Which Way to Route: How to Establish a Lead Process with Sales

Which Way to Route: How to Establish a Lead Process with Sales - Brandwidth Solutions

So your marketing department is up and running and your content is driving leads. Congratulations! But, now what? How can you ensure you’re getting the most out of these leads? The answer starts with the lead routing process you establish with your sales team.

The Leads They are a Flowin’

Your marketing programs are bringing in leads and they’re automatically entering through your marketing automation system (like Marketo or HubSpot) after the lead has completed a form on a landing page to download your content (like a white paper) or completed a “contact me” request on your website. Or, you have a batch of permissioned leads that you’re uploading into your marketing automation system from an advertising effort (like from third party partners that are a part of your annual ad plan). There are many more sources.

Regardless of where they’re coming in from, there might also be a sales CRM system involved (like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics 365) that the sales team prefers to use to track their internal reach-outs to these leads as they move from prospect to various stages of a deal. While sales is using their CRM system to send any one-off communications and to track calls, marketing needs to continue with its lead nurturing process simultaneously.

Depending on the structure – let’s say for this blog post there is indeed a second sales CRM involved – how do you process and route the leads appropriately?

What’s Important?

Deciding how to handle leads should be a partnership process with the sales team, so at this point it’s time to bring them in and decide what’s a lead or a tire-kicker.

To determine that, it is imperative that your organization has already performed your user experience research, has mapped your customer journey, and – most importantly – has identified your buyer personas.

Because, after all, how can you route a lead appropriately if you don’t know how to prioritize it against the profile of your ideal customer?

Also, you may have had marketing discussions already about what you’d like the prospect to provide up front to aid in the routing process. For instance, when designing the forms for your landing pages, you might require certain fields (like “industry” or buying decision timeframe) to be completed so the lead can route to the right sales rep handling a certain industry and letting them know when the prospect is ready to buy.

Tip: Be careful not to require too many form fields for the prospect, though, as various research indicates that between 4-6 required form fields is ideal and more than that can encourage abandonment by the prospect.

In addition, if your leads are coming from a list, we follow the best practice of assigning some information to each lead in the list before it’s uploaded. For instance, we try to identify the industry and the general job title category of the lead – and several other parameters that identify where the lead originated from (like from the third-party ad campaign). Again, more information that aids in getting the lead to the right follow-up rep.

Workshop-it with Your Sales Partners

Bring in some pizza and start talking through the lead process with sales. These conversations are often some of the most productive you’ll ever have as an organization, because you learn important things unique to that organization’s way of doing business. And every business can have its differences. For instance, those who require a demo – if your company sells a product that has that option – might require immediate attention and as such should be routed by marketing straight to a sales rep for follow-up.

Or, should it? One of the clients we serve has a specialist sitting in between the lead flow syncing out of the marketing automation system and into their sales CRM system. This specialist first reviews the leads coming in, then routes them to the appropriate sales rep before allowing them to complete a full update into their sales CRM.

Marketing’s Not Done

After the leads get routed for follow-up with a sales rep, marketing continues to nurture the lead through its marketing automation system. Marketing shouldn’t stop, even when a prospect converts to a customer. Think monthly or quarterly newsletters, or depending upon the level of interest of the lead – like someone who requests a demo – they might also continue on into a multi-month, multi-touch nurture campaign that sends them relevant information about their area of practice.

Tip: We have a client that started sending out quarterly newsletters to its database and upon the first send received a reply from a current customer who inquired about an additional service the client offers that they didn’t know was being offered. A hot lead!

Most marketing automation systems also have an option for scoring – the process of assigning a numeric score to a particular activity. For example, if a prospect is uploaded and starts at a score of zero and also has a targeted industry identified with them (like petroleum), they might move to a score of 10 because of the association with petroleum. You could also automatically alert a sales rep if a prospect reaches a certain score threshold (like 50), with the potential to be more interested in your organization’s offerings versus other prospects.

Tweak as You Roll Along

As the lead process machine gets rolling and the machine is whirring, feel free to tweak the process. This can be especially important if a company decides to venture into new markets. For example, one of our clients decided to venture into the forensics/law enforcement market. So this required the sales specialist managing the lead intake at the client to be careful to route the lead to the appropriate rep serving that area. You don’t want a sales rep from the petroleum area trying to talk forensics to that prospect, right?

Your system may not be perfect if you’re starting from scratch, but that’s okay. Adjust, learn, and tweak the process as you move along and as your sales environments shift.

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, energy, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.

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