workflowIntroduction here.

We have a LOT of leads in our system.  The current count is 11,192 and I archived any lead that was created before 2006 during the last conversion of CRM systems.  Thankfully, Zoho CRM handles leads really well.  This is the process we use to separate the forest from the trees and allow our sales team to focus on the most productive leads.

The way I define a lead is a person (contact) who works at a company (account) who has expressed some sort of interest in our products or services and has not purchased anything from us in the past. Leads come into the system from four main marketing activities.

  • Trade shows – Import list
  • D-Tools website – Web to Lead form
  • Google Adwords and SEO – Web to Lead form or incoming call
  • Download Trial – Import list

These are called “Leads Source” in our CRM system.  This is a mandatory pick list field.  In addition to a Lead Source field we also have a related field called “Sub-Lead Source” that contains the specific information relating to the general Lead Source.  For example a Lead Source that = Trade Show and Sub-Lead Source = CEDIA 08 is the name of the specific trade show  That way we can easily track where revenue is coming from on a global or granular basis.

In order to better target our marketing message to each lead we categorize every lead into a specific Industry and Category.  Industry refers to what industry the lead is in like AV-Automation, Broadcast and so on. Category refers to what type of customer they are.  For example Residential or Commercial.

It sounds kind of confusing and a lot of extra work but we do this because the messaging to a company that is involved in AV-Automation for the residential market is different than what a commercial AV integrator would expect.  In some cases a company could be involved in both residential and commercial work and in those cases we use a multi-pick field for the category so the user can tag the record as both residential and commercial.

We also have a mandatory “Lead Status” field with the following choices below: All Lead Status start out as “Unqualified” and then we change the status as we move them through the process. This is extremely helpful because we can give all of the “Unqualified” leads to a sales admin and let them fill in the blanks without getting a senior salesperson involved until the lead expresses real interest.

  • Qualified A – Interested in purchasing in 3 months or less
  • Qualified B – Has gone through a needs analysis or a demo
  • Qualified C – We have had a one to one conversation or email
  • Unqualified – Have not had any personal contact
  • Inactive – Interested but “not now”
  • Dead – Not interested

A new feature I just added to the system to help us focus on the most productive leads is the Pre Qualification Score or “Pre-Qual Score” field.  Since it is so hard to to actually get someone on the phone these days I came up with a simple system for the sales person or sales admin to score the lead by just subjectively looking at a few key details that are usually part of every lead in the system without actually talking to them on the phone.  The three lead Pre-Qual Scores are:

  • 1-Lame – If the email domain address is a free mail service like Hotmail or a home based service like Comcast and no website or a lame website like under construction.
  • 2-OK – If the email is a corp address or there is a professional looking website and a free or home based email service
  • 3-Good – If the email address is the same as the corp email address and there is a professional looking web site
  • 4-Great – The email has a Corporate address, a professional website, a phone number and there is a Job Function (this was added to the document (10/13/08)

<rant>

Please let me explain before someone accuses me of calling some of our potential customers “Lame”.  That is not what I mean.  At the recent CEDIA Expo we received “X” number of leads.  Most of these came from our booth scanner and were converted to Excel (more on this process later) and some came through business cards.  Most of the business cards had a website address but unfortunately the scanner information did not have the lead website information.  So I hand picked through every lead that did not have a website and by using the corporate email domain I attempted to find and add a website attached to the lead.

This is what I found out.  18% of the leads used a free (yahoo, hotmail, gmail) or home based (aol, comcast, sbcglobal) email.  21% had a corporate email domain but not a website that matched that email domain.  59% had both a corporate email address and a matching website.

So close to 40% of our potential customers from this show do not have a website and/or use a free email address.  That is “Lame”.  There are couple of things you can do to be taken seriously in this world, especially if you are in any industry that professes to be of a technical nature.  Getting a real email address and a real website would be at the top of the list.  Speaking to the system integrators in the 40 percentile, would you do any business with a manufacturer who did not have a website or someone with an aol.com email address?  Everyone does research on the internet now, why do you think your potential customers are any different?  You could be excluded from a project just based on this criteria.

</rant>

Zoho CRM makes it very easy for users to create and sort lists into custom views so our sales team can filter by Lead Status = Unqualified and sort by the Pre-Qual score.  This allows the sales team to focus on the most productive leads first, while the marketing team drips on all the leads with email marketing as appropriate.

The last custom field we use to target our message to our prospective clients is the “Job Function” field.  The reason for this is that our software can be used by many people in an organization.  People involved in the installation side of a company would perhaps be interested in our integration with Brother wire labels while a salesperson would be more interested in making his proposals look more attractive.  This is pick list field with the following standardized choices:

  • Design/Engineering
  • Finance/Accounting
  • Installation/Service/Training
  • Operations/Administration/Management
  • Owner/Partner/Executive
  • Sales/Marketing/Consulting

The picture below is what a well qualified lead would look like in our system before we have had any contact with that person.  In this specific case all a sales admin would have to do is contact the lead by phone or email, find out how many employees are in the company, what the specific title of the lead is and change to the appropriate Lead Status.  Once the lead gets “Qualified” it becomes much easier for a Sr.  Salesperson to step in, identify the opportunity and move the Lead to a “Potential” and eventually a “Client”.

The reason we go to all this trouble in geting our leads in order is to make it as easy as possible for the sales team to focus on the customer needs and move them through the pipeline.  In addition we can now easily send VERY targeted emails based on the Category, Industry, Lead Source and Job Function.  With the proliferation of email messages on a daily basis it is very important to target each message to the needs of the individual.