Sales lead management

Lead management in Saleswah

Lead management is crucial. Sales Leads – whether from marketing efforts or from Sales efforts, are the life-blood of a sales operation.

Leads have a very limited life-span. Customer may not be looking at you alone but at other vendors as well. So, getting back promptly is important.

A typical lead follows the following stages through the sales process (before it is “closed”-hopefully as a win, of course):

We are today going to discuss the first two stages of leads management – the marketing lead and the sales lead.

Marketing lead management

Marketing leads are most often nothing more than a name and a contact number- phone or email.

More information is welcome, of course. But typically, we get nothing more than the bare minimum.

The main idea is to get a number and start calling them to qualify their interest. So, after the leads are “captured” in the CRM, it is imperative to get it to the right sales/ telesales person as quickly as possible.

Leads can be added to Saleswah one by one.They can be also uploaded from a spreadsheet.

Lead management: assignment, conversion, rejection

While adding/ uploading we check for a match with an existing contact, based on email address and if found, we attach the lead to the Contact record. Now, this contact may already exist in the CRM but under a different Sales Exec. So, tough luck! The assignment will happen to the person who already has the Contact ownership (and thus Account ownership).

This could be tough for the guy entering the lead but good for the company for whom the executive works.

After the lead is entered and assigned, the responsible user can then reject it (after recording a reason), re-assign it to someone else or work on it. If she finds it valuable and worthy of further follow up, she “Converts” the lead to a Deal. By default all Deals start off as a Sales Lead– the earliest stage in the funnel.

Sales lead management

At this very early stage of the funnel, the accent is very much on trying to “qualify” the lead – find the genuineness of the interest, see if there is budget, start identifying the decision makers and the purchase process.

What makes a sales lead valuable?

A case for valuable sales leads

Sales folks are rarely enthusiastic about sales leads- which is surprising, or not- depending on how you look at it. There is obviously pressure to get to an opportunity before your competition. But, the worst thing for a sales guy is to have to chase dud leads. What are valuable sales leads?

Leads come in all shapes and from all sorts of sources. Most of them have little information other than a name and a number. Some have an email. And most of them result in nothing. Reasons are too numerous to go into, here.

Lead generation to qualification

Leads to deals to winMarketing generates the most leads for sales. And those are the leads that sales people are the most sceptical about. So, over time, most marketing leads tend to go through at least a level of “qualification”- typically a telecaller who would call the lead and gauge the seriousness or interest in purchase.

The filtering tends to be quite severe. I have seen as much as 80% leads fall by the wayside and only the 20% or less make their way to sales people to follow up. These bunch have a much better chance of closure.

The goals of the telecaller and the sales guys are – even if slightly, misaligned. The Telecaller is the “man in the middle”- he filters the marketing leads. They differ in their understanding of what valuable sales leads are.

Valuable sales leads

The telecaller – typically- is looking to get the lead to commit to a meeting or follow up call – from the sales person. He counts his success as a number of leads who have managed to say yes. This, needless to say is what the marketing guy wants too. More marketing leads result into a follow up call, better his metrics look.

Now, if poor quality leads make into the sales funnel, the sales metrics of conversion will look bad. Which is why I say, the goals of telesales and sales are often misaligned.

On balance, I still prefer the marketing to fund the tele-qualification function. There is of course scope in sales and marketing teams sitting down together and drawing up pre-agreed crieteria for deals qualification.

Okay, so what are valuable sales leads?

Having talked with hundreds of customers in scores of industries – my only answer is that it depends. It varies from industry to industry and even within the same industry, it varies from company to company. And, I am talking of companies who have actually invested the time to define the threshold of information and interest and how they measure both before passing it on to a sales guy.

Interest in the next step

Interest shown by the lead in being contacted it seems is a big factor. Also, the nature of interest matters too. Some would simply want more information to be mailed, while the others might want a visit from a sales person. I know at least one company where professed interest in meeting a sales person is ruthlessly scrutinized because the sales people are so senior and their time, expensive.

Where telecallers inevitably falter

Almost all companies have a script for the their telecallers. But I have seen most falter in sifting through the tyre-kickers and the door-keepers. Sales does not like information gatherers- though in some B2B enterprise sales processes, information sharing is mandatory as part of a long sales process. Sales also wants to talk to decision makers- and most leads tend to be from folks who are merely gathering data for their bosses. You do not want to be at the mercy of people who are not able to represent your case in from of decision makers- though sometimes you may not have a choice.

Action, level and logical fit

Sales love leads where there is clear action plan and it is obviously set up at an appropriate decision making level at the customer place. If the lead is from a customer or industry segment which is a logical fit- that obviously helps. If it is not, the telecaller should try and establish the need or the pain-point of the lead.

