In this week’s blog post on lead management, we’re going to take a deep look at lead processing and routing, stage 4 of lead process management. Lead processing is the flow by which a lead enters your system and becomes “known” to your marketing automation process (MAP), following it through MAP and CRM until it is closed/won. Lead processing is how a lead is processed through your technology.
Lead routing is the automated process by which we assign system qualified leads to the right sales person (by geography, product sales and so on). Automating lead routing ensures that the prospect is followed up with in a timely manner by the right person.
The value of lead processing and routing for Sales is they receive high quality leads in a timely manner, giving them higher conversion rates and improving first call quality. For Marketing, the value is found in the automation, timeliness, efficiency, and effectiveness of lead processing and routing. They will be able to nurture leads that sales will want to follow up on, and they will have higher conversion rates from SRL to Opportunity. Marketing’s productivity will increase as will their ability to transparently track their output.
Executives will find value in the predictability of lead processing and routing. It is a management point, a business lever they can use to improve team performance. Through an effective lead processing and routing system, the C-Suite will see improved revenue and greater efficiency from Marketing and Sales.
Lead processing is important because it clearly defines what will happen when a qualified lead comes in. When it comes to sourcing leads, lead processing helps Marketing understand which lead sources are better than others. And Lead processing ensures a fluid process by which leads are passed over to Sales and (if necessary) back to Marketing for more nurturing.
In some businesses, lead routing is “round robin” to distribute leads fairly to all sales people, but in all cases, the point of current, up-to-date lead routing is to ensure that the right person gets the lead and the lead doesn’t get the “run around.”
In some cases, with inbound for example, you can route a lead directly to a specific sales person based on their demonstrated interest, cutting down on time to meaningful dialogue. If you have high turnover, auto-routing can be difficult to keep up-to-date. However, not doing so can result in very poor customer experience.
If necessary, you can put “stop gaps” in place in the distribution of leads to slow down the routing process (for example, a manager receives all of the leads and then distributes them). However, not having a fast-track option prevents truly hot leads from getting straight to Sales.
As you are building your lead management process, an important question to ask at this stage is, “What are the characteristics of world class lead processing and routing?”
Lead processing and routing need to be documented. The documentation should include all technology systems that contribute data to the contact and the account. Ideally, all the technologies used in this process are integrated, ensuring the process happens faster.
Lead processing begins with the source of the lead. Consider this: what are your best lead sources? They could come from your social platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook), webcasts, organic or paid searches, your website, customer referrals, tradeshows, campaigns and/or third-party placements. Wherever they come from, they should be given a specific naming convention. For example, a lead source from a tradeshow could be named “2018_TradeShowName_LeadManagementProduct.”
The above graphic demonstrates the life of a lead in your automated system. Note the moments when a lead is looped back into Marketing for nurturing. This entire process and all of the technologies involved should be documented so that everyone (Sales and Marketing) understands the lifecycle of a lead.
Here is a roadmap to developing your lead processing and routing management process.
- Map your current lead flow by lead source and look for inefficiencies in the following five areas (remember to collaborate with Sales!):
- Use of technology
- The actual route of the lead
- Who does what to the lead along each stage of the route
- How long the lead stays in each stage
- Data/intelligence being passed with the leads
Throughout the planning and development phase, and especially as you enact your revamped lead processing and routing plan, it is important to maintain open communication between Marketing and Sales. If Marketing and Sales are both clearly educated on the new process, buy-in will be easy, and adoption will be quick.
Minimize (or altogether eliminate) manual routing steps. This will help if there is a high turnover rate in Sales (which makes it difficult to keep auto-routing rules up-to-date). Also, create a feedback loop that is quick and easy to use so that Sales can easily share data with Marketing.
Finally, establish a service level agreement (SLA) with timelines. Having an SLA in place will help hold people accountable for processing, and establishing timelines ensures timely follow up on leads.
We’ll talk more about service level agreements when we take a more in depth look at Stage 6 of the lead management process. Next week, we’ll look at Stage 5 optimizing prospect/customer scoring for automation. For now, head over to our resource center for more information on lead management.
Colby Renton is a Senior Marketing Strategist at the Pedowitz Group. Colby consults with global organizations to redefine marketing strategies, drive organizational change, educate on Revenue Marketing processes, and optimize the marketing discipline overall. Previously, she worked for one of the worlds’s premier HR consulting firms for nearly a decade, where she developed her expertise in change management and global marketing strategy.
- Posted by Colby Renton
- On 08/24/2018
- 0 Comments