Most of our readers are already aware that a quality lead management system can help you effectively track your leads so they don’t go stale and keep moving through the funnel. And ideally, you’ve also created a lead scoring system, so you can scale up in a way that allows you to focus on the most enthusiastic, informed, and ready to buy.
But despite having such systems in place, many organizations lack a cross-functional lead management strategy that unites the sales and marketing teams behind the common goal—not because they don’t want one, but because leadership just hasn’t made it a focus. It’s unfortunate, but true.
Here are four lead management strategy tips that go beyond the basics to help unite your team and get everyone aligned.
1. Clarify the shared vocabulary for marketers and sellers
People who are part of a group—or a team, or even a family—often invent words or use phrases that would mean something different in another context. This helps create bonds between people who spend a lot of time together. However, they might not use that same language around others who may not understand.
This is why the word “lead” means different things to marketers and sellers, resulting in miscommunication and mutual frustration. Let’s take a look.
Marketing definition: A “lead” is a person with a valid email address who expressed interest in a product or service.
Sales definition: A “lead” is person from a company in my territory who's connected with me in some way.
To solve this problem, bring your marketing and sales teams together to define key terms, words, and acronyms so everyone has proper context and understands language in the same way. Then, once you’ve defined a shared vocabulary, write it down as a constant reminder.
If you think your teams are already on the same page, play this game to test them.
- Identify four or five people who’re involved with your lead tracking process in some way—lead generation, monitoring lead status, lead nurturing, the choice is yours. Ask them all what a “lead” is and write down their definitions.
- Collect all the written definitions in an envelope. Then, get together over lunch or drinks and read all the definitions, without revealing who wrote what. If they say the same thing, your shared team vocabulary is coming together. If not, you have a clear place to start building one.
This process has the added benefit of giving your team practice in choosing the best wording to communicate your product’s value.
2. Have clear expectations for lead management with SLAs
After you’ve worked with someone for a while, you start to know what to expect from them. For instance, someone says they’ll have something done by the end of the week, but you eventually learn that they really mean 8 a.m. Monday morning. It can be frustrating, but in time, you learn to anticipate and adjust accordingly.
However, many teams operate more like a relay race than a ping-pong game, so you don’t always see when the work is done or the results it drives. This is especially true when your team has a diversity of roles working in tandem.
To overcome this, define and document realistic, measurable expectations for all parties and get them out in the open so your whole team can work together to ensure performance and improvement over time. These expectations can then become service level agreements (SLAs) for all parties who play a role in your strategy—including leads themselves. These might include the following commitments:
- Every new lead must be contacted and their status changed from “new” to “working” within two business days.
- All leads must be qualified or disqualified within two weeks.
- If a lead has no status updates within two weeks, it should be considered “stalled” and eligible for further marketing support.
3. RACI keeps track of who is accountable
When a team works together to complete projects and make decisions, a RACI model can help define who does what by showing who’s Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed on all activities and tasks. These models are especially great tools for B2B marketing and lead generation teams because they clarify roles and define what’s expected of each.
It all comes down to change management. Implementing a RACI model means doing things differently—and hopefully for the better. Still, for a RACI to work, you need to align on goals and performance measures and secure executive support and sponsorship. This ensures that the person in charge of monitoring SLAs has the power to track and incentivize the responsibilities and tasks that the team agreed on.
To that end, the SLAs must be monitored daily, and new roles may need to be created or changed to enforce them.
4. Create a communication plan and expect to iterate
It’s important to get on the same page and ensure people follow through on their commitments—but that’s just the beginning.
There’s a saying that “Change is the only constant.” So, any lead management strategy should also include a mechanism for communicating feedback and iterating. Any changes need to be reviewed, revised, and tested to find opportunities to improve.
Try setting up a bi-weekly meeting to discuss what’s working and what’s not. This will give you a space to consider whether the strategy you agreed to is being followed, and to discuss challenges that need addressing or successes you can replicate.
Also, review your lead management strategy’s performance on a quarterly basis. This is a good opportunity to evaluate its big-picture impact and can give members of the team a chance to propose changes to what’s not working.
What’s next for your lead management strategy?
No two organizations are the same, so what works for you will be unique. However, these four tips will guide you to a lead management strategy that continues to improve over time. Download Oracle’s guide, Making Sense of Lead Management, to learn more about how an effective lead management strategy can impact your business for the better.
Then, see how Oracle Eloqua Marketing Automation can help streamline your lead management strategy to deliver on your goal.
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