6 Managing Leads
Lead management features help to align marketing and sales objectives from lead generation to lead execution. This ultimately contributes to increasing revenues.
Lead information is generated and captured from:
- A company's existing contacts
- Sales campaigns
All leads then undergo the qualification and assessment process and hopefully get qualified either manually by a salesperson or automatically based on predefined rules.
Finally, qualified leads are converted into opportunities.
A lead follows a path which ends either with converting the lead to an opportunity, or retiring the lead when no possibility exists of converting the lead to an opportunity. The lead lifecycle includes an automated process to first capture the leads, then prioritize the leads for sales engagement through a scoring and ranking process. Leads are then distributed to appropriate sales resources for further lead qualification, follow-up and conversion.
Leads are monitored, reassigned as appropriate and the lead quality is continuously reviewed and adjusted as the lead progresses through its lifecycle. Marketing and Sales departments both share the ownership of leads, where the focus on the leads shifts from Marketing to Sales and back to Marketing based on the lead status. The lead lifecycle is captured in the following topics:
- Lead Generation
- Lead Qualification
- Lead Distribution
- Lead Assessment
- Lead Conversion
Leads are generated and captured from many different sources such as:
- Campaign responses
- Campaign stages handled by telemarketing
- Third-party lead sources
- Sales prediction application through the creation of new leads
Flexible lead import, customer and contact creation, and de-duplication ensure marketing lead generation efforts are optimized. For example, the lead import process checks whether leads represent new or existing customers. For new customers, data must be created for the lead. If the lead is an existing customer, part of the lead import process checks to ensure customer and lead information is not duplicated.
Marketing departments help with the lead qualification process to ensure that only qualified leads are handed over to sales. Leads are typically ranked as Hot, Warm, or Cool. Leads are further qualified by the use of company-specific standard questions to score a lead. Lead scores are numeric values typically ranging from 1 to 100, where a high score represents high quality.
It is not good practice to let stale leads build up. Standardized criteria for lead qualification ensure that quality leads reach the salesperson and help maximize the conversion rate from leads to opportunities. For example, your organization has criteria and processes for ensuring that leads are either developed or retired within 30 days. When the lead age is greater than 30 days and the rank is A or B, Marketing reassigns the leads for follow-up by an internal telemarketing group. If the leads cannot be qualified or further developed to revenue opportunities, the rejected leads can be reassigned or can be retired manually.
As the qualification of leads progresses into real potential prospects, assignment manager uses expression-based rules to associate one or more internal salespersons with each lead. If the lead is associated with either a sales prospect or a sales account, then the assignment manager process uses territory definitions to associate (typically one) internal territory with each lead. The salesperson newly assigned to the lead may be related to the lead record directly through the lead team or indirectly through a territory associated with the lead. He or she can view and update those leads assigned to them in the lead work area and can claim ownership of the lead by accepting the lead.
Other assigned resources can view and update the lead, but cannot make themselves the owners. As the lead is qualified further, for example, if a sales prospect changes to a sales account by adding an address, assignment manager is automatically called during the next automated assignment cycle. Depending on the assignment logic, the lead may be reassigned to a different territory or sales resource. If the assigned salesperson takes no action on a lead for several days, then the lead can be manually reassigned to another salesperson.
Salespeople must evaluate the quality of information they have received for the lead. They determine if the details are sufficient to reach out to the customer and assess whether a lead is worth pursuing with the help of preconfigured assessment templates. Assessment templates can further qualify the lead by:
- Reviewing the content shared with the customer during a campaign
- Framing the lead in the context of the campaign
- Ensuring the salesperson understands the information that has already been sent to the customer
You can use the lead assessment feature to further assess leads through predefined questions that help determine the likelihood of the lead being accepted by Sales. In this scenario, a salesperson named Mike begins asking the customer a series of questions created by Marketing and Sales to assess the quality of the lead. As each question is asked, Mike records the answer and the lead assessment tool automatically factors the answer into the assessment score of the lead. At the end of the call, Mike notes that the assessment lead score is high. He requests that the lead is assigned to the direct sales team. If the lead score was low, then Mike could retire the lead, or if the lead needed further qualifying, he could leave it in his list of leads for follow-up at a later date. If the lead is good, but the potential revenue opportunity is less than a predetermined monetary amount, for example, twenty-five thousand dollars, then Mike can convert the lead to an opportunity to further pursue as part of the sales cycle.
