An issue that is very common with implementation projects of CRM systems and especially Salesforce processes around leads. In this week’s article, we take a closer look at lead processes and qualification of leads.
The most common is that the CRM system either has an item that takes the sales process from first contact to closed business or that there is a lead item used during the marketing and qualification step and then a sales project object used in the sales process itself. For smaller companies, it is natural to use an object, while larger companies more often want to work with different objects. For larger companies, it is often different departments that make different steps in the marketing and sales process and it then becomes natural to work with several objects.
Another reason may also be that you work with some form of “marketing automation”, ie a system that automatically captures and refines the prospectus. Data from this system would like to be kept separate from data processed by the sales organization as there are criteria that must be met before the sales organization wants to start focusing on the prospectus.
The simple process
But let’s start with the smaller company. Here is usually lead generation and sell the same function and it is often seen that the sales and exploration journey is one and the same process as there will never be any handover between people or departments.
The CRM system collects contact information about prospective customers. This can come from forms that are filled in on the website, contact information that you buy or eg. from business cards that you gathered at a branch event.
When the lead is registered in the CRM system it is in this status that it is created. It may be more or less complete contact information. It must be enriched and updated here. Once you have captured enough data, you can start processing the prospectus.
This is where the lead ends when you start machining. It may be that you call, email or otherwise approach the prospects. This step captures qualification information such as if they work with any competitor today. When will they invest? This is adapted to how the sales or buying processes look. The goal is to get in touch with the company and start the sales process often in the form of a meeting.
If the company’s qualification information meets the requirements of the sales organization, then it is a qualified lead. You then want to start the sales process as soon as possible. If the customer cannot start a buying process but the opportunity exists in the future, then the lead stops here. In this status, you always have time for contacting the prospectus and what to do then.
The prospectus did not meet the qualification requirements and we will therefore not further process it. You often choose to save information about the prospectus and the activities you have had in case you need to contact or want to avoid contacting the prospectus in the future.
When you get into the sales process, the lead will be converted. Then you make a customer card, a contact and often the object of a sales project based on the data collected in the qualification process.
It is not uncommon for this simplified process to also be considered superfluous or complex and then it is simplified even more and only two steps are kept – open and closed.
The longer process
For larger companies that have a lead generation function or a marketing automation tool, they usually work with a slightly different process. It feels very natural to work with two different objects in this case.
This is where the journey begins and we only have basic information such as name or email address. It is very common for this to be a name and perhaps an email address captured with a marketing automation tool. It can also be purchased lists and information from various trade shows or industry events. Leads at this level are processed in such a way that they try to collect additional qualification information often digitally.
These leads meet our qualification profile but have not yet shown any interest in the products being sold. Many of these leads are potential customers but not prepared to make a purchase. Here, marketing automation is used to drive the prospect to various digital channels or physical events to increase the interest in the products.
MQL, Marketing Qualified Leads
In this situation, the lead has shown some kind of interest or early buy signals. This information often comes from a marketing automation tool that has registered activities in various digital channels but may also be that the lead has attended some physical event such as an inspirational breakfast.
SAL, Sales Accepted Leads
These are leads that have passed MQL with sufficiently high-quality results that you usually make contact over the phone to make a further qualification of the type that is difficult to do online. It may be asking for priorities or areas that are challenging and who are decision-makers. In this situation, you try to book a sales meeting.
SQL, Sales Qualified Leads
Now the lead is ready for a sales or buying process. Here, the lead is often converted to a sales project in the CRM system so that the sales process can start properly. Here, the decision-maker, budget and time frame are almost always set.
The longer process is more detailed and often has some form of automation around it, although this is not a requirement. Up on this extended lead process, there is often a marketing strategy that helps identify leads and drive them through the various stages of the process. Content marketing or editorial advertising are common strategies for an individual from Profile to SAL.
How to start?
Where should you start if you do not have a lead process today? Always start easily and develop the process as you see that things are effective or ineffective. All organizations and all industries are different and all products and services can be sold in many different ways.
Since May of this year (2018), you should also keep GDPR in mind when creating your process and deciding what information you want to store.
Which of the two processes is most similar to the process you use? What problems do you experience with this process? Write your thoughts and comments in the comments section below!