Even in a Tough Economy, See Your Revenues Climb

Unless you came from another Galaxy, you realize that we on earth have big problems facing us.
Rising debt, banks unwilling to lend, increased foreclosure rates, increased bankruptcies, increased taxes headed our way, etc. I’ve painted a somewhat bleak picture here, but quite frankly I’m not the first person to tell you this. Your customers, suppliers, financing sources already know this and have their own problems to fix.

So in this worst economic climate since the 1970’s or even The Great Depression, how do you protect yourself and continue to grow or sustain your business? Everything resides around a robust sales pipeline and closing opportunities. Think about it, that forecast you review is meaningless if your sales management doesn’t know how to effectively use it, your sales staff sees recording prospect data as a waste of their selling time, nothing backs up those numbers.

Keep in mind company management has gone to jail for less than publishing sales stats which are unrealistic. For one, your investors won’t like it. If you want to do well in a lackluster economy it all starts with you. Why are some companies having heftier revenue and profits? Perhaps they better understand the recipe for success…they got control of their operations, they hired the expertise to help gain a strategic advantage, these companies spent their budget to improve the sales report and sell functions of their business, while also driving down their administrative and production costs.

If you find nothing working the way you expect, perhaps you need to go outside of your organization to a company that has the focus and commitment to work for you for positive change. The one deal you missed might catapult you to the success you are seeking.

That’s what It Takes To Win, even in a tough economy!

Do More Smart Stuff and Less Stupid Stuff

white puzzle with one piece missing that stands out

It’s the Strategy, Stupid

I’ve been involved in sales for many years, but still seek advice from the “Strategy Masters.” Let me boil strategy down to its core. Here it is:

Strategy is what we use to do more smart stuff and do less stupid stuff.

We make decisions everyday and support our competitive advantage in the market, but then we do the stupid stuff like activities that can erode our competitive or sustainable advantage. Many will say that it is strategically impossible to do everything right, that 50 percent of hitting your sales target is not bad, that not calling your prospects in a timely manner is acceptable, not looking at your sales activity or pipeline is OK, not knowing how to align your sales to the markets available to you is common practice, that salespeople don’t need to do a good job, etc. They often ask “How do we really know that we are not doing a good job as a company, anyway?”

If you are in the business of looking into organizations you quickly discover the mistakes these companies are making and what change is required. They need a strategy, a vision, a decision filter…the tools may be there, but they’re just not using them correctly.

Ask the question yourself, “What can I do to make more smart stuff and less stupid stuff.” If you can’t answer this question, seek help! You might even find that by getting help you improve on the smart stuff you are already doing.

Lead Qualification Process – Best Practices

Two teleprospectors working on lead qualifications on their laptops

If you are planning to build a Teleprospecting organization, to qualify leads, there are a few items that need to be in place, before you get started.  First, make sure that you have a flexible and easy to customize CRM that will support the daily activities of your Telemarketing team.  The CRM should allow the easy build of management reports and dashboards, so that you can manage your team by the key metrics that ensure success.

Next, work with Marketing and Sales to design an effective lead qualification process.  At a minimum, an effective Lead Qualification Process should include the following:

  • Qualification questions or the key questions that are used to qualify prospects
  • The disposition of each lead, as the qualification process progresses
  • Lead touch rules that monitor the number of times a lead is touched before it
    is abandoned or sent back to a “nurture” program
  • Next step details that outline what needs to happen to fully qualify the lead
    to make it “sales” ready
  • A quality control process that enables sales management to review the
    quality of each lead to ensure that they are quality leads

Qualification Questions

The lead qualification process starts with the questions that the Teleprospectors will need to ask to uncover need and interest in your solution.  The right questions will uncover:

  • Need: Does the prospect have a need for your
    product or solution?
  • Authority: Is this particular prospect the person
    who can make a purchase decision?
  • Decision Maker: What is the name and title of the person
    who can make the purchase decision?
  • Budget: Does this prospect have money to make a
    purchase or CAN they secure the funds to make a purchase?
  • Timeframe: When is the prospect planning to solve
    their problem and purchase a solution or product like yours?
  • Decision Process: How will the decision be made?  Will there be an evaluation committee or
    will some other process be used to make a decision?
  • Understanding of Solution: Does the prospect understand the problem/issue your solution or product
    resolves?
  • Next Step: If the prospect is interested in your solution, what is the next step to move the lead from an MQL to an SQL?

Determine the minimum number of completed questions you require to meet the expectations of your Sales team.  It is highly unlikely that your team will get all of the key qualification questions answered every time.  Decide on the minimum amount of information you
need to give a lead a “B” rating.  If a lead has fewer than the minimum, the lead is still a work in progress and should stay in the Teleprospectors pipeline until the minimum standards have been met.