To summarize, valuable sales leads are where meeting is set up at a decision making level where a logical product fit can be established.

Lastly, when you work on a common platform for lead capture, qualification, conversion to deal and deal nurture and close, it definitely makes it easier for all. The lead qualification is a learning process- over a period of time and by capturing data of hundreds of leads qualified – your own criteria for evaluating leads will get better.

Running a telemarketing operation? Get Saleswah

Do you want to improve lead conversion?

Are you running a telemarketing operation? Are you evaluated by how many sales inquiries your team sends to the sales team? Take a look at how you can improve lead conversion and help increase the conversion of leads into orders.

Running a call centre to improve Lead Conversion?Out of every 100 “leads” your team gets, perhaps 5 will become paying customers. Your team is paid to identify perhaps 20 out of the 100 who the direct sales team will call. That is all the more reason why need to improve lead conversion process, backed by a robust lead management software.

Leads comes in throughout the day; your telemarketing team works through the list to shortlist the best few. While it is important to not miss out a great prospect, it is equally important to not send the frivolous enquiries for follow up to the sales team. That is what Telemarketing teams do. They improve lead conversion.

How Saleswah Basic will help improve lead conversion

0. Get your entire sales team, telemarketing executives on Saleswah Sales (at around Rs 1150/- per month per user, the cost is incidental).

1. Assign your direct sales team (s) to territories.

2. Assign your telemarketing team to groups/ teams of direct sales persons.

3. Implement a lead qualification process that your direct sales people will only chase prospects (leads) that have been vetted/ qualified by your telemarketing team.

4. Achieve sales quota, productive team, higher sales productivity and happy boss!

As a bonus, see instantly updated reports on how many sales leads are being converted to deals (to be followed up by direct sales people), how many to deals are being converted into orders and even, how many orders came from leads your telemarketing team passed on to the direct sales team.

 

Sales leads tracking in Saleswah

What is a sales lead? Why is Sales leads tracking important

A sales lead is an indication and also information that a certain contact (or contacts) should be approached to pursue a sales opportunity.

What information you need typically for a contact to become a lead?
Well, even though there is no hard and fast rule, at the minimum, you need some contact information and the type of product she is interested in.

What does Saleswah count as a lead?
There are two ways of creating a lead in Saleswah CRM.
1. By automated lead scoring method:
Saleswah is constantly polling all the activities that are logged in the system and evaluating them for their potential to lead to a sale.
When acivities related to a contact or even a group of contacts working together in the same company jointly point to a possibility of a sale, Saleswah will automatically trigger a “lead”. A lead record will be created, it will be sent immediately as an email and a mobile alert to the sales executive who will then chase the prospect.
2. By manual lead creation:
A prospect calls your reception asking for product or price details; someone visited your exhibition in trade-fair and showed specific interest in a product, someone filled up a form on your website…
Saleswah allows your receptionist, your trade-fair exhibition booth hostess or your marketing team to log this interest in a product category exhibited by a contact as a lead. Two clicks, if the contact exists in the database; if not, ensure the contact is created in the database first.

Which one will you trust more?
It really depends. If you had superb quality of people, able to separate the wheat from the chaff, then you might trust manually flagged leads more than automatically created leads. But, they will still be inconsistent in quality. One person’s lead will be another person’s waste of time.

Automatically generated leads, have more credibility because they will be consistent.
Firstly, they will play by the same rules; the same definition of what constitutes a lead and what is the threshold of acitivites above which leads will need to be triggered. And, automated leads have more data-points, have a longer interaction history and many times with a bigger team than one.
Saleswah allows you to make a choice: automated lead creation, manual lead flagging or both!

Sales Leads assignment:

Leads created in Saleswah are automatically and without exception assigned to the Sales Executive to follow up. In case the lead is found to be worth pursuing, the executive pursues the lead and converts the lead into a sales deal.

Sales Leads tracking:

All sales leads are tracked as they progress in the funnel; through the stages of the deal, being “qualified” on the way to the “close”; with full visibility to the sales executive and his manager so that they can intervene as appropriate.

 

Are you using Excel to track your sales leads?

Please don’t. Using Excel to track sales leads, that is.

Don’t get us wrong. I am one of those who have been quoted as saying, “In God we trust, rest must be backed up by Excel”. Among all the MS software that we use and we do use quite a few, this software from Microsoft is simply unparalleled in use, power and yet simplicity.

So, why aren’t we using Excel to track sales leads through the funnel?

Excel is free, Saleswah is not. But, as we will see later, even that is not much of a factor. Here are a few things that Excel or Excel based lead trackers (see this, and this) just do not do.

1. Does not organize data in one place; or even link to data in multiple places.

You have a lead; that has a potential value, timeframe and associated contacts. You either will have an impossibly large and messed up spreadsheet or you will have to constantly refer to your email, PDA etc for information that proved difficult to capture in one place. If you know a excel based lead tracking software that does this well, let me know.