A lead's life cycle ends either when a lead is converted to a sales opportunity, or when the lead is retired. After establishing that the lead has potential, the salesperson converts the lead to an opportunity. Contact is established and meetings and presentations are scheduled to move the opportunity along the sales pipeline. To track the progress, contact notes are captured and associated with the contact and opportunity.
As the lead progresses through its life cycle, decisions to retire the lead are based on the following:
- You cannot verify customer and lead details.
- The customer is not interested in pursuing the lead any further.
Use lead actions to manage leads. This topic provides a brief description of the actions that you perform on a lead.
Lead actions are generally grouped into the following categories:
- Standard create, edit, delete, and update functions such as mass update
- Ranking, scoring, and qualifying actions to assist in prioritizing leads
- Accepting, rejecting, reassigning, and retiring actions to ensure leads are in the right queue for pursuing
- Submitting lead registrations for approval and converting leads to opportunities to continue sales pursuits and include in sales forecasting
The ability to perform each action depends on:
- Privileges assigned to your role
- Access level as a lead sales team member
- Current status of the lead
The following table shows the actions that you can perform to manage leads:
Performs a mass update of specific attributes and custom attributes from the Leads Overview work area when selecting multiple records.
Submits the Request Sales Lead Assignments process to automatically assign a lead rank based on predefined rules specified in the Assignment Rule for Ranking Leads profile option. A rank represents the priority of the lead, such as Hot, Medium, and Cool.
Submits the Request Sales Lead Assignments process to automatically assign a lead score based on predefined rules specified in the Assignment Rule for Scoring Leads profile option.
NoteLead assignment score is different from qualification and assessment scores. A lead score can be used as a source for predefined rules that automatically assign lead rank, qualification status, territories, and resources.
Updates the lead status to Qualified, bypassing the automated sales lead classification process.
Provides choices for when the sales lead assignment process evaluates the lead to reassign sales team members and territories to the lead:
A lead must have a Qualified or Unqualified status to be reassigned.
Updates the lead status to a retired lead indicating the lead is no longer one that needs pursuing.
Removes you as the lead owner. The accepted indicator and assignment status are also updated to reflect that the lead is no longer accepted. The lead is eligible for reassignment when:
The reject reason, and the number of times the lead is rejected, is available when searching leads. This information is displayed in the Overview page for analysis and to provide possible indicators that the lead should be retired.
Updates the lead with you as the owner. The Request Sales Lead Assignments process is submitted to automatically assign sales team territories and resources based on predefined rules. The rules are specified in the Assignment Rule for Ranking Leads profile option.
Convert to Opportunity
Creates an opportunity based on lead information. The lead status is updated to converted.
Submit for Approval
Click Submit for Approval when you are ready to register the lead for the approval of a channel account manager.
The status of a lead is primarily determined by a user performing an action on a lead, or upon successful completion of the lead qualification activity. This topic describes the different lead statuses.
Once leads have been assigned to lead qualifiers or related sales roles, lead follow-up activities begin. As specific actions are performed on a lead, the status of the lead changes accordingly.
The following table describes the statuses of leads:
A lead with a status of unqualified signifies that the lead requires additional information and qualification activities by the lead team. Unqualified is the default status assigned to all newly created leads.
A qualified lead signifies that the lead is ready for sales attention. The status can be updated to qualified by either the user selecting the Qualify action or upon successful completion of the qualification processing activity. Leads can have a status of qualified based on many factors including the status of the budget and the time frame of the project.
When a lead is converted to an opportunity, then the status is set to Converted.
