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Lead Management In Salesforce

How you go about lead management in Salesforce is one of the most critical keys to success for any organization running on the Salesforce CRM. The speed and accuracy with which you create, distribute and respond to leads will effectively determine your conversion rates and, ultimately, your sales revenues. Fully optimizing each link in the chain will help you maximize lead throughput, lead conversions and sales revenues, and will form the bedrock of your success for many years to come.
lead management in salesforce

A Salesforce lead management system can be broken down into 9 essential components. Let’s take a quick look at each component in turn.

The 9 Components of a Lead Management System in Salesforce

1. Lead Capture

The first step in any lead management system is lead capture. In this day and age most leads are generated from forms connected to web pages and/or campaign landing pages. Such leads can be created automatically in Salesforce using Web-to-Lead functionality. Leads can also be created directly from emails using Email-to-Lead functionality (See our own app: Email-to-anything). Or, increasingly, businesses are buying leads from lead brokers. These can be supplied in spreadsheet format, which can then be uploaded to Salesforce. But the smart thing to do is to automate the lead creation process, again using an app such as Email-to-anything.

2. Lead Scoring

Once leads are safely created in Salesforce, they need to be assessed. If there is a large volume of leads then they will need to be prioritized according to urgency and importance. For sure, you will want to be dealing with the hottest leads first. Each lead can be scored automatically using a marketing automation tool like Pardot or Hubspot. Points are awarded according to the various actions that a prospect has taken. If they have visited certain web pages they can accrue points. If they have downloaded a white paper or an eGuide they get more points. If they have submitted a question via a form they get more points. The more points they accumulate, the more “engaged” the prospect is deemed to be, and the lead can be prioritized accordingly.

3. Lead Grading

However, just because a prospect is interested in what you are selling, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you are interested in selling it to them. This is where your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) comes in. Fact is, it may not be profitable for you to sell small quantities of widgets to lots and lots of small customers. The overheads could be too high. It might be more viable to sell larger quantities of widgets to a smaller set of large customers. If you can define your ICP (usually by company size, revenue, industry etc) then you can assess each lead that comes in against that definition. You can then use a “lead grading” system to award each lead a grade, which is effectively a measure of the “quality” of the lead in question. Using a combination of lead scoring and lead grading, you have prioritize each lead according to “hotness”. The hottest leads would have both a high score and a high grade.

4. Marketing Qualification

Scoring and grading leads is the first part of the marketing qualification process. Next up, Marketing needs to filter out the leads that aren’t “real”. For example, you may want to filter out job seekers and students, people that have shown an interest in your company but have no interest in actually purchasing your product. Marketing might also filter out genuine leads which are right at the beginning of the sales process. They might not be ready to talk to sales just yet. Instead, the Marketing department will put them into a lead nurture program (more on that later). Only Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) which are “ready for a conversation” should be passed to Sales. MQLs which also happen to be an ICP-match can be prioritized.

5. Lead Assignment

Once a lead is MQL qualified, then it need to be assigned to Sales. This part of the lead management process is critical. Leads can be matched to sales reps in any number of ways. You can leave them to cherry pick the best leads. Or you can manually assign them. Or you can deploy a round robin system. Or you can implement lead assignment rules which distribute leads according to skills required, product knowledge, territory, language and much more. Matching the right lead to the right rep can dramatically increase lead throughput, shorten response times and increase conversion rates. Salesforce apps like Q-assign have been specifically designed to optimize the lead assignment process in order to maximize the productivity and performance of any given sales team.

6. Sales Qualification

Once a lead which finds its way into the hands of a sales person it needs to go through the sales qualification process. When qualifying a new lead, the sales person needs to answer one simple question: “Is this a genuine opportunity that I can get to work on right now?”. This will normally involve a conversation with the prospect or, failing that, an exchange of emails. The sales person will ask the prospect about their use case and challenges and then, if they have a suitable product or service in their armory, they can propose a solution. If there isn’t a live opportunity, the lead can be handed back to Marketing, ideally with a steer on whether or not the lead should be nurtured in the future. If the lead presents a real live opportunity, then it can be converted.

