that their efforts feed those processes.

March 28, 2012 Posted by | Lead Management and CRM | , , , | Leave a comment

Sales Lead Management 101 (or, The Marketing Shell Game)

DISCLAIMER: I am not a marine biologist.

You are at a beach, and for about as far as you can see, there are shells scattered around. They are mollusks. Some of these mollusks are oysters. Some of them even contain pearls! (By the way, in case I forgot to mention, that is why you are there.) You aren’t there to get a suntan or to see bathing suits. And you brought 10 people with you in a search for pearls. You turn around and say to your team, “Alright people, lets get em. Go!” And your people start running all over the place on the beach, looking at each shell, determining if the mollusk is an oyster and whether it has a pearl that is big enough to harvest. Once the determination is made, the team member throws down the shell and runs to another one that they are sure they have not yet examined. You see people gathering pearls! Things seem to be going pretty well. At the end of the day, your team comes back and puts the pearls in your little red plastic pail. There sure are a bunch in there. Looks like your team did a number on this beach! Time to go home. We’ll come back tomorrow.

Okay, lets get into land mode. The beach is a market. Maybe it is your only market. The shells are suspects (someone that fits the broad profile), an oyster is a prospect (someone that actually uses what you are trying to sell), and the harvested pearls are sales. The pearls that are not harvested because of their size are sales that will occur when the timing is right. Theyre still growing. Does the above description of the pearl hunt in any way resemble your approach to sales lead management? If it does, don’t feel bad because the great majority of companies do the same thing turn people loose to dig up pearls. These are companies that have afinite and identifiable set of suspects, and could be doing things differently, whether using  a lead management system or sales management system such as SalesInSync or some other web-based CRM system. So what’s wrong with the “just go wild” approach I described?

Wouldn’t it have been more effective to gather every single shell on the beach (“own” the market by owning the informatoin, another Groundroll article), bring them to a central location, divvy them up among the team, and methodically examine each one? The shells that are not oysters get put in a special bin. They are not randomly tossed back. The oysters that do not contain pearls of any size get put in a similar special bin, and the ones that contain smaller, nonharvestable pearls are in another bin. The ones wherein you picked a pearl are put into the fourth bin. The bin we are talking about in this case is simply your sales database, from Excel sheets to a Lead Management System such as SalesInSync. We even have seen customers with shoeboxes of 3×5 cards as their lead management system. At least they kept the information! This article will stop here for now, in case the analogy is getting tedious or making people seasick. But the concepts will certainly form the basis of much of what is on this site, so look for more pearls of wisdom or annoying grains of sand.

March 28, 2012 Posted by | Lead Management and CRM | , , | Leave a comment