The status of a lead is updated to Retired when a user selects the Retire action. A lead is retired when:
A retired lead cannot be converted to an opportunity. Marketing users can review retired leads and then delete them as required.
The lead qualification process can either be performed by internal marketing or internal sales groups. This topic provides a brief overview of what constitutes a qualified lead.
Qualifying leads is an important first step in bringing the sales lead to a conclusion. At the end of the lead qualification process, you can classify the lead as a qualified lead that is ready for conversion to an opportunity. Or you can retire the lead if the purchase interest for the lead cannot be validated. What constitutes a qualified lead varies from company to company.
Basic Lead Qualification
In some companies, basic lead qualification data is gathered by lead qualifiers and contains data such as:
- Customer need
- Urgency or time frame for the project
- Budget considerations such as available amount and status
The scheduled process that determines lead qualification status also takes into consideration basic lead data.
Additional Lead Qualification
In other companies, the lead qualifier or salesperson uses a lead qualification questionnaire as part of the qualification process. Based on the answers received, he or she can decide to manually set the lead to a Qualified status using the lead actions menu. Your application administrator assigns the questionnaire to your Lead Qualification Template profile. The answers entered are assessed using a weighted scoring model with instant feedback available as a scoring status bar in the UI.
This topic explains the lead qualification process and provides examples of the different methods used for qualifying leads.
Lead Qualification Process
Lead quality is assessed as soon as a lead is generated and is mainly based on:
- The characteristics of the customer contact on the lead
- The type of response which caused the lead to get generated
- The type of sales campaign that the lead may be associated with
Leads are enriched further, typically by means of prequalification telemarketing activities performed by internal marketing, internal sales groups, or external third-parties. Qualification data is added to the lead such as:
- Customer need
- Urgency or time frame for the project
- Budget considerations such as available amount and status
At the end of this process, the lead is either:
- Classified as a qualified lead which is ready for conversion to a sale
- Retired if purchase interest for the lead cannot be validated
The following scenarios illustrate some of the lead qualification processes.
Rule-Based Lead Qualification
The rule-based lead qualification process requires that the value of the Lead Status attribute be set to Qualified if qualification rules evaluate to a positive answer. For example, consider the rule:
IF budget status is approved AND
time frame is 3 months
AND decision maker has been
AND response type is attended
THEN rule is passed
ELSE rule is failed.
If this rule evaluates to TRUE, the value of Lead Status is set to Qualified.
Internal Marketing Qualification
Internal lead qualifiers or inside salespeople conduct phone conversations to gather qualification data about leads. They can use qualification templates to define consistent and specific qualification criteria for similar leads. The qualification questions are tailored to a specific product, industry, and source of the lead.
Before updating the lead status to qualified, the lead must have a valid primary product associated with it. Users can select multiple leads and select Qualify from the Actions list. Leads meeting the requirements for lead qualification are processed.
As the qualification data is gathered using the leads management user interface, the lead qualifier or salesperson can decide to manually set the lead to Qualified status. In some companies, the lead qualification data gathered by lead qualifiers is considered in the scheduled automated lead process. For example, the assignment manager engine can calculate lead score or lead rank, as well as assign sales team territories. For such companies, a simple rule to move leads to a Qualified status when the lead score reaches a specific threshold is sufficient.
A lead can be qualified when the basic attributes of the lead indicate interest in the purchase of a product. For example, basic attributes might include:
- Contact attended a product event
- Budget is approved
- Purchase time frame is less than a year
The Additional Qualification tab displays the qualification template with questions where you can enter the answers on the same page. Most of the data required to qualify the lead is available from the Basic Qualification area of the Lead details page. Supporting data is included in the contextual area for easy reference.