Lead Disposition

The Lead Disposition is the label you assign to leads as they go through the qualification process. The dispositions help Sales
Management to quickly identify the progress of each lead, if a Teleprospector is having trouble qualifying leads and to zero in on leads that are ready to go to Sales.  Here are a few of our favorite Lead Dispositions:

  • Untouched:  This disposition tells the Teleprospector that this is an MQL that has never been contacted.  This disposition helps Managers to see if the team has enough new MQL’s to contact.  It can also help a Manager determine if MQL’s
    are being called in a timely manner.
  • Pursuing:  When an MQL is in the pursuing disposition, it means that the MQL has been called, however, no contact
    has been made with this prospect.
  • Contacted: Once a call has occurred and contact has
    been made with the prospect, MQL’s can be moved to the disposition “contacted”.
  • Key Conversation: Not all connects are created equal.  If important information or Key
    information was gathered during a connected call, this should be listed in the disposition.  Managers should report on this important disposition, during their meeting with Sales.  Key conversations are the conversations that move the sales process forward.  If Teleprospectors aren’t having a number of Key conversations, each week, there may be something wrong.  This disposition enables the Manager to identify problems with the MQL’s, target list or Teleprospecting skills.
  • Potential SQL: A potential SQL is a lead that has a definite interest and need.  The Teleprospector
    may need to gather more information to turn this lead into an SQL; however, this is a hot target.  Over
    time, Potential SQL’s build, creating the Teleprospecting pipeline.  Managers keep track of these leads
    because these leads are likely to become SQL’s fairly soon.
  • SQL: SQL’s are ready for the Sales organization.  They have the information required to make a highly qualified lead.
    They are the leads that will go into the Sales Funnel.
  • Bad Data: You can try your best to get leads with the most accurate information.  Sometimes, prospects leave their positions and move to another company.  Sometimes prospects give false information on registration pages.  Sometimes the data is incorrect and you may not know why.  It doesn’t matter.  If the data is bad, the Teleprospector won’t be able to reach the prospect.  Take the lead out of the leads area of the CRM and have someone work on the lead to get better data.
  • Unable to Reach: If the Teleprospector has reached the limit on the touch rules and has had no response from the prospect then
    the lead disposition becomes “unable to reach”.  Your CRM administrator should take these leads out of the leads area and put the lead into a nurture program.

These dispositions will help your Teleprospectors to effectively manage their call activity and enable the Manager to track lead
progress and identify issues quickly.  These dispositions will enable Marketing to get a pulse on the success of their campaigns and the quality of the MQL’s that they are creating for the Teleprospecting team.

Touch Rules

Part of the lead qualification process is determining the number of times a lead will be touched before it is abandoned or put into a
lead-nurture program.  You don’t want your prospects to feel as if they are being “stalked” by your Teleprospecting
team.  Keep the rules simple, which will enable compliance.  Here are my touch rules:

  • First call:  Touch #1. Leave a voicemail and send an email.  Wait 2-3 days before you make another call attempt.
  • Second Call: Touch #2.  Move on.  Wait 2-3 days before your next call.
  • Third Call:  Touch #3.  Send an email.  Wait a week before you make another call.
  • Fourth Call:  Touch #4.  Leave a voicemail. Wait a week before you make another call.
  • Fifth Call:  Touch #5.    Move on.
  • Email: Touch #6. Send an email stating that if the prospect has a need that they should call the Teleprospector
    back, at their convenience.
  • After Touch #6:  Change the disposition to “Unable to Reach” and put prospect into a nurture program.

Your business may require different touch rules.  What we have found, working with over 100 Software companies, is that if a prospect doesn’t return calls or reply by email after 6 touches, they usually aren’t interested.  They may have interest, in the future and may respond at some point in the nurture process.

Next Step Details

In our experience, a Teleprospector will touch a prospect 3 to 4 times before they get all of the information they will need to turn an MQL
into a viable SQL.  After each good connection with a prospect, information is acquired and the Next Step details should be updated.  The Next Step field details the requirements to move the sales process forward.  For example, a next step might be to provide the prospect a private web demo.  The Next Step is not just a callback.  It is an action that moves the sales process forward.

QA SQL’s

Once a lead is qualified, fully, the disposition becomes “SQL”.  Before the SQL is passed to Sales, the Manager should review and approve the SQL, to ensure that the SQL meets the minimum qualification criteria.  CRM’s, such as Salesforce.com, provide workflows that can trigger an action, such as when a Potential SQL moves to an SQL.  We have set up workflows for our clients that trigger an email to the Manager, who takes the action of reviewing the lead before it is converted to an opportunity for Sales.    Once Sales has reviewed and contacted the lead, Sales should “Approve” or “Reject” the lead, before it is converted to an opportunity.  The QA process enables the Manager to keep close tabs on quality and provides the team instant feedback, as Sales reviews and processes leads.  If more than, say 10% of the SQL’s are rejected by Sales, there may be a problem.  This process ensures quality leads and instant feedback for the Teleprospecting team.

Define the Qualification Process Before You Hire

You will save a lot of time and frustration if you develop the Teleprospecting infrastructure, before you hire your first Teleprospectors.  Make sure that you:

  • Select a CRM that effectively supports a Telemarketing
    team
  • Design a leads process that has buy-in from both
    Sales and Marketing
  • Map your leads process into your CRM to track
    the status of each lead
  • Build a QA and Lead Hand-Off process into the
    CRM to ensure lead quality

Take the time to define the lead qualification process to ensure success from the start.  It will be well worth your time.