7. Lead Conversion

There are a number of different conversion events that can happen during the sales cycle. For example, a prospect can be converted to a lead, and an opportunity can be converted to a sale. But the most prominent conversion event in a Salesforce lead management system is conversion from a Lead to an Opportunity, which is known as lead conversion. When a sales person converts a Lead in Salesforce then a new Contact is created. If it’s also a new company that hasn’t been dealt with before then a new Account will also be created. If the account already exists then the new Contact will be associated with that account. The third step in the lead conversion process is to create an Opportunity, which will outline the shape and size of any potential deal.

8. Trashing Leads

Leads which do not pass the Sales Qualification test are normally handed back to Marketing. Marketing then need to decide what to do with them. If the sales qualification process has determined that the lead is not actually a good one and that the company in question is a long way from being an ICP fit, then the lead might be trashed. This is actually a very important step in the whole lead management process. It’s tempting to keep hold of all leads and to nurture them forever and a day. But this is a very bad practice. Poor quality prospects can be a drain on your resources. Not only will Marketing waste time and money trying to nurture them, if they re-engage with your business at a later date then they will be a drain on your Sales resources too. Furthermore, if you make the mistake of turning a bad-fit prospect into a customer, they can (and probably will) be a drain on your customer support team. Bad-fit leads should be trashed.

9. Lead Nurture

Many leads that do not pass the sales qualification test are, nevertheless, good prospects for future conversion. Maybe they are a good ICP-fit but they are not yet ready to engage. These leads need to be nurtured. Your Marketing department will most likely put them into an email nurture program and make contact with them every now and then to see if their circumstances have changed. They might also be invited to events. The objective here is to keep nudging them, to keep reminding them who you are and what you do. At some point in the future this prospect is likely to have a requirement for a product or service like yours. When that happens, the trick is to ensure that they think of you straight-away.

Introducing Dynamic Lead Management In Salesforce

As you can see, the whole lead management process in Salesforce is really quite complex. A lot of companies invest a lot of time and energy managing the various components manually, for example, creating and scoring leads, qualifying them, assigning them and nurturing them. But progressive, forward-thinking companies are looking to automate as much as the lead management process as possible. Marketing Automation tools like Pardot and Hubspot are transforming the way leads are generated, scored and prioritized. And Salesforce automation apps like Email-to-anything and Q-assign are revolutionizing the productivity and performance of sales teams around the world. Dynamic Lead Management involves deploying automation rules and intelligent assignment rules to determine what happens to each and every lead as it passes through the system. Based on the attributes of each lead, and also on the skills and experience of each of your sales people, leads can be created automatically, scored automatically, qualified automatically (at least to some degree) and assigned automatically.

How to Maximize Productivity and Performance

By adopting a philosophy that resolves around continuous improvement, a top-notch sales management team can build a state-of-the-art lead management system which delivers the absolute maximum return on investment. By minimizing lead response times, maximizing conversion rates and optimizing productivity, overall team (and company) performance can be transformed. It’s never been more important to embrace Salesforce automation, and implementing a best-of-breed lead management system in Salesforce must surely be the number one priority for customer-facing organizations running on the world’s biggest CRM platform.

Ortoo’s 5-star-rated lead management apps are available to download from the AppExchange.

Email-to-anything (e2a) is an intelligent email automation app which is 100% native to Salesforce. With e2a you can create and update Salesforce Leads and Opportunities directly from emails, as well as send one-to-one and mass emails from Salesforce.

Q-assign is probably the most powerful assignment app on the AppExchange. With Q-assign you can deploy dynamic assignment rules with ease, enabling you to route the right lead or opportunity to the right Sales rep at the right time – automatically and dynamically.

Both Email-to-anything and Q-assign are available on a FREE 30-day trial on the AppExchange.

See also: Lead Assignment Systems