Internal Sales Group Qualification
Leads are generated and captured from many different sources. The sales prediction system generates and captures leads. Leads are created when customers are created. Leads are also generated from leads that already exist. After salespeople accept those leads generated by the sales prediction system, they can evaluate the quality of the information received for the lead. They determine if the details are sufficient to reach out to the customer and assess whether a lead is worth pursuing with the help of predefined assessment templates. If they can establish that the lead has potential and can be marked as qualified, they can then convert the lead to an opportunity. Contact is established and meetings and presentations are scheduled to move the opportunity along the sales pipeline.
External Third-Party Qualification
External third-party qualification involves using input from a third-party source to qualify leads. For example, your company has obtained a list of contacts that purchased a car in the last 90 days. You have hired a telemarketing company to call each contact to determine if there is interest in your company's auto security products. The third-party telemarketer provides weekly files of potential contacts who are interested in your products. Using the file-based data import feature and qualification rules configured using the assignment manager engine, the interactions resulting from the telemarketer's activities are imported as leads. The marketing operations manager schedules the rule-based qualification process to occur as soon as the enriched lead data is imported to the lead management application. If the rules evaluation is successful, the result sets the lead status as Qualified.
The market is typically organized into territories that comprise customers and prospects. Marketing is closely aligned with sales, and marketing activities are launched to generate leads and maintain the strength of the sales pipeline. This topic explains lead ownership, lead access, and privileges of the sales team resources.
Resources who access leads have different roles as follows:
- Operations support for an automated process to capture leads, prioritize leads for sales engagement, and distribute the leads to appropriate sales or territory team resources.
- Marketing and lead qualifiers monitor leads, reassign leads, and continually review and adjust the lead quality.
- Sales and territory teams enable lead qualification, perform follow-up lead activities, and convert leads to opportunities.
This topic includes the following sections:
- Lead, Sales, and Territory Resources
- Assignment of Leads to Marketing and Sales Resources
- Sales Resource Role
- Resource Privileges and Access Levels
Lead, Sales, and Territory Resources
Sales resources are organized into flexible teams and are associated with the sales territories. These sales territories are then assigned to customers, leads, and opportunities to carry out the sales process. The lead follow-up process includes a lead team comprised of individual sales resources who are predominantly active during the lead qualification stage. A lead is then assigned to the appropriate sales team, and a territory team is created for the lead. All sales resources who are assigned to the territory team can view and follow up the lead.
Assignment of Leads to Marketing and Sales Resources
Qualified leads are assigned to a sales team based on sales territories. Unqualified leads are assigned to individual lead qualifiers either manually or based on rules defined in the assignment manager engine.
Sales Resource Role
The sales resource performs the following activities:
- Review quality leads which are augmented with sales collateral, marketing content, customer contact interactions, and references.
- Qualify and assess the lead quality further with the help of customized assessment templates.
- Use the resource picker to manually
select a resource to add to the team.
Include a description to indicate what role the resource has on the sales team. Many sales team members can access each lead, and each team member is identified as either an internal (sales force), or an external (channel partner sales force) resource. Each sales team member can be associated with a specific resource role to indicate what capacity the member has on the lead.
- Add additional contacts and products to the lead as the lead moves further down the sales cycle.
Resource Privileges and Access Levels
Leads have three levels of access as follows:
View the lead and add lead notes. View the sales account associated with the lead, but no other leads or opportunities associated with the sales account. You can also view most of the lead tabs.
Update all data on the lead except for Lead Team membership data and Lead Owner data.
Read and update the lead and all child objects of the lead. Full access level enables you to:
When the lead does not have any owner, you must Accept the lead which makes you the lead owner. Only the lead owner and the management chain of the lead owner can change the lead owner.
Territory team members inherit the access level of the territory. All members of the sales territories assigned to the lead have full access to the lead. Owners of ancestor territories of all sales territories assigned the lead also have full access to the lead.
A sales lead team comprises assigned territories and individual team members.
This topic provides examples that illustrate some of the features available for the sales lead team:
- Automate assignment of territories to lead territory team
- Automate assignment of individual resources to sales lead team
- Add ad hoc members to sales lead team
- Update access rights based on the resource
- Change the lead owner
Automate Assignment of Territories to Lead Territory Team
A lead exists with your company to purchase 50 large wind generator units in several Western Region states. To ensure that Western Region salespeople get assigned to the lead, your administrator uses the assignment manager capability to automatically add the Western Region territory to the lead territory team.
