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Solve the Mystery of Lost Leads: Part II

answers, they can build best practices based on the successful behavior of top sales performers.

Mystery solved: Analyze and improve performance to maximize ROI.
"You cannot improve what you do not measure." Business-to-business marketing professionals cite measuring and showing return-on-investment as their biggest challenge, according to a recent survey conducted by Penton Media. In fact, the survey showed that marketers view measuring ROI as their biggest concern, even ahead of generating good leads and inadequate budget.

Many executives wonder what they're getting for their marketing investment. Yet often, marketers can only provide a superficial level of response analysis, such as response rate by campaign, creative approach and list. To be truly effective and accurate in analyzing marketing ROI, they need to tie leads from campaigns directly to sales. This is the primary missing link that keeps the mystery of lost leads alive.

To make smart decisions on how to spend the company's marketing dollars, marketers need to know the response rate on specific campaigns, by offer, creative approach and list sources; lead quality by campaign, offer, creative and list sources; how well the sales team responded and how quickly; what percentage of leads, by source, are turning into sales; which lead sources produce the most sales volume; which follow-up methods and sales tools are being used most effectively; the cost per lead/sale for each campaign being executed.

Marketers need these answers so they can improve ROI performance.

You must create reports that are near real time showing cost per lead and cost per sale performance by campaign, with details on revenue generated as well as what's in the sales pipeline. With reports that show lead quality and sales pipeline data early in a campaign cycle, marketers can make informed decisions much faster than if they had to rely solely on closed sales numbers. This early performance data is important, especially when dealing with long sales cycles and campaigns.

Results: Achieve major savings and increase sales.
With all the tracking and reporting in place, sales and marketing teams can start working together to achieve continuous process improvement at every step. They'll have all the clues and hard facts they need to eliminate the mystery of lost leads. With the mystery solved, they can stop wasting time and money on ineffective strategies, poor lists and messaging that doesn't attract your target audience.

By ending the guesswork, sales and marketing can team up to achieve major savings and increased sales at the same time. They'll have all the clues they need to:

  • Win more sales and improve sales closing ratios.
  • Reduce sales cycles and improve sales pipeline forecasting.
  • Develop more effective marketing programs and sales tools.
  • Create lead nurturing programs to strengthen relationships with longer term prospects.
  • Cut sales and marketing costs.
  • Increase revenue by focusing on the most effective practices in the best-performing markets.

Greg Wilkinson is the co-founder of GrowthPoint Inc., a marketing and business consulting company that combines measurable marketing campaign development, project management, lead management and nurture programs which deliver returns on marketing investments. To contact Wilkinson, email gwilkinson@growthpoint-inc.com, go to www.GrowthPoint-Inc.com, or call 262-264-0458.

This is the second half of an article on managing sales leads effectively. This half will focus on holding your sales force accountable for following up on leads, as well as analyzing your company's performance in this area. According to the first half of this article, up to 80 percent of leads you pass to sales fall through the cracks.

Second of a two-part series. Click here for part 1.

Manage sales performance with easy follow-up and clear expectations.
Sometimes it takes more than a good lead and information to get salespeople to follow up, and then to report on what they do with a lead. You can increase the odds of effective follow-up and reporting by giving your sales team tools that make it easy to call on a prospect and record the status.

When designing a system you should place lead details and follow-up tools right at the salesperson's fingertips online, on-demand, including:

The entire lead detail, with supplemental data to help salespeople understand the opportunity and urgency before contacting the prospect. For example, D&B data may show that an unknown company is actually a division of a much larger corporation or you can use your own database to show current customer status. Having this knowledge before making a sales call can be very helpful.

Sample responses to assist a rep and ensure communications which are clear, consistent, on message, professional and offer relevant resources such as whitepapers and e-newsletters. These should be tailored to the source of the lead.

Sample email templates salespeople can use to send the prospect for follow-up.

Telephone talking points salespeople can use to assist with follow-up calls.

An instant link that connects to a Web form salespeople can use to enter information and notes on the lead status on the spot. This will significantly increase reporting compliance, especially for third-party selling channels where it would be impractical to load special software from your company to track leads.

To identify the most cost-effective marketing programs, marketers need to know what happens to every lead – and be able to track each lead back to a specific campaign. This means they need salespeople to follow up and report on lead status. In other words, to solve the case, salespeople must share information with the marketing team. To make this a reality organizations need to make it easy for sales people to report on each lead in 30 seconds or less; track each sales organization's ability to follow up, create a pipeline and close sales; and make sales and marketing reporting transparent and fast.

Offer no place to hide with sales reporting.
With real-time sales reporting, you gain one of the most powerful investigative tools for solving the mystery of lost leads – sales accountability backed up by cold, hard facts on what salespeople are doing with leads. If you're going to improve your marketing programs and your sales process, you've got to have transparency – a clear view of exactly how the sales team is handling leads.

As you design this transparency, you should generate automatic reports distributed via email to sales and marketing managers with breakdowns by sales district, distributor, rep or other relevant sales category on all follow-up activity on leads, by lead classification. At a glance, sales managers should know what percentages of leads have been followed up, plus the answers to these questions:

  • How much pipeline has been created?
  • What leads are still open or in progress?
  • What are the recent hot leads?
  • How well can this sales resource close leads compared to their peers?

From the big picture, managers should have the ability to drill down to view performance status on an individual organization or salesperson. They can learn which salespeople are taking better advantage of marketing programs than others. With the right

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