Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Process Audit Needed To Identify Breaks In Lead Management

By Carlos Hidalgo, President, The Annuitas Group

Marketing automation systems are robust and do allow marketers to become more efficient and effective, but they can’t deliver the process-based approach that will ultimately help the marketer meet the demands of today. It’s tempting to believe that that technology will cure all of the marketer’s ills. But it won’t. Companies that adopt marketing automation technology without the planning and development of process will not reach the potential returns they could otherwise achieve.

Understanding the need to develop and implement the right process is one thing. Getting there is another. For most marketers, it’s difficult to determine what processes are broken, or what processes are missing altogether.

The best place to start is with a process audit. An audit is an exercise whereby all parts of the lead management continuum are identified, assessed, and analyzed. Included are all functions that have a role in lead management. This obviously includes sales and marketing, but also may include business development, IT, Web Services, and the current technology structure.

Any organization within the company that has a role, however minor it may be, in the generation, qualifying, routing and disposition of leads should be included in the audit. The audit, plain and simple, is a fact-finding mission. The goal is to find the broken areas, diagnose them, and determine how they can be fixed. It is not an exercise in assigning blame, and there are no “sacred cows”. It’s simply a project to uncover the issues or leaks that exist within a company’s lead management practice. Often, having an objective, “third party” lead management consultant helps to maintain objectivity.

The areas an audit should cover can broken down into six key categories:

1. Data (Sales Data, Marketing Data)

2. Lead Planning (Sales & Marketing Integration Point)

3. Lead Qualification

4. Lead Routing (Marketing to Sales; Sales back to Marketing)

5. Lead Nurturing

6. Measurement & Analysis

Process Development in Process

This framework and approach is one that has been proven over and over with great success. One such company is still reaping the rewards of moving forward with a process-based approach, more than a year after adoption.

Typical of many organizations, this financial services company was sending all “leads” to sales for follow-up. Sales in turn were getting increasingly frustrated because the majority of the leads were not qualified and had little to no interest in buying. As a result of this approach, sales had very low conversion rates, marketing had no true measurement of campaign success, sales grew increasingly frustrated, and the gap between marketing and sales continued to grow.

Understanding their need to change, the organization took on an initiative according to the approach described above. The objective was not just to adopt marketing automation, but to develop and establish a lead management process to get the most out of their technology investment. As part of this approach they determined that marketing and sales would work together to jointly develop the process including:

  • Lead definitions
  • Qualification criteria
  • Scoring models
  • Lead nurturing process
  • Lead routing rules - including SLA’s and Business Rules

Mission Accomplished – Benefits Realized

As a result of taking a process-based approach supported by marketing automation, the company has achieved extraordinary results. Where once sales and marketing were on opposite sides of the divide, it is now a collaborative environment and both groups are aligned (alignment is not the problem, but a symptom of lack of process). This company has achieved the following:

- Sales conversions increase by 22%

- Marketing measurement put in place and ability to use the intelligence from these metrics to define future programs

- Marketing programs increased overall revenue by over 10%

- Over 300% increase in qualified leads sent to sales

This is just one example of an organization has vastly improved its sales and marketing processes and matured as an organization. The processes developed jointly with sales continue to pay off and improve the bottom line.

Carlos Hidalgo is President of The Annuitas Group –, the leader in marketing and sales process development, implementation and automation. With over 25 years experience, The Annuitas Group has developed marketing and sales processes and lead management programs for companies of all sizes helping their clients vastly improve the return on their marketing and sales investment.

Since its inception in 2005, The Annuitas Group has helped their clients identify more than $300 million in potential revenue by focusing on Marketing-Sales Integration Strategies, Lead Management, Marketing Automation and Campaign Execution Services.

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