Sales departments arrange the sales force based on sales territories. Sales resources are organized into flexible teams and are associated with the sales territories. These sales territories are then assigned to customers, leads, and opportunities to carry out the sales process. A territory is the range of responsibility of salespeople over a set of sales accounts. Territories are assigned to sales accounts when the sales accounts are created. The sales lead team comprises:
- Assigned territories and special resources that are manually assigned to the team on an ad hoc basis.
- Resources that are added automatically through the automatic assignment of individual resources.
Automate Assignment of Individual Resources to Sales Lead Team
The sales lead team for your company wants to add a support person to the lead. Typically, support people are not part of any sales territory. You can use the Manage Sales Lead Assignment Rules area to set up a rule set group. For example, you can assign support team members as individual resources based on rules which match the lead product with specific support team members.
Add Ad Hoc Members to Sales Lead Team
Generally, sales team resources are automatically assigned to leads based on configured assignment rules. The following scenarios provide examples of when you may want to manually add additional team members to assist with the lead.
- The lead owner, who has full access to your company lead, wants to add one of his company's contractual experts to his team to help pursue the lead. The lead owner manually accesses the resource picker and selects the ad hoc resource that he wants to add to his team.
- When pursuing a lead for an insurance policy, the customer contact requests a unique and complex combination of policy components that require an expert in the company to review. The lead owner adds the expert resource to the lead with full access. Now the expert resource can update the lead with valid combinations of products and services, and, if required, add more team members to the team.
- A salesperson is pursuing a lead that requires the export of products outside the country. He wants to ensure there are no legal issues with exporting the products. The salesperson adds a member of their company's legal counsel to the lead to review the details before contacting the customer again.
Update Access Rights Based on the Resource
When a resource is added to the sales lead team through rule-based assignment, a profile option determines the member's default access level. Resources in the management hierarchy of a newly added team member have the same level of access to the sales leads as the team member.
All members of the sales territories assigned to the lead have full access to the lead. Owners of ancestor territories of all sales territories assigned to the lead also have full access to the lead.
Change the Lead Owner
Only the lead owner, or the resources in the management hierarchy of the lead owner, can change the ownership of the lead.
The following table describes the main differences between a response, a lead, and an opportunity.
|A response is ...||A lead is ...||An opportunity is ...|
An interaction initiated by the customer in response to a marketing stimulus. Every outbound marketing activity is a marketing stimulus.
An inquiry, referral, or other information, obtained through marketing campaigns or other means that identifies:
NoteYou can create a lead if the specific purchase interest is not known when the lead is created. However, to qualify a lead you must record a primary purchase interest.
A pending sale of a product or service that can be forecasted and tracked using summary data such as:
Created from interest recorded from responders in response to marketing activities. Responses include:
As interest for the product or service matures, responders are elevated as leads.
Mostly created by automated lead capture or lead import processes which periodically create qualified responders as sales leads.
Sometimes created from the response data of a contact or prospect who has expressed a need or interest in a product or service offered by the business.
Created by salespeople when they have identified a qualified lead with a potential revenue opportunity. Leads are converted to opportunities when significant sales investment is foreseen to close the deal.
NoteA salesperson can create opportunities from scratch, without previously having a response or lead created.
Solely owned by Marketing.
Not included as part of the sales forecast.
Transferred between Marketing and Sales departments based on how the lead progresses through its life cycle.
Not included as part of the sales forecast.
Solely owned by Sales who have complete responsibility for managing the life cycle of an opportunity.
Included in the sales forecast at the discretion of the salesperson.
Not all opportunities get included in the sales forecast and the decision to include them in the forecast may depend on your company's requirements.