About SOMAmetrics

SOMAmetrics enables clients to revitalize their Sales and
Marketing organizations, so that they meet and exceed their revenue objectives
each and every quarter.

Email: reach@SOMAmetrics.com

Phone: 800.352.9694

CRM: Is Your Lead Qualification Process Mapped?

Brief case of a qualified business person filled with pens, pencils, and paper

If you aren’t reviewing your CRM structure at least twice a year, it is likely outdated for your current needs—not to mention future ones.
Almost every one of the 100 plus Software and SaaS companies that we have worked with over the past 20 years had some sort of sales automation tool which they used to manage their sales operation. Most of these companies used their CRM to track sales activities and to manage their sales funnel. Some use their CRM more intensively and at the cutting edge, while many use the CRM out of the box and just scratch the surface of the power of their CRM.
Most CRM’s out of the box are designed to be flexible, powerful and extensible—which means you won’t get much out of them unless you customize them extensively and adapt them to your needs.  One critical omission, we found with many of our clients, is that they hadn’t mapped their lead qualification process into the CRM. Most often, it was because they didn’t have a well-thought-out lead qualification process, to begin with. While other times, if they had a defined lead qualification process, they hadn’t thought to map this process into their CRM.

At a minimum, an effective Lead Qualification Process should include the following:

  • The key questions that are used to qualify prospects
  • The disposition of each lead, as the qualification process progresses
  • The number of times a lead is touched before it is abandoned or sent back to a “nurture” program
  • Next step details that outline what needs to happen to fully qualify the lead to make it “sales” ready
  • A quality control process that enables sales management to review the quality of each lead to ensure that they are quality leads

 

Lead Qualification Process

You’ve done your Four Funnel™ Math and know how many impressions (the number of times you touch your target prospects utilizing a pre-determined marketing-mix, which can include email campaigns, social media programs, webinars, content placement, tradeshows, etc.) you need to generate the right number of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL’s) for your Teleprospecting team. Once you know the number of MQL’s required to support your Teleprospecting team, you are ready to create the process that your Teleprospecting team will utilize to generate Sales Qualified Leads (SQL’s) that will build the required pipeline to support your revenue objectives.

What Are Qualification Questions?

The lead qualification process starts with the questions that the Teleprospectors will need to ask to uncover need and interest in your solution. The right questions will uncover:

  • Need: Does the prospect have a need for your product or solution?
  • Authority: Is this particular prospect the person who can make a purchase decision?
  • Decision Maker: What is the name and title of the person who can make the purchase decision?
  • Budget: Does this prospect have money to make a purchase or CAN they secure the funds to make a purchase?
  • Timeframe: When is the prospect planning to solve their problem and purchase a solution or product like yours?
  • Decision Process: How will the decision be made? Will there be an evaluation committee or will some other process be used to make a decision?
  • Understanding of Solution: Does the prospect understand the problem/issue your solution or product resolves?
  • Next Step: If the prospect is interested in your solution, what is the next step to move the lead from an MQL to an SQL?

If your Teleprospectors gets the answers to all or the majority of these questions, you have a solid, highly qualified SQL for your Sales Team. If you agree with that statement, the next question is: Wouldn’t it be good to capture this data in a format that will allow you to run reports and track the answers? We believe the answer is “Yes!”

However, most of the clients that we have worked with didn’t capture this information in their CRM. These clients didn’t have fields in the CRM that captured the qualifying questions or the answers. They forced their Teleprospectors to put the answers to these questions in the “Notes” field in their CRM.

Not everyone is good at taking notes. Not all notes are created equally and not all notes fields allow enough characters to adequately capture the information that we listed above. Notes are difficult to read and it is nearly impossible to report on data in the notes field. If you are forcing your Teleprospecting team to put this important information into the notes field you are missing out on gathering extremely valuable intelligence that your prospects are telling you. You are missing important intelligence that could help Marketing build better demand generation programs and to improve marketing strategy or messaging.
It is an execution mistake that will keep your Teleprospectors from generating highly qualified Sales Qualified Leads (SQL’s). Our advice is—collect quantifiable data (as captured by checkboxes and dropdowns, for example) when you can and augment with notes fields.
Otherwise, you are likely to be wasting money with a Teleprospecting operation that cannot provide you the actionable intelligence you need to improve sales.

 

About SOMAmetrics

SOMAmetrics enables clients to revitalize their Sales and
Marketing organizations, so that they meet and exceed their revenue objectives
each and every quarter.

Over the past ten years, we have worked on a variety of
Salesforce.com CRM implementation projects including: new implementation;
significant upgrades and optimization projects; data cleansing and migrations;
and integrations with other cloud-based tools.

We have assembled a team of experts ranging from marketing
and sales consultants, to business analysts and programmers to assist with Salesforce.com
or other CRM implementation project.

Contact us today to find out more of how we can help you
meet and exceed your revenue objectives quarter after quarter.

 

Contact SOMAmetrics

Email: reach@SOMAmetrics.com

Phone: 800.352.9694