2. Welcome to data duplication. 

Most of the stuff you will enter into your spreadsheet will be from information that exists elsewhere. So, you will send a quote elsewhere and copy down the value on your spreadsheet. You will have email addresses on your Outlook, mobile numbers on your phonebook/ cellphone and everytime you need to follow up on a deal, you leave your excel based lead tracker and jump into another software.

3. No reporting capability:

Everytime you want a report, be prepared to spend time pivoting and massaging data. And, this is with basic “how much we will close this month?” kind of reports for single product, single market kind of companies. Excel templates for lead tracking just die when it comes to anything even a shade more complex.

4. No link, to anyone else or anything else

You have a team? Okay, then. Good luck with pulling all the data together and forecasting. Ever noticed how everyone has a different way of formatting data, inputting data or even abbreviations? And, even before we get to that, no sharing or collaboration on opportunities. No one knows what the other person in the team is doing. When a team member leaves, the data leaves too!

5. Does Excel send you email or mobile triggers?  

It does not; but Saleswah and Leadzgenie both do. Everytime you create a sales lead or assign a task to your executive, he gets an alert by SMS and also on email (what is task assignment, Excel will ask 😀 )

Enough said. Say goodbye to excel based lead management systems; get something much more professional and surprisingly, way more easy to use. Get your team on Saleswah.

Some discussion online, elsewhere.

A small business CRM for hunters

What is a CRM for hunters?

What do you think a CRM should be good at doing?

A CRM software supports the work the sales and marketing team does to increase business. Depending on the emphasis of its creators, a CRM software may be better at handling different parts of the sales cycle. A CRM might be brilliant at Contact Management (or even “Social Listening”), or it might be great at managing the sales process from the time a sales person sees a lead to the time he “closes”. Some CRM softwares manage your activities (invoices, quotations, mailers), some do a great job of integrating with telephony or calendaring.

These are all features. But, at the heart of it all is the intent- the strategy. What is it that you want the CRM to do? That really depends. It depends on fundamentally what the nature of your business is.

Do you need a CRM for hunters or farmers?

Do you get business mostly from new customers or from existing customers? Or, even, do you have different teams to focus on different segments- a team which scouts for new customers (the “hunters”), which depends on a constant stream of “inquiries/ leads” to chase and the other team (the “farmers”) focusing on deepening relationships with existing customers  and repeat sales.
If it is the former (more new customers, lots of leads and enquiries) go for a CRM for hunters; if it is the latter, for a CRM for farmers.

Traditionally a CRM has always been a relationship management tool; adept at managing existing relationships and mining them for more business. So, “farmers” made use of a CRM- the saw value in the past data, logged interactions and purchase history- because it helped them cross-sell, up-sell and so on. The hunters, stayed focused on the their phone and email software. So, what does a CRM for hunters bring to the table? To understand that, consider:

It left two lingering problems

1. In the real world, the hunters and farmers co-exist- often part of the same company, if not the same team or even reporting to the same boss. The customers the hunters acquire need to move to the farmers for nurturing at some stage. If the hunters left no trace of their interactions; assuming they even captured basic contact information- the farmers would be starting from scratch.
2. If the hunters were really big game hunters, relying on couple of deals, their CRM needs will likely be far too complex. But, what if their income really comes from a stream of inquires? What if their sales model is “transactional”- many misses for a hit? What if the numbers of incoming calls is large and leads need to be “qualified” before passing on to the direct sales team? CRM systems traditionally do not help hunters much. Nor do they accommodate roles like telecallers etc.
3. Hunters rarely hunt alone; hunting in a pack fetches more success. In a company, many others including receptionsists, telecallers, sales department secretaries need access to CRM- to capture customers voice, leads and enquiries. A CRM for hunters helps them.

Why use Saleswah Basic

Saleswah Basic is a CRM for hunters. The folks who take a lead, run it though the process and close it. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to use. For creating a contact record, for logging an inquiry and immediately passing it to the person who can make best use of the lead- the salesperson. We built it so that everyone in the company can get access to the CRM- anyone in a role requiring customer interactions.

How does Saleswah Basic work?

Saleswah Basic logs the milestones- the “where is the opportunity now?” or “when will we close this deal?” and it does expect you to log them. But, other than that, it is surprisingly lightweight. It does the basics really well- passes on the inquiries on SMS to the right sales person and updates dashboards and reports automatically which gives a picture of the sales funnel- for the executive as well as the manager.

Dare we say, finally we have a CRM for hunters? Not big game hunters, mind you- but if you are shooting ducks or pigeons and want to keep a track of the hits and misses, give Saleswah Basic a try!

Fifteen days usage absolutely free to try for all users.