The deal size is automatically determined by the products entered for the lead. When you add or remove products for a lead the deal size is recalculated. You can override the calculated amount after all products are entered. For example, if the lead is eligible for a discount, you can manually change the total of the deal size to apply the discount. However, the application overrides the deal size total if you add or remove a product from the lead after having manually adjusted the deal size. In this case, you have to reapply the manual change.
Lead rank suggests a priority to help you select leads for follow up. When the lead is created, a lead rank is first calculated by the assignment manager engine based on ranking rules. You can select a different lead rank from the list in the UI. When the lead is further processed, a different rank may be assigned based on enriched lead data, or the rules may cause the lead to revert to its original rank.
From the Leads overview area, select the lead you want to be part of your sales campaign. From the Lead details page, click the Contacts tab. Select the contacts that you want to add to your sales campaign. From the Actions menu, select Add to Sales Campaigns to view and select a campaign from your saved campaigns. Your selected contacts are notified either when you launch your sales campaign or at the next scheduled mailing if you set up your sales campaign to repeat.
Lead qualification determines whether a lead has a budget and project timeline defined, and indicates if someone with purchasing authority is identified. Company-specific standard questions and the associated scoring mechanism help to capture the additional data critical to qualifying leads. A lead is typically considered qualified when the need and purchase interest are confirmed.
Lead assessment helps in the lead follow-up process, where the salesperson continues to assess the lead quality and lead conversion potential through preconfigured assessment templates. From the Assessment tab, the salesperson can conduct a new assessment, view completed assessments, and view the responses to the questions. Assessment templates provide the mechanism for the salesperson to analyze the lead and suggest appropriate next steps based on the overall assessment score and feedback for the lead.
A customer reference is based on the customer industry and associated lead product or product group related to the specific lead. For example, a customer reference displays for your lead if a customer has purchased a similar product or service. You can leverage the reference details for effective lead follow-up.
The leads UI is designed to ensure that you are productive and can readily access related lead information with as few clicks as possible. Supporting data related to each lead is included in the contextual area for easy reference. It includes references to all open leads and open opportunities for the lead customer, as well as supporting collateral. This information is useful to the lead sales team to facilitate an effective lead follow-up.
You convert a lead to an opportunity when the lead is qualified and is ready for further processing along the sales cycle. Once the conversion is successfully completed, you can review the newly created opportunity using the opportunities UI. During your review, you might want to retain only a select few lead product lines to pursue as opportunity revenue line items. Since the conversion process automatically creates revenue lines from all lead lines, you can remove unwanted revenue lines from the opportunities UI.
You can view opportunities associated with leads in the leads UI.
When you convert a lead to an opportunity, the following rules may apply depending on the setup criteria for your company:
- The person converting the lead becomes the primary sales team member for the opportunity.
- The customer reference on the original lead is maintained for the opportunity.
- The associated lead team members are copied with the same primary team member.
- The newly created opportunity is assigned to the appropriate sales territories.
Yes, you can convert the same lead into another opportunity and then delete unwanted revenue lines. For example, during your review of an opportunity, you decide you want to retain only a select few of the lead product lines to pursue as opportunity revenue line items. Since the conversion process automatically creates the revenue lines from all lead lines, you can remove unwanted revenue lines from the Opportunity details page. You can, at a later stage, create another opportunity from the removed lead revenue lines by converting the lead to an opportunity again. You can then decide to keep only those revenue lines that you want on the newly created opportunity.
If you do not see the converted lead in your list of opportunities, this means that the opportunity is assigned to a different territory.
A sales lead cannot be converted to an opportunity or submitted for approval if the primary contact on the lead is not associated with a customer. An error message prompts that the lead cannot be converted or submitted because the primary contact is not associated with any customer.
In addition, when converting a lead, a warning message displays if any of the nonprimary lead contacts are not related to a customer. The warning indicates that nonrelated contacts will not transfer to the converted opportunity. If you select yes, the lead conversion process resumes but the nonrelated contacts are not carried over to the opportunity. If you select no, then no action is taken.